Current and prospective students, activists, and legal experts explored how legal strategy and international human rights advocacy influences indigenous rights in the U.S. at Harvard Law School’s Indigenous Rights Movement conference last week. Kristen A. Carpenter, an Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at HLS, said the conference sought to give students access to conversations on federal Indian law, a subject for which Harvard has no permanent professor. “It seems important to really do a lot of programming when we’re lucky enough to be here teaching for a short time, and really make an impact on the community and the students’ educational opportunities, as well as to note particularly what’s going on in the present moment of advocacy around American Indian issues,” Carpenter said. Carpenter co-chaired the event with Robert T. Anderson, another Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law; Angela R. Riley, law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Lorie M. Graham, law professor at Suffolk University Law School.
September 26, 2016
An op-ed by Kristen A. Carpenter and Angela R. Riley. What sparks and sustains a movement? For more than a month, members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and thousands of allies have gathered in camps along the Missouri River in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. They are protesting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline which, if completed, would carry half a million gallons of crude oil per day ultimately to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.* More urgently for the protesters, the pipeline is slated to be built within a half mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, traveling across treaty-guaranteed lands, under the tribe’s main source of drinking water, and through sacred sites. As lawyers for the tribe have argued, “An oil spill at this site would constitute an existential threat to the Tribe’s culture and way of life.”...The recent judicial decision gives the federal government time to consider more carefully the risks that the pipeline will pose for humans, the water, and the environment. But it’s not enough. The United States has affirmative obligations, both legal and moral, to protect Indian water, land, culture, and religion.