Mining that affects indigenous communities–because they own or govern targeted minerals or because they are culturally, economically and/or environmentally affected by the development of targeted minerals–is especially controversial. Indigenous people have borne a long history of exploitation of their resources without their consent and to their detriment. But times are changing. At least in the Lower 48 United States, tribes increasingly have the legal and institutional capacity to assert rights of local self-government that can make or break a mining project. It is fair to say that, in today’s environment, the tribe that wants to block minerals development on at least its own reservation, if not across its entire traditional territories, most likely can.
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. On ImprovIng TrIbal-Corporate Relations In The Mining Sector: A White Paper on Strategies for Both Sides of the Table. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. John F. Kennedy School of Government. Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. April 2014. Paper.