Second Peoples of Color Environmental Leadership Summit
October 23-26, 2002
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES CAUCUS STATEMENT
In 1991, the first National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted the Principles of Environmental Justice as a platform to build a strong national and international environmental justice movement. Environmental Justice Principle 11 states:
“Environmental justice must recognize a special legal and national relationship of Native Peoples to the U.S. and Canadian government through treaties, agreements, compacts and covenants affirming sovereignty and self-determination.”
The Indigenous Caucus of the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit reaffirms its commitment to the Principles of Environmental Justice. The Indigenous Caucus, consisting of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hawaiian Natives, Canadian Natives, and Native youth, reaffirms United States treaty obligations that it and its colonialist predecessors entered into with our Sovereign Nations. We reaffirm their internationally legal and binding character as treaties between sovereign States under the Law of Nations at the time, as well as current international law today. We continue to demand our Sacred Treaty Rights and continue to protest their unilateral abrogation and non-observance by the United States.
We reaffirm the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and our inherent sovereignty over our traditional lands, waters, territories and natural resources.
The Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Second National People of Color Leadership Summit finds that the United States continues to violate its legal and moral obligations to Indigenous Peoples and their internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, evidenced by the expanding environmental and economic crisis occurring on Indigenous lands.
Examples and brief statements of this environmental and economic crisis include:
We see that our waters are being polluted with chemicals, sewage, disease and toxic and nuclear waste. We see our waters being depleted or converted into destructive uses in the following ways: the diversion of water systems to different lands; unsustainable economic, resource and recreational development; the transformation of excessive amounts of water into energy; depletion of water due to mining and milling activities; and the treatment of water as a commodity, a property interest, that can be bought, sold and traded in domestic, tri-national, and global economies. We see our waters governed by colonial and inhumane laws and practices that disconnect us as peoples from the ecosystem. These laws do not respect that life is sacred, that water is sacred, or that water is life.
As Indigenous Peoples, we raise our voices in solidarity to speak for the protection of water. The Creator placed us on this earth, each in our own sacred and traditional lands, to care for all of creation. We have always governed ourselves as peoples to ensure the protection and purity of water. We stand united to follow and implement our knowledge, laws, and self-determination to preserve water, to preserve life. Water, the first living spirit on this earth, gives life to all creation. Water, powerful and pristine, is the lifeblood that sustains life for all peoples, lands and creation.
We stand in support of the restoration of surface and ground water that all species depend upon for basic survival and further oppose the management policies that adversely impact the natural flows of surface water and the unsustainable depletion of ground water. Indigenous Peoples believe that water has a spirit and is critical to the health of Mother Earth.
We recognize that our knowledge and sustainable practices are essential links to the protection of water. To retain our connection to our waters, we must have the right to make decisions about waters at all levels. We call upon both our modern tribal governmental leaders, and with recognition of our traditional societies and traditional leadership, to develop laws and take action to protect water. We support the implementation of Indigenous legal systems in this effort.
MINING AND OIL DEVELOPMENT
All forms of mining, milling and oil extraction are unsustainable. These destructive development practices cause toxic contamination, ecological damage, diminished quality of life, negative impact on health and subsistent foods, depletion of water resources, climate change, loss of cultural practices, conflict and disruption within families and tribal membership, and loss of native languages.
We call for a study of the coal, uranium, and metallic mining activities that would account for the “external” costs of such activities. These externalities are the true costs and impacts upon the health and cultural integrity of local communities as well as the cost of biodiversity reduction in the natural environment today and for future generations.
We demand that all environmental assessment and environmental impact assessments on mining activities must include an assessment of cumulative impacts, including impacts to cultural landscapes, spiritual life ways, and human and ecological health impacts. We commit ourselves to participate actively in the realization of such impact assessments, including the participation of our practitioners of traditional knowledge, spiritual leaders, and locally impacted tribal members.
We call for our tribal governmental leaders and tribal members that are impacted by mining activities to look at these forms of mineral extraction activities and understand that the long term effects of mining activity and technology are not sustainable and may demand a call for action to phase out and shut down the mining activity and a call for moratorium on new mining development.
In case of mining shut down, we call for a just transition plan for workers in the mine and an economic just transition for the tribe that is impacted from lost revenues.
