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Environmental Justice issues for Indigenous NC Communities

Eight American Indian tribes inhabit North Carolina; the Lumbee, Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation, HaliwaSaponi, Coharie, Waccamaw-Siouan, Occaneechi, Meherrin and Sappony. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Fracking are two major impending environmental concerns for those communities. American Indians make up 1.2% of the total North Carolina population which creates a lack of representation when dealing with these concerns. Low income communities are usually targeted by large entities such as Duke Energy, and since the majority of these tribes are located in rural counties, that makes them a prime target.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation is the only federally recognized tribe; that means that they have their own reservation and are considered their own sovereign nation. They can also decide what businesses are allowed to operate on their lands.

NC tribes map

Image adapted from the NC Commission of Indian Affairs

The following are environmental injustices impacting each tribal affiliation:

  • Coharie: Fracking, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, large hog operations in Sampson County.
  • Eastern Band Cherokee: Possibility for Fracking.
  • Haliwa- Saponi: Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
  • Lumbee: Fracking, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Coal Ash, river contamination in Red Springs.
  • Meherrin: Enviva wood pellet industry and deforestation.
  • Occaneechi-Saponi: Petroleum contamination in private wells.
  • Waccamaw-Siouan: Possibility for Fracking.

Ericka FairclothEricka Faircloth is Clean Water for NC’s new Water & Energy Justice Organizer. Ericka will be attending the conference of the United Tribes of North Carolina this week. The United Tribes of North Carolina is a nonprofit corporation established in 1982 to provide greater coordination and unity among the Indian tribes and organizations of the state, to promote educational, economic, religious, charitable and cultural activities for Indian people, and to increase and to increase economic prosperity for Indians of North Carolina. Click here for the conference agenda.

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