Tribal Sovereignty and Climate Change: Moving Toward Intergovernmental Cooperation
NAVIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY: THE OPPORTUNITIES OF FEDERALISM, p. 48, Edella C. Schlager, Kirsten H. Engel, and Sally Rider, eds., University of Arizona Press, 2011
24 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2012
Date Written: 2011
Climate-change impacts directly affect the resources, communities, and cultural identity of tribal governments, but defining the role of tribal governments in addressing these impacts calls into question who decides the scope and content of tribal jurisdiction. Historically, state governments and the federal government sought ownership of Indian lands, and Congress and the courts privatized Indian lands and limited tribal authority, treating tribes as dependent nations and providing little opportunity for them to manage their natural resources as autonomous actors. In the 1970s, US Environmental Protection Agency recognized tribal governments as the primary parties for making environmental decisions and managing environmental programs on Indian lands and successfully lobbied Congress to recognize tribes as states for purposes of environmental laws. Recently, tribes have accessed US courts and international bodies seeking relief from climate-change impacts on human rights grounds. Although tribes' success in court has been limited to date, their efforts illustrate the proactive approach of tribal governments in addressing climate change.
Keywords: climate change, tribal government, tribal jurisdiction, environmental law, natural resources
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