Due to the crisis of the unsustainable energy policy of the United States, we call for a moratorium on the following energy-related activities:
- The expansion of new exploration for the extraction of oil, natural gas and coal within and near Indigenous, Hawaii Native and Alaska Native lands and territories, especially in pristine areas and environmentally, socially, cultural, historically and sensitive areas. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to greenhouse gases that cause global warming and climate change.
- The construction of large dams in North America. Governments and multilateral institutions should utilize the framework proposed by the World Commission on Dams for an approach to development, based on the recognition of rights and assessment of risk and accumulative impacts including the assessment of cultural, spiritual and historical impacts.
- New nuclear power plants. We call for a phase-out and decommission of all nuclear power plants. The nuclear chain poses a life and death threat to our way of life. False promises of economic development have been and continue to be made to targeted tribal nations and communities in an abuse of government-to-government relations and tribal sovereignty. Short term economic gains in exchange for perpetual radioactive contamination of our air, water, lands and foods, as well as the spiritual and physical health of our communities is the final act of assimilation, acculturation and genocide.
- The expansion and exploration of new sites of uranium mining within and near indigenous lands and territories.
- The transportation and storage of radioactive waste. It is unfortunate, however, that we have nuclear waste currently being produced. Until technology is developed to safely dispose of radioactive waste, all waste should be stored, contained and monitored where it is created.
We will support and commit ourselves to use clean renewable energy sources to cover the energy needs of our tribal nations, its tribal membership, and communities. We call upon our modern tribal governmental leaders and traditional leadership to support and participate in the development and use of renewable clean energy resources.
We call upon the U.S. government to conduct a study on the use of fossil fuels, large-scale hydropower, and nuclear energy industries that would externalize their true costs and impacts upon the health and cultural integrity of our tribal nations, locally impacted communities and the natural environment, today and for future generations.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND CLIMATE JUSTICE
The United State is the largest consumer of fossil fuels. The burning of non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal has contributed to distressful and overwhelming impacts of climate change and global warming on the livelihood of Indigenous Peoples and all people worldwide. Every form of plant and animal life on this planet thrives due to its accustomed range of warmth and water. The rapid increase of carbon dioxide that has warmed the Earth’s atmosphere within our lifetime is due to the accelerated human consumption of long sequestered fossil fuels. This global warming is destabilizing the natural balance and dramatically disrupting the familiar range of temperature and humidity that sustains habitats upon which the diversity of life on this planet has grown accustomed.
No portion of humanity is more at risk to the impacts of changing climate than the world’s marginalized poor and Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples are the most vulnerable to climatic disruptions because we are crucially dependent upon intact natural habitats to sustain both our subsistence and our traditional cultures. At the same time, however, we are also the least responsible for the rapacious consumption of fossil fuels and for the unprecedented accumulation of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. Thus, for Indigenous Peoples who are often the first and worst impacted by climatic disruptions, increased variability, and extreme weather events climate change is an issue of climate justice. Indigenous Peoples in Alaska face climate impacts and climate change on a daily basis.
We call upon the United States to ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol and adopt equitable cross-sectoral strategies to mitigate the destruction of key carbon sequestration ecosystems.
We demand that the Kyoto Protocol goes beyond the 5.2% carbon dioxide elimination target, in order to meet the recommendation from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that recommended an immediate 60% reduction of carbon dioxide to stabilize global temperatures.
We urge careful consideration and caution against the implementation of the concept of carbon sinks and carbon-trading mechanisms within the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. The trading of “hot air” or carbon credits violates Indigenous principles of life and beliefs.
We call upon the United States to implement Climate Impact Assessments, which take into account Indigenous knowledge and observations, and the full and equal participation of Indigenous Peoples in all aspects and stages of the assessment.
We call upon climate justice energy policies to encourage Indigenous communities in developing sustainable homeland economies based upon clean renewable energy technologies (as opposed to conventional fossil fuels) large-scale hydropower, or nuclear energy industries.
We, the Indigenous communities of North America, have an abundance of undeveloped renewable energy resources many times over what would be necessary to meet the Kyoto targets of the United States and Canada. The Indigenous development of these clean resources would provide a tremendous economic benefit to many of America’s poorest communities.
