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Priorities for the 21st Century: Land Back First, Environmental Concerns to Follow 
Chelsea Fairbank (University of Maine)
Sarah Dennison (University of Maine)
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Darren Ranco (University of Maine)
Tuesday 26 October, 13:00-14:30

Short Abstract:

To ensure colonial injustices are not reified as the globe grasps for sustainability the land back movement, unequivocal honoring of treaties, and Indigenous environmental governance must be centered when proposing climate mitigation goals, conservation efforts, and/or land management policies.

Long Abstract

Environmental rule often ignores and exacerbates social injustices through logics which favor utilitarian solutions. As the globe wrestles with acute climatic changes, a critical imperative becomes intervening in climate mitigation and sustainability goals, aimed towards the 'common good', which proxy indigeneity while treaty rights and tribal sovereignties continue to be sublimated. For example, climate mitigation policies contingent upon Indigenous stewardship of 'carbon sinks' act as analytical flashpoints, necessarily understood, as neocolonial attempts to continually manage Indigenous peoples and lands. While climate priorities are imperative, they often (re)produce slippages which thin Indigenous political agency and self-determined

strategies of environmental governance. In order to generate a negotiated and diplomatic existence between tribes, settler governments, and the technocratic regulatory bodies which continue to occupy native lands this session will interrogate emergent and ongoing expressions of environmental coloniality situated within settler states and, often, operationalized through policies concerned with the mitigation of climatic changes and/or conservation policies. While the effects of settler colonialism and genocide are still being experienced by most North American tribes and more-than-humans relations today this panel considers a remediation of harms through the relinquishment of stolen lands. Concurrently, this panel explores the return of Indigenous lands as a preemptive and necessary condition that situates social justice squarely within ecological terms. Where do climate mitigation efforts, conservation strategies, and land management policies conflict with tribal sovereignties, where may they align, and what tensions must be navigated in order to produce a new playbook of socio-ecological relations for the 21st century?

Accepted papers:

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