HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights, Global Affairs and Philosophy


Wub-e-ke-niew’s enormously unsettling book We Have the Right to Exist presents a version of indigenous philosophical thought as an alternative way of being human in the world that creates profound insights in times of ecological crisis and technological disruption. He also confronts especially his White American readers with a blistering assessment of centuries of cultural devastation with ongoing effects on contemporary society. His messages are radical, and some of them are potentially divisive within the Native-American community because most Native Americans are not actually indigenous in terms of Wub-e-ke-niew’s standards. His views are very much worth reflecting on, and much of what he has to say about the consequences of the conquest and about the possibilities offered by Native American thought do not depend on these divisive views. His insights about Western civilization connect to internal criticisms articulated by thinkers like Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Latour and so make his text an excellent entry point for genuine engagement between Western and indigenous thought.


Risse, Mathias. "A Radical Reckoning with Cultural Devastation and Its Aftermath: Reflections on Wub-e-ke-niew’s We Have the Right to Exist." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP23-025, August 2023.