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As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

The story of Native peoples’ resistance to environmental injustice and land incursions, and a call for environmentalists to learn from the Indigenous community’s rich history of activism.

Through the unique lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. As Long As Grass Grows gives readers an accessible history of Indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism and policy.

Throughout 2016, the Standing Rock protest put a national spotlight on Indigenous activists, but it also underscored how little Americans know about the longtime historical tensions between Native peoples and the mainstream environmental movement. Ultimately, she argues, modern environmentalists must look to the history of Indigenous resistance for wisdom and inspiration in our common fight for a just and sustainable future.

Reviews
“Highly recommended for American Indian studies and environmental justice students and scholars.” —Library Journal

“The process of genocide, which began five centuries ago with the colonization of the Americas and the extermination of indigenous people, has now spread to the planetary level, pushing two hundred species per day to extinction and threatening the entire human species. Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s As Long as Grass Grows makes these connections, holding the seeds of resistance, the seeds of freedom, and the promise of a future.” —Vandana Shiva, author of Earth Democracy

As Long as Grass Grows honors Indigenous voices powerfully and centers Indigenous histories, values, and experiences. It tells crucial stories, both inspiring and heartrending, that will transform how readers understand environmental justice. I know many readers will come away with new ideas and actions for how they can protect our planet from forces that seek to destroy some of our most sacred relationships connecting human and nonhuman worlds—relationships that offer some of the greatest possibilities for achieving sustainability.” —Kyle Powys White, associate professor, Michigan State University

“From Standing Rock’s stand against a damaging pipeline to antinuclear and climate change activism, Indigenous peoples have always been and remain in the vanguard of the struggle for environmental justice. As Long as Grass Grows could not be of more relevance in the twenty-first century. Gilio-Whitaker has produced a sweeping history of these peoples’ fight for our fragile planet, from colonization to the present moment. There is nothing else like it. Read and heed this book.” —Jace Weaver, author of Defending Mother Earth

“In As Long as Grass Grows, Gilio-Whitaker skillfully delineates the stakes—and the distinctive character—of environmental justice for Indigenous communities. Bold, extensive, accessible, and inspiring, this book is for anyone interested in Indigenous environmental politics and the unique forms of environmentalism that arise from Native communities. Indeed, as Gilio-Whitaker shows, these topics are intertwined with a pressing issue that concerns all people: justice for the very lands we collectively inhabit.” —Clint Carroll, author of Roots of Our Renewal

As Long as Grass Grows is a hallmark book of our time. By confronting climate change from an Indigenous perspective, not only does Gilio-Whitaker look at the history of Indigenous resistance to environmental colonization, but she points to a way forward beyond Western conceptions of environmental justice—toward decolonization as the only viable solution.” —Nick Estes, assistant professor, University of New Mexico, and author of Our History Is the Future

As Long as Grass Grows, in the way no other study has done, brilliantly connects historic and ongoing Native American resistance to US colonialism with the movement for environmental justice. This book helps teach us the central importance of Native theory and practice to transforming the radically imbalanced world that corporate capitalism has made into a world of balance through extended kinship with the social and natural environments on which human beings are dependent for life.” —Eric Cheyfitz, professor, Cornell University, and author of The Disinformation Age: The Collapse of Liberal Democracy in the United States

“This groundbreaking new book will ignite conversations about environmentalism and environmental justice. Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s beautifully written account of environmental politics compels readers to understand how Indigenous people and the nonhuman world are caught in the gears of settler colonialism—and how an indigenized environmental justice framework can powerfully reframe our debate and our relations to one another and to the natural world around us. As Long as Grass Grows is perfectly timed to offer a fresh and captivating take on some of our most urgent issues of environmental and social justice.” —Traci Voyles, author of Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country

Educator Information

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Author’s Note

INTRODUCTION
The Standing Rock Saga

CHAPTER ONE
Environmental Justice Theory and Its Limitations for Indigenous Peoples

CHAPTER TWO
Genocide by Any Other Name
A History of Indigenous Environmental Injustice

CHAPTER THREE
The Complicated Legacy of Western Expansion and the Industrial Revolution

CHAPTER FOUR
Food Is Medicine, Water Is Life
American Indian Health and the Environment

CHAPTER FIVE
(Not So) Strange Bedfellows
Indian Country’s Ambivalent Relationship with the Environmental Movement

CHAPTER SIX
Hearts Not on the Ground
Indigenous Women’s Leadership and More Cultural Clashes

CHAPTER SEVEN
Sacred Sites and Environmental Justice

CHAPTER EIGHT
Ways Forward for Environmental Justice in Indian Country

Acknowledgments
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Additional Information
224 pages | 6.23" x 9.26"

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