Protect Indigenous lands

What's At Stake

Far too often, projects that affect Native American lands, waters, and cultural resources begin construction without proper consent, forcing tribal communities to the front lines to fight on everyone’s behalf for what should already be protected by law. Tell the Biden administration to fully recognize the rights of tribal nations and Indigenous peoples under tribal, U.S., and international law.

Earthjustice clients take on this fight every day to protect their sacred sites and ancestral homelands from destructive mining and fossil fuel projects. In Michigan and Wisconsin, the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa are fighting to prevent the dangerous Line 5 oil pipeline from destroying their sacred waters, their economic livelihoods, and their treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and harvest wild rice. In Arizona, the Hualapai Tribe is facing rampant mineral extraction that could permanently damage their sacred hot spring. Further south, the Tohono O’odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe continue to fend off the open-pit Copper World Complex mine that would destroy their ancestral lands.

We must protect the most sacred places where Indigenous peoples pray, gather traditional foods and medicines, get drinking water, and visit to remind themselves of the ways their ancestors lived. 

We are in an environmental, climate, and racial justice crisis. Indigenous peoples care for and protect 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity — environmental advocacy cannot succeed without Indigenous rights and leadership.

We call on the Biden administration to build on his 2022 memorandum on consultation by issuing an executive order directing all federal agencies to require the engagement and the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of affected Tribal Nations early in the planning process and before a project is approved. 

Tribal Nations must be part of the decision-making process. No more oil pipelines threatening water supplies without the consent of tribes. No more oil and gas drilling in ancient burial sites without tribal permission. No more large-scale mining projects without tribes’ participation in planning and consent.

The U.S. must uphold the rights of Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, as set forth by the United Nations.

Red Road to DC event at Bears Ears, Utah. on July 17, 2021.
Red Road to DC event at Bears Ears, Utah. on July 17, 2021. (Wingspan Media)

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Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.