Indigenous Sovereignty And The Pursuit Of Natural Resources

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Indigenous Sovereignty and the Pursuit of Natural Resources Throughout the course of global and American history, the existence of indigenous peoples has been challenged and denied by colonialist powers, driven by the search for more resources – whether that may be land, gold, spices, or oil. As the interactions between indigenous peoples and colonizing nations continued, a complex history was woven, setting the scene for a complicated present in which the Native American tribe is not a state, nor an equal sovereign nation, but something else. The numerous court cases, treaties, and laws over the years have created an entity which resides outside the simple federalist structure of the United States of America and is yet irreversibly…show more content…
For the purposes of this paper, two case studies will be examined; one, a series of treaties, and the other, a series of federal legislation. Through the lens of close examination of these legal artifacts, conclusions can be drawn regarding the precedents surrounding natural resources, especially oil and natural gas, and how they clarify the legal and de facto sovereignty (or subjection) of Indigenous tribes. The Black Hills of South Dakota has long been contested territory between the Sioux and the United States government. The land is rich in gold, drawing speculators and miners to the region despite territorial boundaries. While gold is not a natural energy resource in the sense that it can be directly used for energy, the similarities between gold and oil are striking: they are finite, incredibly valuable, intrinsically tied to the earth and its cultural connotations. The The Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851) was the first treaty to address this land; the treaty outlined territorial boundaries among the Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, and (Lakota) Sioux Nations, and the United States, with the United States acknowledging that they had no claim to land otherwise claimed by one of the Nations. This first treaty arose as a solution to potential conflict from non-natives moving into Indian territory as part of the gold rush in 1848 as well as conflict between tribes. However, the gold
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