In This Episode
This week, Amy and Mary chat with Rebecca Nagle – an Indigenous journalist, host of This Land, and long-time friend of the show.. They dive into Brackeen v. Haaland – a Supreme Court case threatening Indian Law, why Indigenous issues are so under covered, Landback, and more.
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Mary Annaise Heglar [AD]
Amy Westervelt Hey, hot cakes. Welcome to Hot Take. I’m Amy Westervelt.
Mary Annaise Heglar And I’m Mary Annaise Heglar. This week, we’re going to be talking to an intrepid indigenous journalist, Rebecca Nagle.
Amy Westervelt Yes, a second timer. She’s a repeat guest. Rebecca has been working for the past few years, several years, really, to figure out what’s behind a whole bunch of cases that are targeting the Indian Child Welfare Act. I actually got a chance to work with her on that last year for her show, This Land. It’s super, super, super interesting and has a lot to do with tribal sovereignty more broadly, which has everything to do with climate. So we’re excited to talk to her about all of those intersections.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, this this week is going to be exciting because Amy and Rebecca know a ton about courts and climate, and I don’t. So it’s going to be them nerding out and me asking clarifying questions, which is one of my favorite things to do. So I’m excited. We also have some bittersweet news to share.
Amy Westervelt That’s true.
Mary Annaise Heglar Hot Take is coming to the end of its road. I guess you could say that the flame has gone out on a Hot Take. What do you think Amy? This is our last month. This is not our last episode. We’ve got two more coming out after this. And, you know, like I said, it’s bittersweet. But we’re both really proud of the work that we’ve done with this podcast and with the time we have left we will keep bringing you quality programing about climate and we’ll see where things go from there.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Right, Amy?
Amy Westervelt That’s right. That’s right.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. This is it. After the end of 2022. The flame will be extinguished. No, I’m just kidding.
Mary Annaise Heglar The flame will never be extinguished. Look, we’re not leaving the climate movement. We’re not leaving the planet. We’ll still be here. We just won’t be in your podcast feed like this. That’s right. That’s right. We are grateful for all of you who have supported us over the years of doing this podcast. And yeah, you’ll always be hot cakes to us.
Amy Westervelt It’s true. Hot cakes forever. All right. With that, I think it’s time, Mary.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, it’s time to talk about climate. All right. Rebecca Nagle, welcome back to Hot Take. We’re so glad to have you.
Rebecca Nagle Oh, thank you so much for having me.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, it’s been, what like two years since we had you on because it was, like, deep lock down.
Amy Westervelt That’s crazy.
Mary Annaise Heglar When you were on the first time.
Rebecca Nagle It’s been a minute. It’s been a minute. I know. And then when it’s COVID years, it’s like Lord knows how long that was.
Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. Exactly. So I imagine that much has happened in your world since the last time we talked.
Rebecca Nagle Mmmmmmm.
Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. That says a lot. That says a lot.
Amy Westervelt Oh, man. Yeah. We’re super excited to talk to you, Rebecca, because of all of this reporting that’s come out from you over the last couple of years about this big case that the Supreme Court breaking. So I wanted to I think actually, like, it’d be helpful because I think last time you were on, we didn’t get into this at all. So maybe it’d be helpful for you to lay some groundwork and just kind of talk us through what is the Indian Child Welfare Act and what what was this case about?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, absolutely. And it should be noted that all of the wonderful reporting was also done by Amy Westervelt. Yeah. So. Yeah, yeah. So we got to make the the podcast with Amy and critical frequency. And it was it was a dream team. It’s like the only like weekly work call that like once that was over I missed.
Amy Westervelt I know. That’s true.
