This article explores indigenous peoples’ proactive responses to the deleterious impacts of climate change by deconstructing how native peoples claim and realize an indigenous right to environmental selfdetermination. Responses to climate change must be driven by native peoples’ choices. But those choices will inevitably entail interaction with state, local, or tribal agencies, private businesses, and nonindigenous residents. In large part, the local legal regime’s handling of natural resources and indigenous peoples’ claims will frame these interactions, particularly when such claims clash with western-imposed values and practices. That clash, even today, is nearly always about more than competing land or water uses. It is steeped in a history of conquest, confiscation, cultural suppression, betrayal, and halting reparative initiatives.
D. Kapua’ala Sproat is an Associate Professor of Law, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Manoa.