Case Study: Sarah Lee Circle Bear
Sarah Lee Circle Bear was a 25-year old Native American mother who died while in custody at the Brown County Jail in Aberdeen, South Dakota. On July 3rd, Circle Bear was held under arrest in Roberts County Jail, and later taken into custody at Brown County Jail. Throughout the days of her arrest, Circle Bear demonstrated signs of detrimental physical health as she continued to be moved to other jail cells. On July 5th, she was found unresponsive in her jail cell at Brown County Jail.
Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre is a detention centre in Bedfordshire (UK) where foreign nationals, mostly women, await deportation or the outcome of asylum requests. Opened inÂ 2001, and operated by a private contractor (Serco), Yarlâs Woods has a reputation for the inhumane conditions in which detainees are held, often indefinitely.Â Yarl’s Wood, not unlike Manus Island, has become synonymous with the racialized violence of immigration removal; reported cases of physical and mental abuse, suicide attempts, and death – often by suicide. This centre has also become a focus for resistance, and stories of resilience through not only detainee hunger strikes, demonstrations inside and outside its walls, but also for the ways in which these women find expression through art, and cultural initiatives.
This case study documents the spaces and contexts in which Indigenous women die outside the formal custody of the state: on the streets; on the open road; in their own homes or at the edges of communities. In these spaces, although outside of its carceral confines, the violence of the settler state is enacted through diverse practices that render Indigenous womenâs lives unsafe and produce their deaths.
We use the term femicide to underline that the incidence of Indigenous womenâs deaths in these disparate places is not accidental or random, but a systematic outcome of the logic of settler colonialism.
The research on this website is primarily funded by the Australian Research Council, for the project ‘Deathscapes: Mapping Race and State Violence in Settler Societies’ under its Discovery Projects Scheme (DP 160100303).
In year 1 and 2 partial funding was received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, for the project ‘Racial Violence in Settler Societies: An Interactive Multi-Media Site of State Violence Against Indigenous and Racialized Peoples’ under its Partnership Development Grants scheme (890-2014-002). CI: Professor Sherene Razack; Â Community partners: Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (Christa Big Canoe, Director);Â Â African Canadian Legal Clinic Â (Margaret Parsons, Director); Centre for Aboriginal Health Education at University of ManitobaÂ (Dr Barry Lavallee,Â Director);Â Indigenous Social Justice Association, Sydney (the late Ray Jackson, founding Director).
We thank the School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts and the Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute at Curtin University for early development funding.
Thanks also toÂ our design and development team (Tommy Segoro, Deanne Bowen and Claude De Lucia at Diversus and Jeffrey Effendi at DrawHistory) for their care, creativity and meticulous attention to detail.
Special thanks to Mike Sowerby of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University for his invaluable insights and advice in developing the courtyard garden.
We are grateful to the artists, photographers and poets who have generously allowed us to feature their work on this site. All copyright for their work remains with them. Â AllÂ efforts have been made to contact each artist whose work is reproduced here. Â We ask anyone we have not yet managed to reach to please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Details of images on our Home pageÂ are in the Galleries section.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.
All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.