© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article examines the links between state formation and indigenous mobilization in the southeastern Peruvian Amazon. Through an ethnographic and historical analysis, the article explores how processes of state formation in the Madre de Dios region have drawn indigenous people into complex interactions with outsiders. The article argues that these social relations, which are characterized not simply by resistance but also by subjugation, have shaped the Arakbut people’s struggles for land rights. Recent Arakbut engagements with a multinational oil corporation are informed by patron–client networks that work as a governmentality technique. By creating debt and exacerbating internal divisions, clientelism disciplines indigenous people, undermining their resistance to oil development and other forms of predatory state expansion into their territories.