Already existing dystopias: tribal sovereignty, extraction, and decolonizing the Anthropocene

Andrew Curley, Majerle Lister

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

20 Scopus citations


The climate justice movement conceptualizes Indigenous peoples as front-line, subsistence-based communities who will suffer disproportionately from climate change. This chapter argues that tribes are already impacted by colonial environmental governance, which created reservations, resource regimes and incentivized mineral extraction across tribal lands. The notion of tribal sovereignty is especially important for understanding how the politics of climate change play out across tribal nations. The chapter focuses on the history of oil, uranium and coal in the Navajo Nation in order to complicate our understandings of Indigenous peoples in climate change discourse. Ultimately, because of colonialism, the worlds of Indigenous peoples are forever altered and sometimes enmeshed in extractive politics in ways that are difficult to extricate. Decolonizing the Anthropocene requires awareness of existing resource politics and past colonial practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on the Changing Geographies of the State
Subtitle of host publicationNew Spaces of Geopolitics
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781788978057
ISBN (Print)9781788978040
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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