TPP Reports: Revisiting the Trail of Tears--Tribal Control and Environmental Justice

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In early October 2020, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt. The letter granted Stitt environmental regulatory control over all of the tribal lands in the state. 

Among other things, this gives Stitt the power to determine whether hazardous waste can be dumped on tribal lands, the ability to make decisions regarding whether and where fracking can take place, and the ability to determine if and where large-scale industrial animal agriculture, with all its attendant pollution, can operate in tribal jurisdictions.

This development is yet another chapter of a disturbing story. In the early to mid-19th century, tribes of indigenous people occupied ancestral lands in states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. 

These tribes were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee. 

It didn’t take long for some American whites to realize that the land populated by these tribes was valuable. 

Many members of the white population had aspirations to attain the land in order to grow cotton on it — cotton that would be picked by African slaves...

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