Indian Country’s Right to Say No

Nick Martin, a member of the Sappony Tribe of North Carolina, has an extensive article in the New Republic focusing on the inadequate degree of consultation with Indigenous nations as infrastructure projects like pipelines are planned. Generally they are informed once the project planning is so far along they are able to have very little impact. He wonders what might change under the Biden administration—and even if there are great strides toward respecting Indigenous sovereignty, how the pendulum will swing back in the future.

How novel will this administration’s approach be to Indigenous rights? While one of Biden’s first moves was to cancel the permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, the Interior and the White House alike have stood silently by as the Line 3, Line 5, and Dakota Access pipelines all continue to transport oil across Indian Country. Conversely, it is undeniable that the injection of Native leaders such as Haaland and Newland, as well as Chuck Sams III at the National Parks Service and Heather Dawn Thompson at the Department of Agriculture, will force those federal agencies to better respect the legal and political rights of tribal nations.

Section of the totem pole that toured the U.S, on the Red Road to D.C. in June-July 2021

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