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Moriarty Science Seminar: Promoting Indigenous Participation in Environmental Governance
May 17, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Presents: Promoting Indigenous Participation in Environmental Governance
Speaker: Ryan E. Emanuel
Indigenous peoples often face barriers to participation in decision-making about their contemporary and ancestral territories. In the United States, the extent to which Indigenous voices are heard, let alone incorporated into decision-making, depends heavily on whether or not Native nations are recognized by the federal government. In eastern North Carolina, several non-federally recognized Native American tribes continue to occupy their ancestral territories near rivers, floodplains, pocosins (a regionally unique non-riparian wetland), and in interstitial uplands. Historically, these tribes were rarely involved in environmental affairs. The situation changed in 2017, when plans to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline prompted eastern North Carolina tribes to demand formal involvement in environmental decision-making. Their actions, along with responses by governments and corporations, expose barriers to participation in environmental governance faced by Indigenous peoples throughout the United States, but especially barriers faced by non-federally recognized tribes. The pipeline was cancelled in 2020, but lessons remain. I tell the story of the pipeline and its lessons through my lens as an environmental scientist who belongs to one of the affected tribes (Lumbee). I discuss Lumbee connections to land and water, how these connections are (or are not) reflected in environmental decision-making, and lessons for the future.