We call for the United States to financially support the development of tribal-governmental programs and traditional community-based economies for clean renewable energy projects that can address existing social, economic, and environmental inequities that have resulted from past energy production. Such projects can prevent and reduce new inequities in the context of environmental and climate justice by building sustainable tribal homeland economies based upon renewable energy generation and the reduction of CO2 emissions.
We demand that the siting and operation of sustainable clean renewable energy projects must be respectful, must unconditionally protect sacred sites and cultural practices, and must also involve and be responsive to social, cultural, economic and environmental concerns of local communities.
LEGISLATION AND POLICIES RELATED TO ENERGY
The United States government must increase appropriations under Title 26 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to assist Indian tribes in pursuing energy self-sufficiency and to promote the development of vertically integrated, renewable energy economies on Indian reservations. The federal government must assist Indian tribes and communities in building their capacity to review, assess, own, and operate renewable energy projects for local needs and to replace this nation’s reliance upon carbon intensive energy resources.
The Indian renewable energy provisions and programs proposed in the Energy Policy Bill (HR 4), presently in conference committee, are “non-controversial” and should be supported for passage as part of any federal energy bill or as stand-alone legislation.
The United States federal government, as a treaty partner with Indigenous Peoples in the United States, must support Indigenous renewable energy development through the provision of technical and financial assistance to Indigenous communities and tribal nations in building community capacity and in the development of renewable energy projects. The federal government must help to build tribal capacity and must support Indigenous renewable energy projects through all of its energy related policies, including permitting, environmental review and assessment, siting, generation and transmission, and through the purchase of renewable energy and the associated environmental attributes that can be obtained from such Indigenous projects.
GLOBALIZATION AND TRADE
Economic globalization constitutes one of the main obstacles to the recognition of the rights of all Indigenous peoples. Transnational corporations based in the United States are imposing their global agenda on negotiations and agreements of the United Nations and global systems, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, reducing human rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and International Human Rights Conventions. Unsustainable extraction, harvesting, production and consumption patterns lead to climate change, widespread pollution and environmental destruction, evicting Indigenous Peoples in the United States and other countries from their lands and creating immense levels of poverty and disease.
We demand that all legislations, policies or work programs on forests and protected areas guarantee and rigorously respect our lands and territories, rights, needs and benefits, plus culturally, spiritually and historically significant areas, plus recognize our full rights to control and manage our forests.
We will defend the cultural value and material integrity of our forests, promoting adequate policies for this defense, and we call for the declaration of a moratorium on any harmful economic activity, including the granting of concessions for oil and timber exploitation or mining.
We stand in firm support of national legislation that seeks to protect areas of national forest that are not yet impacted by road development. It is also necessary to stop any further logging of old growth forest, particularly old growth cedar forests and redwood forests because of their cultural, spiritual, and medicinal value to Indigenous tribal nations. The clear-cutting of forests is detrimental to species habitat, traditional hunting and gathering areas, and the spiritual and cultural use of the forest.
We further call for the ecological restoration of our national and tribal forests and for management plans to promote forest health and multiple values derived from healthy ecosystems. We call for both the elimination and further introduction of exotic, genetically modified, and non-Indigenous plant species, insects, fungi, and any other biological plant species that are rapidly causing negative impacts to the health of the Indigenous Peoples, plant species, waters, and all our relations.
COASTAL RESOURCES AND OCEANS
Indigenous Peoples residing in coastal areas in Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. Continent have recorded increasing levels of pollution in the oceans, estuaries and marine fisheries. As a result of commercial over-harvesting, Indigenous peoples of Alaska and the Northwest have experienced diminished numbers of salmon and have had their subsistence fishing rights abridged. In Hawaii, where native fishing entitlements are not acknowledged, long line and gill net commercial vessels have depleted fish stocks throughout the Archipelago. Pollution in Hawaii coastal waters has resulted in high levels of ciguatera rendering in-shore fish and crustaceans unsafe for consumption and preventing subsistence harvesting by natives.
BIODIVERSITY / BIOTECHNOLOGY / BIOPIRACY / GENOMICS
Over consumption, development and pollution have resulted in a significant decline in biodiversity throughout the U.S.
