GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 149-6
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


OLSON, Hunter1, KEMPF, Hannah1, KEANE, Christopher1 and CARLSON, Sandra2, (1)American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302, (2)Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616

The United States' federal policies surrounding Native Americans’ rights to self-govern land and natural resources has a long, complicated, and often tragic history. Throughout time, U.S. policy makers’ ideologies surrounding this issue have changed and evolved. Because of this complicated history, scientists today are often unsure how to properly conduct research on Earth materials, particularly minerals and fossils, in Native American lands. Because of the unfortunate history of natural resource dispossession on Tribal lands, such as the theft of famous paleontological resources from Sioux territory, it is critical to summarize and make accessible the historical and contemporary policies surrounding this issue. Historians have defined six eras of federal Native American policy in the United States: Coexistence (1789-1828), Removal and Reservation (1829-1886), Assimilation (1887-1932), Reorganization (1932-1945), Termination (1946-1960), and Self-Determination (1961-present day). Each of these periods is categorized by a change in attitudes and policy regarding Tribal Nations sovereignty. Here, we summarize major legislation and court cases surrounding Native Americans’ rights (and restrictions) to self-govern land and resources throughout each era. We highlight the nuances and contradictions in legislation and court decisions. We also outline how reservation land is managed currently and the permissions needed to work on Tribal lands. Lastly, we argue that while progress has been made towards Tribal self-determination and sovereignty, gaps regarding the safeguarding of land and geological resources on Tribal lands still exist in contemporary federal policy.