Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Possible energy aff CP

Recommended Posts

Found these going through Northwestern's open source stuff from last year, might be useful to someone:


Localized wind and solar offer an opportunity to move beyond conventional biopolitical models of development that exploit Indigenous culture and land and have resulted in the systematic extermination of Indigenous peoples

Powell 6—Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Appalachian State (Dana, Technologies of Existence: The indigenous environmental justice movement, www.cfeps.org/ss2008/ss08r/harcourt/harcourt3_powell.pdf)


In her work with the indigenous movement in Ecuador, Catherine Walsh speaks of the movement’s building of local alternatives as ‘the resignifying in meaning and practice of ‘development’ (Walsh, 2002: 7). Development, with its long history of top-down, state-driven, regulatory, and often export- and expert-oriented goals, is being increasingly challenged by indigenous social movements in the Americas seeking to decentralize and gain local control over various aspects of governance, economic growth, cultural projects, and natural resources. Not completely unlike the Ecuadorian Pachakutik movement Walsh describes, the movement for ‘environmental justice’ in indigenous communities in the US is experimenting with alternative strategies to restructure the production of power to advance democracy and sovereignty for indigenous communities. This essay addresses the possible resignification of development being produced by the practices and discourses of a particular indigenous movement in the US, ses controversies over natural resource management on reservation lands. In particular, I consider the emergence of renewable energy projects within the movement as new modes of economic, ecological, and cultural development, countering the history of olitical regimes of natural resource extraction, which have marked indigenous experience in North America since Contact. I argue that these emerging technologies not only resist but also propose alternatives to the dominant models of energy production in the US.¶ Background¶ The Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975 enabled American Indian tribes for the first time to self-determine their own resource policies and regulatory agencies, overseeing tribal programs, services, and development projects. In 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act opened the way for the development of casinos on reservations as a new mode of tribal economic development, and today 34% of all federally recognized tribes run full-scale (class III) casino gambling, although only a minute fraction of these represents the soaring economic success of places like the Foxwoods Casino and Resort on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation. These and other approaches to economic development ^ especially natural resource extraction and casino gaming ^ have become issues of intense debate among scholars and activists (LaDuke, 1999; Gedicks, 2001; Blaser et al., 2004; Cattelino, 2004; Hosmer and O’Neill, 2004), as well as among tribal governments, federal agencies, and within the general population. In the cacophony of competing moral claims and recommended approaches elicited by these various controversies, the voices with alternative proposals are sometimes lost. Against these two dominant approaches, there is another trend in tribal economic development beginning to emerge, connected to the indigenous environmental justice movement (IEJM) in North America and critical of neo-liberal development models. Drawing upon an historical conflict over resource extraction on reservation lands (see Figure 1), this movement is turning towards what David Korten has called an ‘emergent alternative wisdom’ of development practice (Korten, 2005).¶ This trend, embedded in a broader network of environmental justice projects in Native America, is a move towards renewable energy technologies on reservations: wind power and solar power in particular. While these projects engage wider energy markets, global discourses on climate change and the ‘end of oil’, and funds from federal agencies, they also embody an alternative knowledge grounded in an historical, indigenous social movement in which economic justice for indigenous peoples is intimately intermeshed with questions of ecological wellness and cultural preservation. As such, wind and solar technologies are being presented and implemented as alternative approaches to dominant practices of economic development and carry with them a history of centuries of struggle, as well as the hope for a better future.¶ These emerging practices of a social movement-driven development agenda draw our attention to the cultural politics, meanings, histories, and conceptual contributions posited by unconventional development projects. As part of an emerging movement in support of localized wind and solar energy production on tribal lands, these projects are responses to the biopolitical operations of 20th century development projects. They respond to a long history of removal, regulation, knowledge production, and life-propagating techniques administered on reservation-based peoples. The movement itself addresses controversies in a way that interweaves the economic, the ecological, the cultural, and the embodied aspects of being and being well in the world; as a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) said to me:¶ The movement is really about health and people dying … people can’t have an enjoyable life anymore. The work of the movement is never about the power plant itself, but about how all the EJ (environmental justice) issues come together and link up to affect people’s lives … its about having a good life (B Shimek, 2004, personal communication).