Environmental Justice


The Recognition Dimensions of Environmental Justice in Indian Country

Whyte, K. P. (2011). The recognition dimensions of environmental justice in Indian country. Environmental justice, 4(4), 199-205.

Environmental justice theories that incorporate recognition justice will be best suited to evaluating the fairness of government-to-government relations, tribal institutions, and the provision of funds. I will make the case for a recognition-based conception of environmental justice. Though recognition is important to environmental justice in Indian country, there are three principle challenges that it faces: the sheer  particularity of the situations of different tribes, disagreements over what counts as traditional, and decisions by tribal governments that do not accord with many of the values of the environmental and environmental justice movements.

Indigenous Experience, Environmental Justice and Settler Colonialism

Whyte, K. (2016). Indigenous experience, environmental justice and settler colonialism. Nature and Experience: Phenomenology and the Environment. Edited by B. Bannon, 157-174. Rowman & Littlefield.

Indigenous peoples’ EJ movements focus on dimensions of injustice beyond the responsibility of social institutions for the distribution of nuisances, harms and goods. For many Indigenous peoples, I will argue, injustice also occurs when the social institutions of one society systematically erase certain social-ecological contexts, or horizons, that are vital for members of another society to experience themselves in the world as having responsibilities to other humans, nonhumans and the environment. Injustice, here, involves one society robbing another society of its capacities to experience the world as a place of collective life that its members feel responsible for maintaining into the future. I seek to show how this understanding of environmental injustice is highlighted in theories and research from the domain of Indigenous peoples and settler colonialism.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism

Whyte, K. (2017). The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and US Colonialism. Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities 19 (1): 154-169.

Starting in April 2016, thousands of people, led by Standing Rock Sioux Tribal members, gathered at camps to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)—creating the #NoDAPL movement. I am concerned with how critics of #NoDAPL often focus on defending the pipeline’s safety precautions or the many attempts the Army Corps of Engineers made at consulting the Tribe. Yet critics rarely engage what LaDonna Brave Bull Allard calls “the larger story.” To me, as an Indigenous supporter of #NoDAPL, one thread of the larger story concerns how DAPL is an injustice against the Tribe. The type of injustice is one that many other Indigenous peoples can identify with—U.S. settler colonialism. I seek to show how there are many layers to the settler colonial injustice behind DAPL that will take me, by the end of this essay, from U.S. disrespect of treaty promises in the 19th century to environmental sustainability and climate change in the 21st century.