Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Case Study

Cape Wind and the Sacred Sunrise of the Wampanoag: A Victory for Whom?

Author:Kathleen M. Saul

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This is a two part case. Part I of this case explores the technical aspects of the Cape Wind project: the use of turbines to harness the power of the wind and generate electricity, the key factors for wind farm location, and some of the environmental, cultural, and policy issues specific to the construction of Cape Wind. It concluded by asking the question, “Despite tribal resistance to the development, can the outcome of the events surrounding this project be considered a victory for Native American rights?”

Part II of the case begins many months later when it has become obvious that the initial optimism about the inclusion of Native Americans in the decision-making was very short-lived. After exploring the current status of the project, the case briefly demonstrates how existing Acts and legislation fail to protect Indian interests in situations like this one. The case concludes by asking readers to consider what types of actions might cause the government and perhaps even Cape Wind executives to reconsider the decision to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound.

Updated: January 17, 2012