¶ Such an analysis resonates with Arturo Escobar’s emphasis on a framework of a ‘political ecology of difference’ and the need to consider ‘cultural distribution’ conflicts in studies or other engagements with natural resource issues (Escobar (2006) Introduction). Concerns of ‘cultural distribution’ have become crucial work for the IEJM as it seeks to resignify development as ‘environmental justice’ in the context of a particular history of illness and disease, environmental contamination, poverty, and place-based worldviews. I argue that the way in which the IEJM has coalesced around these alternative development projects suggests that these projects are ‘technologies of resistance’ (Hess, 1995) to dominant forms of economic development, but also ^ and perhaps more significantly ^ imaginative technologies of existence, mediating a particular discourse of natural resource controversies, including values of a ‘good life’. As such, renewable energy technologies are resignifying the politics of ‘sustainability’ through the movement’s concept of ‘environmental justice’, which cuts across reductive interpretations of economy, ecology, and culture.¶ Development as a biopolitical operation¶ In analysing development as a biopolitical operation, I follow other feminist scholars and development critics who have considered the biopolitical effects of particular development discourses on women’s bodies and movements (Harcourt, 2005) and labour and corporations (Charkiewicz, 2005). As they argue, the post World War II model of development as a project driven by Western states to modernize other ‘emerging’ states and bring them into a geopolitical sphere of economic control is, at its base, an exertion of biopower on particular (gendered, raced, labouring) bodies. Michel Foucault described biopower as the power of the state ‘to make live and let die’, in contrast to the disciplinary power of monarchical states, which exerted a sovereign’s power ‘to make die and let live’ (Foucault, 2003). In other words, the king controlled his subjects by the threat (and occasional enactment) of killing some and letting others live, in order to maintain control, whereas the modern state makes less of a spectacle out of individual killings and exerts its force over populations instead, managing the species through techniques of regulating birth, mortality, biological disabilities, and the effects of the environment. The significant shift to a regime of biopower is the new target of control: the population. When viewed as a biopolitical operation, development programs of the post-war model (which has lingered and reproduced itself in various forms on into the 21st century) are revealed as schemes to control populations ^ in particular, ‘Third World’ populations defined by the West as political problems and scientific problems, as well as economic opportunities.¶ A similar history runs through Native America, as this ‘Fourth World’ population was a target of regulation, management, and biological speculation from the moment of Contact, over 500 years ago. Indigenous populations worldwide have experienced the effects of biopower, especially in terms of the management and extraction of natural resources (including bodies and, more recently, etic information), but in the Americas the situation is geo-historically particular, given the sweeping catastrophe of disease, decimating what some have estimated to be 95 per cent of the pre-Contact population. Another particularity of the North American situation is that, over the long history of occupation since 1492, tribal populations have been alternately exterminated, removed, recombined, relocated, and politically reorganized by state institutions, often under the guise of care and patrimony. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, tribes as populations were regulated and made to live through land enclosures, creating spatial patterns of security, on frontier lands considered undesirable to European colonists. This desirability was, however, based on the visible alone; the resources that laid beneath the surface of the often barren, dry reservations would emerge in the 20th century as some of the most coveted commodities on earth (Figure 2).¶ In sum, thinking of the history of development as a biopolitical operation to manage the life of populations of indigenous peoples in the Americas allows us to see the regulatory operations of the state, sometimes glossed as integrationist policies, as has been the trend in Latin America with the history of indigenismo (Sawyer, 2004), and sometimes framed as patrimony and treaty responsibility, as in the United States, with the ‘Indian New Deal’ in the 1930s (Collier, 1938). Moreover, it provides a way of understanding the history of state-driven development models as regimes of controlling, regulating, and organizing particular bodies and environments ^ the antithesis of the liberal, humanitarian projects these regimes have often claimed to be. Finally, as I move to discuss the IEJM and the emergence of wind and solar power projects on reservations, these technologies of resistance and existence can be thought of as counter-projects to the biopower of 20th century models of development, which have exacted significant ecological and cultural costs from tribes, in service of a reductive, disembedded view of economic growth.¶ Emergence of wind and solar power projects in the IEJM¶ In 2003, the first utility scale, indigenous-owned and operated wind turbine in the US was installed on the Rosebud Sicangu Lakota reservation in South Dakota. The project took eight years of organizing, fundraising, and coordinating among the tribal government, the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (ICOUP), the Department of Energy, local activists and indigenous non-governmental organization Honour the Earth (HTE). Rising to 190ft tall, the 750kW, Danish-manufactured wind turbine was installed with ceremony and great expectation as the first of many to come. As the closest structures to the turbine site, the Rosebud casino and its adjacent hotel will consume the wind’s power until new lines are constructed to carry it deeper into the reservation to individual homes. The turbine at Rosebud was installed as the first among several emerging wind energy projects on Native American reservations from the Dakotas to Montana and Colorado. Bob Gough of ICOUP explains that this technology is being used to promote a wider campaign for renewable energy on other reservations:¶ This turbine could have been simply a stand-alone project and the tribe would have been pleased enough. This is really a show horse. It’s there at the casino to get high visibility ^ we’re going to have information kiosks to teach people about it. But this project was also designed to take us through all the steps we need to learn to build more of these. There’s a lot more than just putting up a wind turbine and connecting a few wires. With wind turbines you’re connecting into the North American electricity grid, the largest machine in the world, which involves a lot of rules and policies.We’ve used this as an opportunity to learn how to do this on a larger scale, and we are sharing that with any of the other tribes that are interested (Tidwell, 2003: 3).¶ Situated within the broader IEJM in North America, these projects mark a shift towards wind energy activism within the movement, which traces its own history of resistance to the recent action of the 1960s and 1970s, but more deeply to the resistance that has always been a part of the colonial experience of being occupied and ‘developed’. The Rosebud turbine is a community based development project imagined and executed by local and regional activists and engineers, but funded by a combination of national foundations and federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, Department of Interior and US Department of Agriculture, making for complex and contradictory alliances between tribes and the state. The project is also situated within the context of environmental and political debates on energy development around the state of South Dakota, where plans are underway to develop 2000 MW of coal-fired power by the end of 2010 (LaDuke, 2004). The wind turbine is moving to centre stage as a potential solution to many of movement’s primary concerns: climate and ecological change, natural resource conflicts, cultural preservation, globalization, and tribal sovereignty.¶ Twenty years earlier and1100 miles south, Hopi engineers, activists, and tribal leaders began to install solar photovoltaic panels on rooftops of residential homes, bringing electricity to families who had been living off the grid, without electricity Projects on the Hopi and Navajo reservations have proliferated over the past two decades, with the Hopi solar business NativeSun and engineer Debby Tewa leading the way. In recent years, these projects have connected with the emerging wind power projects in the Plains region, through the work of the national Native NGOs, HTE, and the IEN, and have become central to these groups’ common visions and overlapping strategies of environmental justice and sustainable development on tribal lands. In the last two years, these two national networks have collaborated with grassroots environmental and cultural protection organizations to install additional technologies on Newe Segobia, or Western Shoshone territory, on the Pine Ridge Lakota reservation, and on the Navajo reservation. These installations have become intermeshed with ongoing indigenous environmental justice campaigns focused on conflicts centring primarily on aspects of energy production, such as the recent conflicts over the proposed mining of the sacred Zuni Salt Lake; the proposed federal nuclear waste storage sites on the Skull Valley Goshute reservation and at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; and uranium mining on the Navajo and Hopi reservations. In several of these cases, the environmental justice activists are challenging tribal governments’ contracts with regional utilities and/or federal agencies. Without a long digression into the history and politics of natural resource use and development on reservation lands, suffice to say it is not always but is often a site of intense internal debate and conflict for tribes themselves.¶ The significance of the relatively recent emergence of wind and solar technologies as tribal development projects is that tribes are increasingly connecting into this network of renewable energy activism as a means of economic growth, ecological protection, and cultural preservation. Seemingly an oxymoron ^ to preserve ‘tradition’ with the use of high-tech machines ^ advocates of wind and solar power emphasize that cultural preservation is itself about flexible practices, change, and honouring worldviews in which the modernist distinction between nature and culture is nonsensical. In other words, when some of the most important cultural resources are the land itself (i.e., mountains for ceremonies, waters for fishing, soils for growing indigenous foods), to protect nature is also to protect culture. As Bruno Latour has also argued, this natures-cultures epistemology is also ontology ^ a different way of knowing, inhabiting and engaging the world (Latour, 1993, 2005). Wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels are articulating with this worldview, and at the same time articulating with many tribes’ desires to move beyond fossil fuel extraction as a primary means of economic development, and towards natural resource practices that are more ‘sustainable’. The wind and the sun introduce new elements of common property to be harnessed for alternative development projects and increased decentralization and ownership over the means of power production.¶ Technologies of existence¶ This recent emergence of renewable energy technologies on reservations inspires analysis of natural resource conflicts to move beyond models of resistance in understanding controversies and social struggles over resource management and energy production to seeing the ways in which concepts such as ‘sustainability’ are being resignified through the introduction of what I argue are imaginative technologies of existence. I stress existence over resistance not to obscure the contestations of federal, tribal, and utility consortium proposals for natural resource development, which have been importantly detailed elsewhere (Gedicks, 2001), but to emphasize the creative, imaginative work of the movement in envisioning and enacting alternative ways for tribes to self-sustain and grow healthy economies, ecologies, cultures, and bodies in an integrated manner. There are other technologies of existence engaging particular, situated natural resource conflicts within the movement: recovery of customary foods and harvesting practices, coalition-building around water rights and resources, restoration of salmon and sturgeon populations, and projects involving information and film media as a means of preserving and producing the ‘natural’ resource of culture itself. This constellation of resources ^ energy, food, water, and culture ^ are of central concern to the IEJM and creating sustainable methods of generating each advances the ‘good life’ towards which the movement’s work strives. ¶ In this sense, wind and solar projects on reservations are not technologies of existence to ‘make live’ in the biopolitical sense of a population’s ensured biological survival and micro-practices of regulation, but technologies that articulate with desire, history, localization, imagination, and being in a way in which the meaning of ‘existence’ exceeds a definition of continued biological survival or reproduction. These technologies are about a particular quality of existence that speaks to the late Latin root of the word, existentia, which comes from the earlier Latin exsistere, meaning ‘come into being,’ itself a combination of ex ‘out’ þ sistere ‘take a stand’ (O.A.D., 2001). Thus, when ‘existence’ recovers the notions of coming into being, externality, and taking a stand, what it means to live and to grow is inherently active and perhaps even risky. Sustainability, then, in the context of the IEJM, is a bold existence and set of practices informed by a particular history of struggle and oriented towards a future of well-being, in which the economic, the ecological, and the cultural are interdependent and mutually constitutive.¶ The movement’s concept of ‘environmental justice’conveys such a non-reductive understanding of sustainability as a certain quality of existence. The concept proliferates and circulates through the geographically dispersed installations of wind turbines and solar panels (among the other technologies of existence) and is reinforced at national and transnational gatherings of HTE and the IEN. As an enunciation of sustainability, ‘environmental justice’ recalls specific cases of contamination on indigenous lands, articulates with broader environmental and anti-racist movements worldwide, and critiques dominant approaches to development by posing concrete alternatives. This is a critical, alternative knowledge being produced through the networked practices of a specific social movement. It is not the sustainability of the ‘triple bottom line’ in neo-liberal theory that self-congratulates its attention not only to capital but also to pre-figured notions of the environment and society; though it is also not a romanticized ‘traditional’ wisdom of indigenous people, endowed with some sort of essentialist knowledge and protective role for the natural world. It is, instead, a sophisticated hybrid concept ^ in which knowledges of wider energy and trade markets, science and engineering, local resource management issues, global processes of climate change and wars for oil, and the relational knowing that comes with enacted attachments to place, converge to inform and generate a call for ‘environmental justice,’ implemented through specific material technologies.


