Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Catarina Passidomo-Townes

Second Advisor

Ann Fischer-Wirth

Third Advisor

David Rutherford

Relational Format



Climate change is a global issue that will affect most, if not all, populations on earth; however, it will not affect groups equally. While vulnerability varies between groups, poor, frontline, marginalized, and Indigenous people are particularly vulnerable. This thesis explores if the challenge of climate change as affecting multiple vulnerable populations presents emerging spaces in which American Indian sovereignty can be asserted. I provide a literature review on federal Indian policy and the American Indian Sovereignty movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I then analyze primary materials produced by the Indigenous Environmental Network and primary material surrounding the #NoDAPL movement. I conclude that climate change can present new spaces of coalition building and assertion of American Indian sovereignty through utilization of Climate Justice rhetoric. However, analysis of the #NoDAPL movement serves to show that American Indian voices must be central to movements about sovereignty as to not risk co-opting of the movement with alternative narratives.



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