Stop Burying the Lede: The Essential Role of Indigenous Law(s) in Creating Rights of Nature

Erin O'Donnell, Anne Poelina, Alessandro Pelizzon, Cristy Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid emergence of rights of Nature over the past decade across multiple contexts has fostered increasing awareness, recognition, and, ultimately, acceptance of rights of Nature by the global community. Yet, too often, both scholarly publications and news articles bury the lede – namely, that the most transformative cases of rights of Nature have been consistently influenced and often actually led by Indigenous peoples. In this article we explore the ontologies of rights of Nature and earth jurisprudence, and the intersections of these movements with the leadership of Indigenous peoples in claiming and giving effect to their own rights (while acknowledging that not all Indigenous peoples support rights of Nature). Based on early observations, we discern an emerging trend of increased efficacy, longevity, and transformative potential being linked to a strongly pluralist approach of lawmaking and environmental management. A truly transformative and pluralist ecological jurisprudence can be achieved only by enabling, and empowering, Indigenous leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-427
Number of pages25
JournalTransnational Environmental Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020


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