"We have a responsibility to this place": Indigenous Environmental Justice Advocacy in Northwestern California

Authors: Brittani Orona*,
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Ecology, Land Use
Keywords: environmental justice, California Indian geographies, activism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Galvez, , Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Abstract: Memory, place, space and time have heavily influenced indigenous environmental justice advocacy in California. This paper explores memory in advocacy surrounding water-rights/land rights issues on the Klamath River Basin from the viewpoint of the Hupa, Karuk, and Yurok people. The paper will trace memory and geographies related environmental policy and how indigenous worldview has been used to both advocate and protect the environment in the years following the Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association (1988) Supreme Court case and a massive fish die-off on the Klamath River Basin in 2010. Both events were the catalyst for advocacy surrounding land and water rights---and have shaped the ways in which indigenous environmental justice is utilized in Northwestern California. I argue that land rights activism for Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk communities eventually transformed from predominately religious and cultural rhetoric to activism that included natural resource rhetoric based on the outcome of the Lyng case. This shift in language has influenced broader national environmental justice initiatives in Indian Country. The paper explores the shift in rhetoric and the use of indigenous memory /geographies arising from environmental justice advocacy from the early 1980's to the present in Northwestern California.

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