Rebecca Nagle I still want to be on that conference call once a week. It’s like, never happened.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, it’s true. Yeah. Yeah, we did. We had such a. This was This Land season two and we had such an incredible team. It was an all women team and it was fucking awesome, I swear. I was like, Oh man, everybody should work on a project like this. It’s like.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt It’s the best way for me.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, yeah. So, yeah. Co-reported with Amy WESTERVELT and Maddie Stone and Martha Tran and just an amazing amazing, amazing, amazing group of people. Yeah. So the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 by Congress. At the time, in the late sixties, there had been this big national survey that found 25 to 35%. So about a third of all native children had been removed from their family and tribes. There are a couple of things going on. There was an actual literal federal program to remove native children and place them with white families called the Indian Adoption Project. But what was actually happening in higher numbers was that state agencies actually, after having spent decades refusing to provide any kind of social programs or social welfare to Native Americans, including just like Social Security, state child welfare agencies were removing Native kids at really, really high rates and for innocuous reasons, like being raised with a grandparent instead of by a biological parent. And so when it got passed, basically what it did is it does a bunch of different stuff to try and prevent those abuses from happening before. And so it’s interesting because in this litigation, these like really, really small aspects of the law are get harped on, but the law does a ton of different things. Like one of the things it does is if a native parent relinquishes their parental rights, it has to happen in front of a judge. It can’t be some kind of backroom lawyer deal where they just a native parent signed something and they don’t understand what they’re signing because that was happening. You know, if a child lives on the reservation, then the case actually goes to trial court and tribes have jurisdiction. So really the law, I think of it as like a set of guardrails to make it harder to separate native kids from their family and from their tribes. And in those proceedings, it beefs up the power and the rights of the native parents, the tribe and then really seeks to protect the native child.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mhm.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. I think the first time I ever talked to you about this was when this new law firm had just come on board taking all of these cases pro-bono. And I was like, what the law firm? And you were like, Gibson, Dunn, have you heard of them? And I went, Oh my God, my head is exploding because this is a law firm that, you know, represents a lot of the oil and gas industry. They also represent quite a few large casino clients. So all of a sudden, I think, you know, a lot of red flags were like, wait a minute, why is this huge corporate law firm getting involved in a case that would seem like it has absolutely nothing to do with them? What did we find, Rebecca? What?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So we found a couple of things. I mean, one is that Gibson, Dunn, as Amy, as you mentioned, is heavily involved in oil and gas. And they were actually. The the company that they represented, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline. And the other thing that’s noteworthy about Gibson Dunn, is that the lawyer that is representing the individual plaintiffs pro-bono has made the exact same arguments that he’s making in this case to undo the Indian Child Welfare Act here on behalf of non-native foster parents. He’s made those same legal arguments on behalf of non-native casino developers to attack Indian gaming. And so that is kind of like gloves off. Like really transparent. Like they’re literally porting the arguments and just swapping out kids for casinos.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, wow.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar That’s gross.
Amy Westervelt It’s really wild. It is gross. And also, I think it’s it’s very clever because family law cases are messy and people get really distracted by the details of, like, you know, what was going on with this family or that family and where should this child live. And, you know, all of these kinds of things. Right. Instead of understanding the basis of the arguments being made here and what the the broader impacts are, both on these kids in particular, but on kind of much larger issues, too. So what are the arguments that are being made?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. Yeah. So there’s like three big legal arguments being made in the case too, which I’ll focus on because those two are the scariest for tribal sovereignty and what people call federal Indian Law or Title 25. But it’s basically just the whole section of U.S. law that deals with the relationship between the U.S. federal government and tribal nations. And so the first argument that’s really scary for tribes is that the non-native foster parents argue that ICWA discriminated against, that basically they experience racial discrimination because according to ICWA, if a child can’t be reunified with their parents, ICWA sets out placement preferences of where that child should go next. So the first placement preference is actually just extended members of that child’s extended family. The second placement preference is other members of that child’s tribe. And then the third placement preference is any member of a federally recognized tribe. And so and that that third placement preference got a lot of air time in the oral arguments is just frustrating because it actually wasn’t used in any of these cases was actually extraordinary about the individual plaintiffs making this argument is that for the most part, when we actually investigated the underlying custody cases, not only did these foster parents win custody, but they won custody actually over blood relatives that at the time also really wanted to raise the children. But nonetheless, they argue that they.
Amy Westervelt The opposite of being discriminated against in fact.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. Quite the opposite. I mean, I would argue that that’s like another reason that the family law angle has been very convenient, is that it’s easy to obscure the underlying facts of the custody cases because those cases are sealed. And so it’s really hard to track down what actually happened but we didn’t know. And ICWA’s very opposite.
