Indian rights and environmental ethics

Environmental Ethics 9 (4):291-302 (1987)
Abstract
The American environmental movement has a longstanding tradition of respect for American Indians. Recently, however, there has been a noticeable erosion of that tradition. The most volatile issues in the Indian/environmentalist controversey at present are those involving the right of many Indians to hunt and fish unrestricted by state or federal conservation regulations. Especially where endangered species areinvolved, some environmentalists have been quick to recommend that this unique privilege accorded to Indians be curtailed. While I share a deep concem for the preservation of endangered species and ecosystems, I suggest that the environmental movement has so far been insensitive to the concems of the American Indian community. Rather than simply seeking to take away rights to which Indians havebeen entitled for decades, environmentalists should be prepared to negotiate on such matters. As an example, I suggest that-in exchange for the Indians’ voluntary surrender of some of their treaty rights--environmentalists might agree to seek legislation opening national forest lands to Indians who wish to live subsistence life styles, as some Alaskan wildemess lands are now open to the Inuit
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