Two works by Rebecca Tsosie have recently been published.
“Climate Change, Sustainability, and Globalization: Charting the Future of Indigenous Environmental Self-Determination,” published in a symposium issue of the Houston Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal, focuses on one important consequence of global climate change: the possibility that entire cultures and communities could be wiped out or forced to relocate. However, in the same way that policy-making cost-benefit analyses often ignore the claims of future generations, Rebecca argues that they also tend to ignore rights or duties related to the survival of indigenous communities. Accordingly, she explores reforms to nation-state and international governance structures to effectuate such interests, while noting that many traditional ethical constructs associated with native populations–seeking continuity over time, emphasizing preservation of heritage, focusing on stewardship of the earth, protecting the existence of future generations, and so on–should be core components of a contemporary system of environmental ethics.
Cultural heritage is also the topic of “Who Controls Native Cultural Heritage?: ‘Art,’ ‘Artifacts,’ and the Right to Cultural Survival,” a chapter in a new book, “Cultural Heritage Issues: The Legacy of Conquest, Colonization, and Commerce” (edited by James A.R. Nafziger & Ann M. Nicgorski). Here Rebecca observes that native peoples’ cultural claims are often viewed by the legal system as less cognizable than those that are at least sometimes protected under the rubrics of “religious freedom” or “cultural property.” According to Rebecca, this differential treatment stems in part from very different conceptions of ideas such as “art,” “culture,” “history,” and “discovery.” Thus, she argues for a more pluralist framework for understanding cultural claims, one that would see federal courts and tribal courts working in tandem to articulate and define the scope of cultural rights.