Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Energy


New!The Yakama Nation and the Cleanup of Hanford: Contested Meanings of Environmental Remediation

Author:Daniel A. Bush

In 1988 the former Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington was designated a Superfund site, and the federal government assumed the responsibility to clean the area of contaminants and toxic waste and make it safe for human use. This case investigates the complex relationship of Native Americans to that cleanup effort. More specifically it looks at the role of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation in the cleanup process, and while doing so raises questions about environmental security, justice and ethics, contested concepts of the cleanup and its aftermath, and severe challenges regarding treaty rights and obligations.

Is Anybody Listening?

Author:Charles Luckmann

By relocating 15,000 Navajos, did the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act, Public Law 93-531, violate the civil rights of Navajos living on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona? This case examines the law’s purpose, legal and historical antecedents, and alleged connections to mineral interests coveting the resources on Black Mesa. The case examines the lived experiences and cultures of the Navajos and Hopis affected by P.L. 93-531. It also examines the role the federal government, lawyers, and mineral interests played in precipitating the crisis. The case highlights those Navajos resisting the law. It examines their appeals to the U.S. judiciary for protection of their civil and religious freedoms, and why these appeals failed. The case is an example of how Western-based property law has undermined traditional Native American practices of collaboration and consensus.

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

Author:Kathleen M. Saul

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.

Alberta’s Oil Sands and the Rights of First Nations Peoples to Environmental Health

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD, DS

This case examines health and environmental issues of Alberta’s Cree First Nations and the rights of the Province of Alberta and lease-holders to develop the oil sands to extract petroleum. Although there are many environmental issues associated with the process of extracting the bitumen from the oil tar sands such as climate change, destruction of the boreal forest, and contamination of wetlands and muskegs, this case focuses on the tailings ponds and the environmental health issues that they are causing.

What are the Prospects for Energy Futures on Tribal Lands?

Author:Robert S. Cole

This case explores the scientific principles behind renewable energy conversion systems, including solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biofuel and biomass energies. The intent is to build a basis for understanding the current and potential future uses of renewable energies on tribal lands. The case suggests resources for students to investigate what tribes are already doing with the various types of renewable energies. The case also suggests resources for students to learn about the potential of renewable energy as a source of tribal employment, and to consider what training might be necessary for a career working with various types of renewable energy. This case is a research-based case that has the students doing work outside the classroom. The pedagogical method of this case is to break up a class of students into small groups, each of which will work on a different topic, or a different aspect of a given topic. For example, students might research and one of the following topics: solar power, wind power, biofuel and biomass production, energy conservation, or the energy management of tribal resource. The task for the students working in small groups is to research their topic, and to present their finding back to the class as a whole.

Blowing in the Wind: The Navajo Nation and Uranium

Author:Jovana J. Brown, PhD and Lori Lambert, PhD, DS, RN

The Navajo Nation was the site of extensive uranium mining and milling in the 1950’s through the 1980’s.  This mining and milling has left a terrible legacy for the people and the land.  Mine and mill workers were left with illness caused by radiation exposure.  Many of these workers have since died.  Abandoned mine and mill sites on the Navajo Nation continue to expose residents to harmful radiation.  Water supplies have been contaminated.  The Navajo Nation banned uranium mining in 2005.  Yet the menace of new uranium mines in and immediately adjacent to Navajo communities continues to threaten the Navajos. This case examines the history of uranium on the Navajo Nation and looks at the question of how new mining in and immediately adjacent to the Nation could occur. An appendix to the case briefly examines uranium mining on other American Indian lands.

Should the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Invest in a Woody Biomass Co-generation Facility?

Author:Kathleen M. Saul

Decades of fire suppression have left the national forests overgrown, littered with dead branches, leaves, and pine needles, and vulnerable to catastrophic wild fires. Global climate change has prompted an interest in sources of electricity that emit less carbon dioxide than coal. Those two factors come together as the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs decide whether to build a facility that uses woody materials (“biomass”) to generate electricity. The case explores some of the environmental, regulatory, and economic factors the Tribes might want to consider in their decision making process.

Should the Navajo Nation Build a Coal-Fired Power Plant?

Author:Jovana Brown and Nora Trahant

This two part case examines the proposal of the Navajo Nation to build a coal-fired power plant to generate electricity on its land. Part A explores the reasons why the Navajo Nation wishes to build the plant.  Part B describes the opposition which questions whether it should be built. The Navajo Nation says that this plant will have the lowest emissions of any coal-fired plant in the United States and will bring important economic benefits to the Navajo Nation by providing jobs and a steady source of revenue.  President Joe Shirley of the Navajo Nation states that the Nation chose to pursue this project as an exercise of its sovereignty. Opponents of the plant, many of whom are Navajo tribal members, say that this plant should not be built.  They say it will add considerably to air pollution already in the area and constitute a serious health hazard.  In addition to Navajo tribal members, the Governor of New Mexico, the Ute Mountain Tribe, and local environmental groups oppose the project.