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78 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1625 (2007)
Indigenous People and Environmental Justice: The Impact of Climate Change

handle is hein.journals/ucollr78 and id is 1633 raw text is: INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE:
THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
REBECCA TsoSIE*
The international dialogue on climate change is currently fo-
cused on a strategy of adaptation that includes the projected
removal of entire communities, if necessary. Not surpris-
ingly, many of the geographical regions that are most vul-
nerable to the effects of climate change are also the tradi-
tional lands of indigenous communities. This article takes
the position that the adaptation strategy will prove genocidal
for many groups of indigenous people, and instead argues for
recognition of an indigenous right to environmental self-
determination, which would allow indigenous peoples to
maintain their cultural and political status upon their tradi-
tional lands. In the context of climate change policy, such a
right would impose affirmative requirements on nation-
states to engage in a mitigation strategy in order to avoid
catastrophic harm to indigenous peoples. This article argues
for a new conception of rights to address the unique harms of
climate change. An indigenous right to environmental self-
determination would be based on human rights norms in
recognition that sovereignty claims by indigenous groups
are not a sufficient basis to protect traditional ways of life
and the rich and unique cultural norms of such groups.
Similarly, tort-based theories of compensation for the harms
of climate change have only limited capacity to address the
concerns of indigenous peoples.
* Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar and Professor of Law
and Executive Director, Indian Legal Program, Sandra Day O'Connor College of
Law, Arizona State University. The author would like to thank Professor James
Nickel of the Arizona State University law faculty for his invaluable scholarly
contributions to international human rights law, particularly on the subject of
climate change, and for his suggestions on a very early draft of this article.

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