This time it’s different? The rush to mine Indigenous lands – by Mark Trahant (Alaska Beacon – July 13, 2023)


The Aspen Institute: The mining industry has a long history of failing to respect community interests, breaking agreements, destroying sacred sites, and forcing displacements; Indigenous communities have been ‘disproportionately impacted’

WASHINGTON – This won’t be an easy conversation: Can tribal nations love mining? Or at least accept mining as a necessary step in the creation of a clean economy? And can governments and international mining companies figure out how to respect and work fairly with Indigenous communities?

The conversation is weighted by history. The mining industry, and governments, have to sell the idea that, this time it’s different. This time the industry will respect cultural and religious sites. This time the industry will clean up its own mess. This time it will reward tribal communities as owners instead of serving up resources as colonies. Why would anyone believe that? Why should a tribe expect this time to be different?

“The question is how likely is it that we can hit a reset button, especially with the Indigenous populations because the history is not good,” said former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. “The history from the very beginning, beginning with colonization and leading to exploitation …

And when you find minerals, say step aside, and you look at the Black Hills. No one had any interest in the Black Hills until they found gold and literally violated the Laramie Treaty. And you know, people don’t wanna hear that, but that’s the truth. And so what, what about today, would tell anyone that it was gonna be different?”

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