TitleTribal Environmental Justice: Vulnerability, Trusteeship, and Equity under NEPA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHarper, B, Harris, S
JournalEnvironmental Justice
Pagination193 - 197
Date Published12/2011

The goal of environmental justice (EJ) is for all peoples to achieve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards. This suggests that impacts should be evaluated from the perspective of the affected community because only the community truly knows what is at risk from adverse impacts. If the EJ assessment is based solely on spatial analysis of demographic data with a criterion that 20% of a local community must be of a single ethnic group or below a certain income level in order to be recognized as an environmental justice community, then impacts to tribal natural resources and well-being will often be overlooked or significantly underestimated. When American Indian tribes and tribal resources are affected on or off a reservation, a proper impact assessment requires considerations of natural resource trusteeship, federal fiduciary trust obligations across ceded or usual and accustomed areas, and the spatial distribution of natural resources that are potentially impacted. This can be done within a standard National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) format by adding tribal narratives and tribal impact measures.