In this post:
- Two lakes, two streams, and a marsh take land developer to court
- Northern Cheyenne sues U.S. government for failing to provide adequate law enforcement service
- Land Acknowledgement Statements are meant to be disruptive
Two lakes, two streams and a marsh take land developer to court
Orange County, Florida passed a “Rights of Nature” Charter Amendment in 2020, and earlier this year the first case went to court, The Guardian reported.
The suit “claims a proposed 1,900-acre housing development by Beachline South Residential LLC would destroy more than 63 acres of wetlands and 33 acres of streams by filling and polluting them, as well as 18 acres of wetlands where stormwater detention ponds are being built,” it said.
(This is part of the boarder Rights of Nature movement. In Minnesota, the White Earth Nation passed a Rights of Manoomin (wild rice) law.)
Inside Climate News reported that the Orlando Charter Amendment passed with 89 percent of the vote. It granted county waterways the right to ‘exist, flow, to be protected against pollution and to maintain a healthy ecosystem,’” the story said.
Charles O’Neal, president of Speak Up Wekiva, filed the suit on behalf of “the Wilde Cypress Branch, Boggy Branch, Crosby Island Marsh, Lake Hart, Lake Mary Jane and other waters of Orange County,” The Hill reported.
“The plaintiff-waterways represented in this action deserve more than just their day in court – they need to have even their most basic right to exist protected. For too long our legislators have told the public we need balance between commerce and Nature, and then folded to pressure from commerce to permit egregious exploitation.”Charles O’Neal, as quoted in The Hill
Northern Cheyenne sue U.S. government for failing to provide adequate law enforcement
There are any number of ongoing disputes about whether the U.S. government is living up to its treaty promises and fiduciary duties to Native Nations.
I’d never heard this specific example before. On Tuesday, the Northern Cheyenne sued the U.S. government for failing “to provide competent and effective law enforcement and corrections services to the Tribe’s Reservation, despite the Tribe’s repeated demands that Defendants address the problem.”
Congress recognizes in multiple federal statutes “that ensuring adequate civil and criminal justice systems is part of the federal responsibility to tribes and their members,” the complaint said.
The Northern Cheyenne Tribe has approximately 11,521 members, with 5,000 living on the reservation.
However, the reservation covers 444,000 acres in southeastern Montana (almost 700 square miles). “Even when the patrol function is ‘fully staffed,’ there are usually only two patrol officers on duty at a time,” the complaint said.
The federal government is “(1) failing to maintain adequate staffing levels; (2) failing to respond to calls for service; (3) failing to investigate crimes; (4) failing to refer cases for prosecution; (5) failing to maintain adequate local and regional detention facilities; and (6) failing to provide adequate rehabilitative services,” it said.
(Read the 28-page complaint to see just how complicated law enforcement is in Indian Country.)
Land Acknowledgements are meant to be disruptive
More institutions are adopting Land Acknowledgement Statements to recognize and honor the Indigenous Peoples of a place as the original stewards who have a deep connection to the land.
These statements aren’t without controversy. Some call them “moral exhibitionism” or an “empty gesture.” At their best, they are a stepping stone to deeper reparative work between the dominant culture and Indigenous peoples.
I like the take from Natural Curiosity’s Facebook post that said: “Land acknowledgements are meant to be disruptive – to unsettle the settler colonial erasure of Indigenous presence on this land.”
The post quotes several Indigenous leaders who want to push the Land Acknowledgement envelope. Dr. Hayden King (Gchi’mnissing Anishinaabek) said such statements ought to carry obligations with them. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey, we’re on the territory of the Mississaugas or the Anishinaabek and the Haudenosaunee.’ It’s another thing to say ‘we’re on the territory of the Anishinaabek and the Haudenosaune and here’s what that compels me to do.‘”