Decolonizing Climate Justice: Indigenous Movements



Event Description


Kyle Powys Whyte
Kyle Powys Whyte

The Inuit Petition on human rights and climate change and the #NoDAPL movement against an oil pipeline are among recent Indigenous-led movements connected to climate justice. This seminar seeks to provide an overview of the many different Indigenous-led efforts to achieve climate justice, including engagements with climate science. Indigenous efforts have ranged from direct confrontations against extractive industries to policy work at international and national levels to knowledge networks seeking to reform climate science to innovations at the level of local practical planning processes designed to use traditional knowledge systems as strategies for adaptation and vulnerability assessment. Reflecting on these movements, Indigenous peoples are making contributions to how people understand climate justice. In particular, Indigenous peoples are shaping theories about the relationship between colonialism and vulnerability, offering broader conceptions of the value of Indigenous knowledges for supporting resilience, and expressing visions of the future that displace Eurocentric notions, especially the Anthropocene. The seminar will cover a history and wide range of practical examples of Indigenous climate justice movements from Kyle Whyte’s experiences and research. The seminar will also explore some of the more theoretical aspects of Indigenous contributions to climate justice relevant to people working in Indigenous studies, climate science, decolonial theory and research, and environmental studies.

Kyle Whyte (Potawatomi) holds the Timnick Chair in the Humanities at Michigan State University. He is associate professor of philosophy and community sustainability, a faculty member of the environmental philosophy & ethics graduate concentration, and a faculty affiliate of the American Indian studies and environmental science & policy programs. His primary research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate policy and Indigenous peoples and the ethics of cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and climate science organizations. This research has recently extended to cover issues related to food sovereignty and justice. Whyte has been part of numerous policy, coalition-building, and educational initiatives supporting Indigenous peoples’ capacities to address climate justice. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. More information on Whyte’s work can be found at

Program in American Studies