Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Keynote Address – Indigenous Peoples and Global Climate Change: Intercultural Models of Climate Equity

Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, Vol. 25, p. 7, 2010

12 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2011  

Rebecca A. Tsosie

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This essay discusses the place of indigenous peoples within the politics of climate change. In the United States, contemporary policymakers understand federally-recognized Indian tribes as “domestic dependent nations.” In that capacity, tribal governments have the power to address many environmental issues arising on their reservation lands and impacting their members. At the level of international policy, Native Nations are designated as “indigenous peoples,” with a distinctive set of human rights related to their unique identity as land-based communities with longstanding cultural connections to their environments. Sometimes those two identities operate consistently, allowing Native Nations to preclude forms of energy development that threaten their lands, communities, and cultures, as the Navajo Nation did when it enacted the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005, which banned uranium mining within Navajo Indian Country. Sometimes, however, the identities may be in tension. For example, coal and oil extraction may benefit the economic interests of Native Nations which hold ownership interests in these resources, but may jeopardize the subsistence lifeways of other Native peoples who depend upon the integrity of their lands and waters, as well as the plants, animals and fish in those natural environments. In the era of climate change, these tensions are becoming particularly apparent, forcing Native peoples and policymakers to make difficult decisions about the optimal energy policies to guide the future. This essay compares the predominant model of decision-making, which uses a utilitarian cost-benefit analysis to construct the optimal policy to serve the interests of national and tribal governments in the present day, with the type of long-range thinking used by many land-based indigenous communities to promote sustainable use of lands and resources for several generations. The essay concludes that the current challenge of climate change poses an opportunity to transform our ways of thinking about environmental policy and energy development.

Keywords: Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Sustainability, Environmental Policy, Energy

Suggested Citation

Tsosie, Rebecca A., Keynote Address – Indigenous Peoples and Global Climate Change: Intercultural Models of Climate Equity (2010). Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, Vol. 25, p. 7, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1865999

Rebecca A. Tsosie (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

HOME PAGE: https://law.arizona.edu/rebecca-tsosie

Paper statistics

Downloads
109
Rank
211,257
Abstract Views
883