Trust or Bust: Complications with Tribal Trust Obligations and Environmental Sovereignty
54 Pages Posted: 24 May 2017
Date Written: May 23, 2017
The Native American framework for environmental protection places a sanctity on nature, which cannot be fully realized under either existing environmental protection laws or through the tribal trust obligations. In the face of these legal deficiencies, tribes and their members can consider resorting to other legal protections to assert tribal environmental sovereignty, including tribal treaty provisions and international human rights law. This Article assesses tribal sovereignty through the lens of energy infrastructure projects on Indian lands, and concludes that updates to the federal right-of-way law chisel away at tribal rights to land, property, and self-determination. A rights-based approach to tribal trust obligations offers heightened protections for these whittled-away rights.
Keywords: Indian Law, environmental law, pipelines, NEPA, tribal rights, energy law
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