Navajo natural resources exploitation and economic dependency outcomes
Starzynski, Robert John
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This thesis is about the historical exploitation of natural resources on Navajo lands from which the benefits to date have inured in vastly disproportionate terms to non-Native American interests. Utilizing a broad variety of published sources, media outlets and documentary works, including those of contemporary scholars, reporters, and activists dedicated to providing input from the Native American perspective, my focus is to provide a narrative about economic theft of Navajo natural resources. In particular coal and nuclear which are non-renewable, as well as water which is renewable but very scarce in the American Southwest. Amidst all of the economic dependencies which have been foisted upon the Navajo there is hope for their greater economic autonomy with their peoples' own exploitation of renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind. In an international arena in which the protection and conservation of Mother Earth have rapidly risen to become among the top global priorities, the voices not only of the Navajo but also of indigenous people world-wide are of increasing relevance in the realms of research, teaching and policy-making. Leveraging on this relevance can provide a positive path away from economic dependency for the Navajo, particularly since they have the potential, and evident willingness as a Nation, of harnessing an abundance of renewable natural resources from within their lands for their own benefit, cultural sustenance, and long term growth.