“Rights of nature” lawsuit filed in tribal court to protect wild rice from pipeline

A lawsuit filed in the White Earth Nation’s tribal court against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources seeks to defend the rights of wild rice and halt the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline running through the Midwest, Indian Country Today reports. It’s the latest in a series of international initiatives seeking to establish “rights of nature” or legal protections for the natural world. These efforts have had limited success so far, but as journalist Mary Annette Pember points out, the suit could get a boost from the United Nations’ recently released “Sixth Assessment on Climate Change.” According to the report, recognition of Indigenous governance systems is essential to mitigating the impacts of global warming. Legal experts say establishing the rights of wild rice in tribal court is a sound strategy, though the court does not have the authority to force the Department of Natural Resources to stop the pipeline. 

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