Old Treaties and New Alliances Empower Native Americans

by Kirk Johnson for the New York Times

The simmering standoff between the police and Native Americans and their allies who oppose a giant oil pipeline project in North Dakota is the most visible sign of an emerging movement that is shifting the debate about how public lands across North America should be managed.

From the rocky, pebbled beaches north of Seattle, where the Lummi Nation has led the fight against a proposed coal terminal, to southern Utah, where a coalition of tribes is demanding management rights over a proposed new national monument, to the tiny wooded community of Bella Bella, British Columbia, 350 miles north of the United States border, Native Americans are asserting old treaty rights and using tribal traditions to protect and manage federally owned land.

“If you want to own it, you have to act like you own it,” said Kelly Brown, the director of resource management for the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella. The Heiltsuk pressed the Canadian government for joint management of the local herring fishery and won this year through a campaign of sit-ins and political lobbying.

Read more on nytimes.com