Energy Development in Indian Country

Short Seminar

September 28–29, 2007

Energy Development in Indian CountryEnergy Development in Indian CountryShort Seminar Co-Chaired by Brian W. Frehner, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater and Sherry L. Smith, Professor, Department of History, Southern Methodist University. September 28–29, 2007.Energy Development in Indian CountryShort Seminar Co-Chaired by Brian W. Frehner, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater and Sherry L. Smith, Professor, Department of History, Southern Methodist University. September 28–29, 2007.

The central question addressed during this short seminar on Indians and energy was whether energy development on Indian land was a story of exploitation or of opportunity. “The collective answer,” wrote the organizers, “is both.” The participants included historians, cultural anthropologists, a legal scholar, and a Native American activist working against the Desert Rock Coal Plant. Some of their essays traced the growing power Native American tribes have begun to assert over their reservations’ natural resources. Tribes’ demands to exercise greater sovereignty over their land, and the federal government’s growing willingness to support this, was a major theme. The struggle to overthrow the legacies of colonialism has led to dividends in recent decades as renegotiated lease agreements return greater profits to the tribes. Another area of progress has been the realization of promises of Indian preference in hiring on energy-related projects.

Other themes discussed during the seminar included how the long history of energy resource exploitation in Indian country continues today and the negative side of energy development, such as the greater health risks to Native Americans associated with mining uranium and living near coal-fired power plants. The participants observed that energy development and its environmental consequences plague all communities, Indian and non-Indian.

Brian W. Frehner, Chair Assistant Professor, Department of History, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater Oil, Indians and Angie Debo: Politics, History and Energy Development on Tribal Lands
Sherry L. Smith, Chair Associate Director, William P. Clements Center, Southern Methodist University
Andrea Boardman Executive Director, William P. Clements Center, Southern Methodist University
Benedict Colombi Assistant Professor, American Indian Studies, University of Arizona Indigenous Peoples, Large Dams and Capital Intensive Energy Development: A View from the Lower Snake and Lower Colorado Rivers
Donald Fixico Distinguished Foundation Professor of History, Department of History, Arizona State University Understanding the Earth and the Demand on Energy Tribes
Leah Glaser Assistant Professor, Department of History, Central Connecticut State University Native American Power: The Electrification of Arizona’s Indian Reservations
Andrew Needham Assistant Professor, Department of History, New York University A Piece of the Action: Navajo Nationalism, Energy Development and Metropolitan Inequality
Colleen O'Neill Associate Professor/Associate Editor, Department of History, Utah State University Jobs and Sovereignty: American Indian Workers and Industrial Development in the Twentieth Century
Dana Powell Doctoral Student, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Rebecca Tsosie Professor of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Garrit Voggesser Senior Manager, Tribal Lands Conservation Program, National Wildlife Federation The Evolution of Federal Energy Policy for Tribal Lands and the Renewable Energy Future

Sponsored by The Annenberg Foundation

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