Tribal Air

58 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2023 Last revised: 10 Jan 2024

Date Written: June 3, 2023


Prevailing approaches to addressing environmental justice in Indian Country are inadequate. The dual pursuits of distributive and procedural justice do not fully account for the unique factors that make Indigenous environmental justice distinct—namely, the sovereign status of tribal nations and the ongoing impacts of colonization.

This article synthetizes interdisciplinary approaches to theorizing Indigenous environmental justice and proposes a framework to aid environmental law scholars and advocates. Specifically, by centering Indigenous environmental justice in terms of coloniality and self-determination, this framework can better critique and improve environmental governance regimes when it comes to pollution in Indian Country.

This article tests that framework on air regulation in Indian Country. Although many consider the Clean Air Act a regulatory success story, air pollution still disproportionately harms American Indians and Alaska Natives. To that end, Tribal Air offers a comprehensive account of air regulation in Indian Country, including a more detailed analysis of tribal air quality laws. It then applies theories of settler colonialism and instruments of self-determination to the implementation of the Clean Air Act in Indian Country. Together these concepts aspire towards an anti-colonialist purpose and offer important ways to achieve Indigenous environmental justice.

Keywords: Environmental Law, Environmental Justice, Indigenous Environmental Justice, Air Pollution

Suggested Citation

Skinner-Thompson, Jonathan, Tribal Air (June 3, 2023). 55 ARIZONA STATE LAW JOURNAL 1005 (2023), U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. #23-14, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Skinner-Thompson (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics