Her father was a Point Hope whaling captain. Her mother taught her how to butcher the bowhead and care for the meat. The family depended on the sea and land for so much. Caroline Cannon's lifelong connection to the Arctic Ocean pushed her to become one of the state's most vocal opponents of offshore oil drilling. Now, just as Shell Oil is poised to drill exploration wells off Alaska's northern coast, her advocacy has won her a coveted environmental award. Cannon, an Inupiat mother of nine and grandmother of 26, is one of this year's winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, described as the world's biggest for grassroots environmentalists.
It has been said that oil and gas companies follow a bible of sorts here in the jungles of Peru, a universal playbook of their most effective methods for convincing locals that a project will bring them development or—if the locals can’t be convinced of that—to get their way through less benign tactics. The playbook, a spin-off of tactics that date back in spirit to the conquistadores, has worked well until recently, when Indigenous Peoples started comparing notes. Now they’re calling those companies out, often appealing to international law, collaborating with environmentalists and other international observers, and using the Internet to warn others of a threat—and always maintaining the tried-and-true option of direct action in case words don’t work.
Climate change is the result of not behaving in the right way, according to the isolated Trio, an indigenous people living in Suriname’s Amazon forest near its border with Brazil. “They see climate change as big problem. They say their forests are changing, deteriorating,” said Gwendolyn Smith, a project director for the non-profit organization Amazon Conservation Team (ACT). ACT was launched by U.S. ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin and Costa Rican conservationist Liliana Madrigain Madrigal in 1996 to work with indigenous peoples in the rainforests of Suriname and elsewhere in the Amazon to retain their traditional knowledge.
A landmark settlement announced this week between the federal government and Native American tribes is expected to have long-term effects beyond the $1 billion in the agreement. Three Idaho tribes are part of the deal, the Coeur d’Alene, Nez Perce, and Shoshone-Bannock. Forty-one tribes filed lawsuits alleging the federal government mismanaged tribal accounts for generations. The accounts held decades of royalties on timber, farming, grazing and other leases on land held in trust for the tribes. Fletcher teaches indigenous law at Michigan State University. He says the $1 billion settlement goes a long way to address non-financial debts as well.
A Native American group will get its day in court, as the Ninth Circuit has revived part of a lawsuit that seeks permission to smoke marijuana for religious purposes. The Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii sued the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration after agents seized a $7,000 shipment of marijuana addressed to the church's founder in 2009, The Wall Street Journal reports. The church's lawsuit demanded the return of, or reimbursement for, the seized pot, which was intended for use during religious ceremonies. The church also sought a declaratory judgment affirming the legality of its members' religious marijuana use.