Advocating for Native renewable energy development is necessary to create epistemological fissures that can begin to rectify historical traumas of energy exploitation

Powell and Curley 9—Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Appalachian State—AND—Researcher, Diné Policy Institute, Navajo Nation (Dana and Andrew, K’e, Hozhó, and Non-governmental Politics on the Navajo Nation: Ontologies of Difference Manifest in Environmental Activism, http://www.ram-wan.net/documents/05_e_Journal/journal-4/5-powell.pdf)FLD=Fundamental Laws of the Dine


In this paper, we explore how non-governmental political action on the Navajo Nation, and environmental activism, in particular, is organized around the perennial question of development, and the ontological frictions that produce and continue to shape these debates. At the same time, we suggest that these ontological differences are never complete or total, but in fact are the result of historical processes of lived experience, as much dependent upon the circulations of “outside†forces such as popular culture, higher education, global pan-Indigenous movements, and the traveling discourses of environmentalism, climate change, and environmental justice, as upon anything inherently Diné. The effects of such global forces work to produce political actors who very often move and operate across the boundaries of well-worn categories such as “tradition†and “modernity,†“grassroots†and “governmental.†The experience of indigeneity itself is forged in and through encounters, always a relational, unpredictable, and “open-ended process,†as others have shown (see de la Cadena and Starn 2007). The result is a process of frictions, fractures, and flows of political action, in which differing senses of what the world is and should be (what we herein call “ontologiesâ€) generate an opening for exploring how a sense of unique identity (what it means to be specifically Diné) is being worked out through environmental activism and contested interpretations of ethics, “nature†and “culture.†In this sense, social movement actors are contributing in an active and meaningful way to local, regional, and national debates on the future of particular extractive industries (in this case, mining) on indigenous territories. The knowledge they bring forth and mobilize is, we will show, integral to the Nation-wide debates on the future of energy for the tribe and the region. Through this paper, we aim to contribute to the interdisciplinary fields of social movements studies and development studies, which have largely overlooked, as Bebbington points out, “the roles of rural social movements in mediating the effects of large scale capital investment on rural livelihoods and territorial change†(Bebbington et al 2008: 4). Like others (see Escobar 1998 and Hess 2005), we view the work of social movements to be crucial in shaping the discourse, knowledge, and future of not only how development technologies are implemented (or not) in particular places, but how the very conceptual framework of “development†itself is thought, spoken, and transformed. 3¶ [Continues]¶ In conjunction with the FLD, tribal members have used other Diné ethical principles such as dóó nal yee dah to support their call for the prohibition on uranium mining and milling on and around Diné territory. Dóó nal yee dah, which roughly translates to “certain substances within the Earth that are harmful to the People should not be disturbed,†was derived from consultations by environmental groups with medicine people and other tribal elders with traditional/historical knowledge. Once introduced, use of similar customary principles and concepts have taken hold and proliferated in other struggles. More recently, the group Diné CARE (Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment) issued a report on economic and energy alternatives to a proposed 1500-megawatt coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation known as the Desert Rock Energy Project, using FLD and other related Diné ethical principles as the basis of their argument in a 200-page report laying out economic and energy alternatives to the proposed coal plant. 10 The report’s Introduction cites the 2005 Diné Natural Resources Protection Act (DNRPA) and its use of FLD as an authoritative basis and point of departure for their own argument:¶ “DNRPA and its incorporation of Diné Fundamental Laws to ban uranium activities make evident for Navajo energy development and economy to be “rebalanced†through the traditional concept of Alch’i Silá (“they face/relate each otherâ€), rectifying the historical trauma of energy development and mining with sustainable renewable technology in accordance with foundational principles†(Diné CARE 2008).¶ Building on this call for “rebalancing†through new and different technologies, the report continues to draw upon Diné worldview and values to argue for investment in solar and wind power on the Navajo Nation, instead of coal-fired power. Stressing core Diné ethics of hozhó (“beauty, or balanceâ€), k’e (“relationsâ€), and áná’áál’ii’ nitl’iiz niná’nil (“atonement by putting things in placeâ€) and also explicating the technicalities of concentrated solar power technology, the report stands out in its unique usage of Diné ontology and epistemology combined with technical knowledge and renewable energy expertise. 