Trust “protection” in the status quo manifests as colonialism – indigenous nations are forced to make exploitative and environmentally harmful agreements in a false choice between destitution and devastation
Gough, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, 9
Gough 9—Intertribal Council On Utility Policy; paper submitted by Honor the Earth, the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the International Indian Treaty Council (Bob, Energy Justice in Native America, A Policy Paper for Consideration by the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress, www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1409857447) [DLP WPT] [Language edited – indigenized/nationized]
HISTORY OF EXPLOITATION AND ENERGY INJUSTICE
The history of resource exploitation, including conventional energy resources, in Indian Country has most recently been highlighted by the Cobell lawsuit against the Department of the Interior on behalf of individual Indian land owners, which requires both accountability of the federal trustees and a just settlement for the Indian plaintiffs. The programmatic exploitation of conventional energy resources has run an equally long and often deadly course in [indigenous] Indian Country, with a distinctly colonial flavor where [nations] tribes have supplied access to abundant natural resources under trust protection at rock bottom prices in sweetheart deals promoted by the federal government, yet often go un-served or underserved by the benefits of such development. Even the most recent federal energy legislation and incentives are still designed to encourage the development of tribal resources by outside corporate interests without ownership or equity participation of the host tribes.
The toxic legacy left by fossil fuel and uranium development on tribal lands remains today and will persist for generations, even without additional development. Mines and electrical generation facilities have had devastating health and cultural impactsin Indian country at all stages of the energy cycle-cancer from radioactive mining waste to respiratory illness caused by coal-fired power plant and oil refinery air emissions on and near [indigenous] Native lands. Native [indigenous] communities have been targeted in all proposals for long-term nuclear waste storage.
Compensation for uranium miners and their families has not been fulfilled from the last nuclear era, and every [indigenous] tribal government with uranium resources has opposed new uranium mining developments, including in the Grand Canyon, as an immoral and untenable burden for Native American communities. In addition, energy-related deforestation has serious climate change and human rights impacts for Indigenous communities globally. Approximately 20% of climate change-inducing emissions come from deforestation and land use, often from unsustainable energy projects, biofuel (agrofuel) and other monocrop development fueled by a need to satisfy tremendous foreign and World Bank debt obligations. On an international level, the US has yet to sign onto the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we believe signing onto this important agreement is an essential early step in the context of the administration’s dealings with Native America.
When considering energy and climate change policy, it is important that the White House and federal agencies consider the history of energy and mineral exploitation and [nations] tribes, and the potential to create a dramatic change with innovative policies. Too often [nations] tribes are presented with a false choice: either develop polluting energy resources or remain in dire poverty. Economic development need not come at the cost of maintaining cultural identity and thriving ecosystems. Providing incentives to develop further fossil fuels and uranium in Indian country will only continue the pattern of ignoring the well-being of [nations] tribes and Alaska Native villages in favor of short-sighted proposals that exploit the vulnerabilities of poor, politically isolated communities.