In addition, Indigenous lands have become the targets of pharmaceutical and corporate researchers seeking to access and patent the endemic life forms which survive on Indigenous lands. The theft of these resources constitutes biological piracy. These unethical practices often begin with academic research conducted by anthropologists, ethnobotanist, and ethnobiologist who interview traditional knowledge keepers and elders to determine which species have medicinal applications. The copywriting of such research constitutes a theft of Indigenous knowledge that is the inalienable communal property of Indigenous Peoples within the United States and Canada.
The Human Genome project lists several Indigenous Peoples, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians as ‘isolates of historic interest’ who are destined for early extinction. Tissue and blood samples containing DNA’s building blocks of life are obtained from Indigenous Peoples in the United States under false pretenses. They are then commercially marketed for research marketed without the consent of the peoples involved who are consequently denied the right of participation and benefit sharing.
Biotechnology threatens the biological integrity of endemic species of plant and animals upon which Indigenous Peoples depend for food and medicine. Biotechnology threatens the integrity of human beings who receive tissue implants or consume genetically modified foods.
PROTECTION OF SACRED SITES
Based upon Indigenous Peoples' historic and cultural relationship to the earth, we understand and recognize that there are special places, boulders and rock outcroppings, caves, plants, and animals of spiritual power and energy that we refer to as sacred. This sacred environment has experienced significant attacks and threats of destruction by national environmental organizations, government officials, land management agencies and corporations which lack a basic understanding of the ceremonial, cultural and spiritual practices and beliefs of Indigenous peoples. These places are central and indispensable to the cultural, ceremonial and spiritual belief systems and practices of Indigenous Peoples and our survival.
Indigenous Peoples have historically and systematically been denied the fundamental human right and freedom to practice their religion through the prohibition of our cultural, ceremonial and spiritual practices and traditions, including denial of our access to sacred sites. This historic and ongoing denial includes the environmental damage and ruination inflicted upon the integrity of these sacred sites.
Environmental justice must affirm that Indigenous Peoples have an inherent right to preserve and protect the natural places that are regarded as vital and sacred to Indigenous Peoples' cultural and spiritual traditions.
Environmental justice requires the recognition of Indigenous Peoples' right to manage, protect and have access to our sacred and historically and culturally significant sites.
Environmental Justice calls for the restoration and repatriation to Indigenous Peoples of sacred sites that are vital to our cultural, ceremonial and spiritual traditions.
Environmental Justice requires that all human remains taken from Indigenous lands be returned to their appropriate Indigenous Peoples for proper burial in accordance with their own religious and cultural traditions.
Environmental Justice requires that all funerary objects taken from Indigenous lands be returned to their appropriate Indigenous Peoples for proper burial in accordance with their own religious and cultural traditions.
Federal laws do provide some rights for Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations in seeking to protect sacred places and the graves of ancestors. Under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), places that hold religious and cultural importance for a tribe or Native Hawaiian organization may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. If a proposed federal action might affect such a place, the concerned tribe or Native Hawaiian organization has a statutory right to participate as a consulting party pursuant to the regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. This is just a procedural right, however, and tribes and Native Hawaiians need the support of other organizations in persuading federal decision makers to protect these sacred historic places.
Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations also have important legal rights in regard to the graves of ancestors on federal lands, pursuant to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). These rights are not always respected, however. There is a need for federal officials to acknowledge and show respect for the religious importance of the graves of our ancestors.
FOOD SECURITY AND RIGHT TO FOOD
We will promote the conservation, sustainable use, and management of our traditional foods. We will also strengthen our own models, systems and networks of production and trade, and will urge the United States to guarantee the integrity of our biological habitats with careful consideration of toxic releases that enter our food systems and impacts from all forms of development and mineral extraction industries.
We will work against technologies and policies such as the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regimes that violate Indigenous Peoples’ rights to maintain our traditional knowledge, practices, seeds and other food related genetic resources.
We demand that the United States and its international outreach activities develop mechanisms to support Indigenous Peoples’ own practices and institutions to ensure food sovereignty.
In order to protect human health, native seeds and other food related genetic resources, the United States must declare an immediate moratorium on the development, cultivation, and use of genetically modified seeds, plants, fish and other organisms.