11¶ Also drawing on Diné Natural Law and ontological difference, other non-governmental Navajo groups have sustained long term public campaigns challenging development projects in areas outside of reservation geopolitical boundaries, but in places that are considered part of their historic territory and sacred to the Diné (as well as other Native peoples of the region). In several recent cases, activists have mounted challenges to development activity on what are considered to be holy mountains that play an important role in Navajo cosmology, as sites of the birth and resting places of specific and central deities such as Changing Woman, and her twin sons, Monster Slayer and Born-for-Water. These mountains are sacred in Navajo belief and are the geographic, historical boundaries for Dinétah, the Navajo territory. An example of one such struggle is the “Save The Peaks†movement, centered in Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the larger Navajo and nonNative “border towns†of the reservation. The Flagstaff-based Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC), a coalition of Navajo and Hopi organizers, along with non-Native allies opposed the city’s plan to use recycled effluent, or city wastewater to create “snow†for the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area. This ski area was slated as a tourist attraction on the mountain known, in English, as the San Francisco Peaks. This mountain, known as Dook’sliid by the Diné, is the westernmost of their four sacred mountains. In their campaigns, BMWC and the affiliated organizations used the FLD and other traditional/historical principles as a central organizing ethic for their “environmental justice†work. Interestingly, in this particular campaign – as in the campaign that culminated in the moratorium on uranium mining – the Navajo Nation Council has aligned with non-governmental actors against the developers, also deploying FLD and invoking cultural preservation as the basis for protecting these landscapes. ¶ Admittedly, use of customary principles serves as a pragmatic legal strategy, but there remains strong use of these concepts within the meaning-making work that goes on within Diné non-governmental politics. In fact, it is precisely the contested meanings of FLD that fuel the debates over various development technologies, as evidenced in all ten of the public hearings for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Desert Rock Energy Project (coal fired power plant) during the Summer of 2007. The meaning-making work of these social movement actors is crucial to their political subjectivities and epistemologies, which are significant products of the cultural politics they are engaged in. In other words, their efficacy and agency cannot be measured only in terms of “political opportunities†or directly causal factors, but operates as well at the level of knowledge production and resignification. 12 What’s more, many of Navajo non-governmental actors express extreme dissatisfaction with the decision-making processes currently operating in the Navajo Nation government, while at the same time stressing the central importance of tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and good governance. ¶ Significantly, leaders within environmental justice organizations critique the structure of the tribal government as a systemic cause for dissonance between industrial/extractive development and traditional notions of environment. These organizations argue (as do many scholars, see Iverson) that because the Navajo Nation government was created by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1923 as an instrument of extended colonial rule and relations between the U.S. federal government and the Navajo people in the interests of extractive industry, the current government is both non-traditional, colonial, and structured to act more in the interests of large corporations than in the interests of the Navajo people. In other words, grassroots organizations question the legitimacy of formal political institutions on the Navajo Nation, now in existence for only 80 years, while using historical Diné knowledge, which, although it has evolved over time, has a much longer history. As such, the politics of authenticity and heritage is forged where ethical teachings engage modern institutions, implicating and generating a diverse array of Diné identities. This sort of contentious social practice yields shifting personal and collective identifications, often through these contested ontologies and epistemologies. Following Holland and Lave (2001), relationships between enduring struggles (such as contested modes of governance) and historical subjectivities (the activists, the council members, and others) are mediated through local, situated practice, such as the debate over existing and proposed development projects. And the sides of the debate on which specific actors will fall is never fully foreseeable.

Edited by SnarkosaurusRex
  • Upvote 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...