The Importance of Native American Self-Governance

After completing most of my research, and formalizing my thoughts in a research proposal, I believe I can finally propose a working thesis. I believe the critical question in my topic, is how highly we should value Native American sovereignty, and relatedly, their right to self-governance. So far my research strongly suggests that it should be valued very highly. This allows for a working thesis: Native American sovereignty should be respected, by policymakers and regulators, by strongly considering Bristol Bay Native American opinion on Pebble.

This thesis might not sound very controversial, but in subtle ways it very much is. Firstly, Native American opinion is currently entirely ignored when it comes to regulatory and permitting decisions. Secondly, my thesis suggests that respecting Native American’s opinions could outweigh the enormous potential economic value of Pebble. While to some this might seem obvious, opinion on such a statement varies within our society. As well, it should be re-emphasized that the enormity of Pebble economic value makes it a tough argument to make.

I will begin by first elaborating on why my research has led me to value Native self-governance so highly. My argument here will take up most of the essay, as I feel as though this is the most crucial pillar in the argument. I will focus my essay on why respecting the Native right to self-governance is crucial in order for them to achieve the best possible outcomes moving forward.

I will spend the rest of the essay addressing key counterarguments. These will include counterarguments against the importance of Native American sovereignty, economic arguments in favor of Pebble, and more. I will use my previous research on ‘metrics’ in order to guide the discussion.

Lastly, I would like to point out that my working thesis is not an argument against the development of Pebble. Rather, it is an argument against the development of Pebble if Bristol Bay Native Americans are in opposition. I have chosen this specific working thesis because I believe it to be the cultural argument with the most potential. However, taking this line of argument seems to mean people (environmentalists) can’t have it both ways.

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