We demand that the United States government take immediate action to begin to work with Indigenous Peoples to stop the introduction of alien or invasive species which threaten the health of our traditional territories and food sources.
TOXICS AND HEALTH
We will continue to utilize, strengthen and protect our traditional health systems within our communities. Our indigenous health systems, practices, and traditional healers must be given due and equitable recognition. Our collective intellectual rights to our traditional medicines must be protected. The environmental justice and environmental movement must look through a woman’s gender-lens in order to understand environmental, health and reproductive impacts. Indigenous Peoples life-ways maintain a respect for the creative principle of the sacredness of our Mother Earth.
We demand that appropriate United States agencies and departments provide financing and equitable partnerships for our own health programs, projects and initiatives.
We request from the national health systems that treatments and vital medicines should be accessible, free of cost or available at an affordable price.
We will urge governments to take into account the particular vulnerability of indigenous children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women and take to the necessary steps to protect them from being exposed to harmful environmental pollutants and conditions.
We call for an immediate halt to any polluting activities on indigenous lands and territories and the adoption of mechanisms to contain and monitor existing pollution and its effects on the environment, including the oceans, and human health. We call for the immediate phasing out of leaded gasoline and other toxic substances.
We demand industries and governments to be accountable for the harms they have already caused to the environment and human health.
We demand compensation and reparation for the destruction of the environment, including the oceans, and exposure to toxics.
We demand that the United States expeditiously sign and ratify the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent concerning hazardous chemicals and pesticides; the Basel Convention and its 1995 ban on the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries; and the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention on ocean dumping.
We call upon the United States to identify and prioritize efforts to further integrate environmental and health concerns and solutions in all States, Tribal lands and Trans boundary territories of Canada and Mexico, especially in areas where Indigenous Peoples and local communities vulnerable to exposures reside.
We demand that the United States address and adopt the precautionary principle/approach, as set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration, in decision-making for sustainable development and to promote the precautionary principle as a decision-making factor in all U.S. policies and actions. The precautionary principle says: To avoid irreparable harm to the environment, ecosystem, and human health, precautionary action should be taken whenever it is acknowledged that a practice (or substance) could cause harm, even without conclusive scientific proof that it has caused harm or does cause harm. This precautionary action should mean that the practice (or emissions of the substance) should be prevented and eliminated.
We recognize that particular attention needs to be paid to issues of children’s environmental health in the context of sustainable development, economic development, and environmental protection. We commit to demand that the United States take steps to specifically recognize the special susceptibilities of children in the communities of Indigenous peoples and people of color and to protect them from harmful environmental conditions and exposures.
We demand that the United States government, through the Senate, commit to urgently ratifying the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and to depositing their instrument of ratification as soon as possible, such that the international Stockholm (POPs) Convention might enter into force.
We further demand that the U.S. Senate must pass legislation that will implement the full intent of the POPs treaty as a dynamic, flexible instrument to protect human health and that it must also assure that such dangerous chemicals can be quickly and efficiently eliminated in the future. Legislation must provide a process and mechanism to add other dangerous chemicals to the treaty in the future.
We demand that the United States, in its trust responsibility to Indigenous tribes in the U.S., provide adequate technical and financial assistance to enable American Indian and Alaska Natives to undertake related activities to eliminate POPs and other persistent toxic pollutants, including the use of bioaccumulative toxics in tribal commercial agricultural activities. We also demand that the United States government conduct community-based health and contaminants surveys and studies.
We demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency release the Dioxin Reassessment Report that it has been working on for nearly 10 years. The U.S. EPA agency still has not completed and released its reassessment of the potential health risks of human exposure to the most dangerous chemical known to science dioxin.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION REGULATORY INFRASTRUCTURE
We are concerned about the need for our tribal governments to develop and implement environmental protection programs. We are also concerned about the need for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies to provide support for the development of tribal programs, including environmental review and decision-making processes under tribal laws. While tribes are building their own programs, there is a need for EPA to implement federal laws directly, in cooperation with tribal governments.
