Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Environmental Justice


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.

Can the needs for environmental protection and biodiversity and the needs of indigenous people be reconciled?

Author:Robert S. Cole

This case addresses the tension between preserving land for biodiversity health and preserving land for the needs of indigenous peoples. It examines some of the organizations that work for land preservation for biodiversity throughout the world, but who often do not take into account the needs, concerns and rights of indigenous peoples who inhabit regions sought for preservation. The starting point for the case is the paper “A Challenge to Conservationists” by Mac Chapin, published by the Worldwatch Institute in its November/December 2004 publication World Watch. The case can be used to examine one instance of indigenous peoples fighting for a voice in land preservation campaigns, or any of a number of different indigenous peoples with these issues.

Native Fishing Practices and Oxygen Depletion in Hood Canal

Author:Cole, Robert S.

This case examines the contribution of dumping chum salmon carcasses into Hood Canal to the lowering of dissolved oxygen in the Canal. A report by the Puget Sound Action Team and the Hood Canal Coordinating Council studied the contribution of different factors to low dissolved oxygen levels in Hood Canal. This report presented the Skokomish Tribal Nation with a potential public relations issue regarding their traditional practices of dumping the chum salmon carcasses into the Canal. Students are challenged to discuss recommendations about what actions the Skokomish Nation should take based upon the findings of the report, upon issues of economic impact on tribal fishers, and upon issues of equity in addressing environmental problems.

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.

skwadi’lic, Board Feet, and the Cedar Tree

Author:Kurt W. Russo, PhD

This case examines the way in which cultural frames of reference influence our perspective on what constitutes real and true knowledge of nature. The case provides a description of the aboriginal landscape of the Lummi Indians of Washington State that gave rise to and sustained their unique social imaginary and lifeway. The case then examines how the Lummi Indians have worked to protect the remaining old-forests that are integral to their cultural traditions. The case brings to light two main points: 1) how values and perceptions influence the interpretation of this information by land management agencies and 2) how values and perceptions are shaped—or marginalized—by culturally determined frames of references.

Boundless Water and Bounded People: The Cultural and Social Implications of Shellfish Closures in Boundary Bay

Author:Emma S. Norman, Ph.D.

This case explores the closure of shellfish harvesting in Boundary Bay, a small body of water in the Salish Sea of the northwestern continental United States and southwestern Canada. At one time, this bay was one of the most productive shellfish harvesting locations on the Pacific coast. Coast Salish communities relied successfully on these waters for centuries as primary sources of food. However, degraded upland environment and bacterial contamination prompted governmental officials to close the area for harvesting in 1962. In Washington, the bay only recently opened for restricted use; it remains closed in British Columbia.

The Boundary Bay case presents several important themes regarding Native science, particularly within a transboundary context. First, the Boundary Bay case underscores the difficulty in maintaining a traditional food source in a contemporary environment. Second, the case reveals how jurisdictional fragmentation complicates the management of flow resources, such as water. Third, this case explores the practical considerations of ‘governing resources’ for First Nations communities who are often required to operate in a system, which requires expertise and training in a vocabulary and discourse foreign, and perhaps, counter-ethical to their belief system. Fourth, by way of looking forward, the case highlights the work of the