The legal framework is largely in place for tribal governments to become partners in cooperative environmental federalism, taking on responsibilities like those of the states. Most tribes, however, simply do not have the resources to build programs that are comparable to those of the states. This is an environmental inequity issue.
The differences between tribes and states demand emphasis. Most tribes do not have sources of revenue comparable to the states, nor do they generally have access to the full range of federal financial and technical assistance programs for non-federal governments. Institutions that analyze the development of laws and other policy tools for use by states and local governments generally ignore the existence of tribal governments. In addition, tribal governments are subject to a diabolical body of law made by the Supreme Court that renders the exercise of tribal sovereignty risky. If the interests of non-Indians would be affected, people who object to something that a tribe proposes can go to court and argue that the tribe has been implicitly divested of its governmental authority over the subject at hand.
We call attention to “structural” inequality in the environmental protection infrastructure of the United States. Factors that contribute to this inequity include:
Federal environmental regulatory laws are largely administered and enforced by states.
Tribes generally lack the resources to develop and administer tribal programs under federal law, and so federal laws authorizing EPA to treat tribes like states are only part of the solution.
Tribes face a range of other challenges in developing regulatory programs.
US Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service and other federal agencies have limited resources to devote to direct implementation of federal laws and provide assistance to tribes to address environmental justice issues.
Given these factors, we find that the environmental regulatory infrastructure in most of the Indigenous territories of the United States (called “Indian country”) is generally not comparable to what it is outside of Indian country. In short, while it is now theoretically possible for tribes to be real partners in environmental protection, the reality is that tribes were invited into the partnership about two decades after the states and therefore not provided with enough resources to catch up.
Because of this inequality, almost any activity that causes environmental impacts in Indian country can result in disproportionate impacts on tribal communities, that is a “structural disproportionate impact.” Tribal employees are often stretched beyond their limits trying to build environmental protection programs. Violations of federal law may go unnoticed or unreported. In some cases, extraction industry, other business developers and people may be attracted to do business in Indian country because they have the impression that federal laws do not even apply.
We call attention to this comparative lack of environmental regulatory infrastructure as being the most serious environmental injustice issue confronting tribes as well as the people who live within reservations and in Alaska Native villages. We must deal with this issue in ways that support tribal sovereignty and the right of self-government. This issue involves the EPA budget federal funding for tribal programs has increased dramatically in recent years, but does not come close to meeting the needs. We recognize this issue involves the hard work of building environmental programs without enough staff or money, and trying to cope with the implications of the Supreme Court’s anti-tribal activism.
MAINSTREAM ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS
We reaffirm the need to speak for ourselves. After over 10 years of attempted understanding and collaboration, we note with some distress and disappointment the lack of real and consistent understanding and collaboration with mainstream environmental groups and other support groups. For example, we note that one major national mainstream organization that did in fact hire and develop Indigenous staff and programs, in a time of financial distress disproportionately eliminated Indigenous staff and programs and immediately forgot the commitments that it had made to Indigenous grass roots communities.
We also note that another large mainstream environmental group (in its own words to the Summit) does not consider wilderness, habitat, and water as environmental justice issues. Given that the very survival of Indigenous Peoples is directly threatened by their loss, the Indigenous Caucus can only decry the groups’ continuing and profound ignorance. We reaffirm the need to speak for ourselves.
INJUSTICE OF MAINSTREAM ORGANIZATION POPULATION CONTROL AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT INITIATIVES
We reject the policies of population control that have been supported by mainstream environmental organizations as a strategy to address environmental degradation. As Indigenous Peoples we recognize that our essential reproductive right to pass on our culture is innately connected to the struggle for cultural survival and control over our land base and natural resources. We call on mainstream environmental organizations to address the true causes of environmental destruction corporate policies, militarism, racism, colonialism, and economic disparities between poor and rich nations. We ask them to stop blaming women of color and their ability to reproduce as the cause of environmental destruction. We further reject efforts by many environmental organizations to establish a United States optimum population commission that would determine the “optimum number” of people in the United States which would then contribute to the support of anti-immigration and coercive contraceptive policies in order to achieve this “optimum number.” We also reject the “greening of hate” rhetoric within the environmental movement that has led many organizations to support anti-immigration policies under the rationale that it is immigrants who are causing environmental destruction.
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