Amy Westervelt And very often it’s not the story they’re telling in court. Surprise surprise.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. Yeah. Shockingly.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. And so that argument is scary because a bunch of court decisions have said that Native Americans, when you’re talking about, you know, there is a racial group of Native folks in the U.S. but when you’re talking about tribes and tribal citizens, that’s not a racial group. That’s a political group. And it includes some folks who do have native ancestry. It actually also includes some people who don’t have native ancestry. And it’s not about race. It’s about that tribe’s sovereign relationship to the U.S. federal government and then its inherent right to govern itself and set citizenship and all that stuff. And so a whole host of laws apply only to federally recognized tribes and our citizens, from gaming to health care, environmental laws like all sorts of stuff. And so the theory is, is that it’s ICWA is racial discrimination. Well, then what about Indian health services? If it is discrimination, what about gaming regulations that allow tribes to operate casinos where non-native casino developers can’t? What racial group, quote unquote racial group in the United States has their own land, has their own water rights, has their own environmental regulations, their own government, their own police force. It’s like. Etc.. And so if the Supreme Court ruled on those grounds, it could be like a bomb going off in the arena of federal Indian law. The second big argument that they’re making is that they’re trying to say that Congress they’re making like a article, one argument, basically saying that Congress doesn’t have the authority to pass this type of law in the first place, that this is just Congress stepping out of out of its bounds. And so one of the people or entities suing the federal government is the state of Texas. And so it’s basically like a classic states rights argument of like, you can’t tell us what to do. But what’s unique about federal Indian law is, is that Congress actually has a lot of authority when it comes to tribes. It’s actually called plenary authority, which is like a really fancy legal tude term for saying like a fuck ton. You know it’s like basically Congress gets to do what it wants, you know, and and so what they’re trying to do is, like, seek to limit that and say, like, no, Congress can only legislate around tribes, around like these, like very specific things. And so, again, it’s just like another way to chip away at laws that Congress has passed that govern tribal sovereignty.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I want to go back to what you’re saying about racial category versus a political category. Can you talk a little bit more about what those distinctions are and how does blood quantum play into all of this?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, absolutely. And so the way that blood quantum factors in actually depends like 100% on that tribe. So blood quantum was something that was imposed on tribes really through the termination era. So there is this period of time where Congress is trying to get rid of tribes. And there was this idea that if like if they imposed blood quantum on tribe, like eventually people like tribes would just vanish because people would have the requisite blood quantum. Fast forward to today, you know, I don’t know what percentage it is, but like some some tribes, plenty of tribes still have blood quantum. And it can be a way to measure how close people are so connected to their families and their culture or their lands. And a lot of tribes don’t have any blood quantum at all. And it’s just 100% up to that tribe. And usually, like blood, quantum is not the only citizenship requirement, even when for the tribes that do have blood quantum, there’s usually often other criteria and it’s one of many. And so, yeah, so tribal citizenship is like any other government, tribes decide who is eligible for citizenship and who is not. And so all of the laws that flow from Congress to that apply to federally recognized tribes and their citizens. Yeah. Flow, flow through that citizenship and so, and that kind of one way, like because people don’t understand how blood quantum works, then it’s this kind of like hot button thing. They really try to manipulate it. Like one of the legal arguments that they make is that ancestry is like a proxy for race because a lot of times tribes feel like if your if you if you can trace back to an ancestor at a certain time, you are usually like you enroll through your parents, which is like, you know, it’s like if your, your parents are like expats living in France, like that’s how you’re also a citizen of the U.S. You know, like it’s like a lot of like, yeah, so they’re trying to say and then people just try an either like in these cases talk about like if the kids are higher blood quantum, they make like a whole big thing about how the tribe requires blood quantum. So obviously this is race. And then if the children involved in the cases are low blood quantum, they also try to make a lot of hay out of that and like imply that it’s like ridiculous that this law would apply to a child with such low blood quantum. So they really try to have it both ways in the way that blood quantum comes up in these cases.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm.
Amy Westervelt Hmm. It’s so it’s so interesting and scary. So, Rebecca, you were actually at the Supreme Court for four arguments in this case, right? You you went in person?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt How was it?
Rebecca Nagle It was it was a really intense day. It was it was an intense and it was a long day. There were a ton of tribal leaders there that was like it was neat to see, like everyone who had come and kind of talk to people and see why people came. So it was a lot of people who actually I work with across a lot of people who are, you know, the equity coordinator for their tribe or work family law in some capacity. A lot of native lawyers. A lot of tribal leaders. Whether, you know, chiefs or chair people or council members. I met some native foster adults who had been in foster care to youth. So people and adoptees. A lot of people were there for personal reasons to and so that was really interesting to see everybody who came out to support equa I mean the actual oral arguments. I mean I think there we it was better. It was better than the last time ICWA went in front of the Supreme Court. There was an ICWA case in 2013, and the oral arguments in that case were an absolute dumpster fire. And so this case, you know, you had four justices who clearly knew the law and were really pushing really hard on Mr. McGill, the lawyer for the individual plaintiffs and the solicitor general of Texas, and also, like kind of catching them in these like hilarious moments, like I think it was Kagan. There was like one moment where Kagan basically got Texas to admit that, like a lot of the information and their their briefs were like legally irrelevant. And he was like, well, yeah, that stuff is just atmosphere. There are like moments like that. But we’re like, okay, yes, there are justices that are like very much calling out the bullshit. And I would say that that was like Gorsuch, Sotomayor, Kagan and Jackson, but that’s only four, right? And so then on the other side, Alito and Kavanaugh were making comments that to me were like very dog whistley. Like Kavanaugh asked, like more than once, a question around like, well, could we pass a law that only like white people could adopt white children, only Asian people could adopt Asian children. Alito made this insane comment that that like somehow like it was like implying that Europeans, like, brought peace when they colonized this continent. But he was talking about how before Europeans arrived, all the indigenous nations were at war with each other. And I was like, I don’t. Like huh?
Mary Annaise Heglar I have so many questions and I’m afraid of all of the answers.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle So it was a mixed. it was a mixed bag. And I would say that Barrett, I think I think Amy Coney Barrett is the swing vote.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm. That’s terrifying, no?
Amy Westervelt But that’s really interesting, because she’s also I mean, to me, I’ve every time I look at this case, I’m like Amy Coney Barrett is Jennifer Breck. Like.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt She’s a white, she’s not evangelical, she’s Catholic, but otherwise she’s a white, very religious woman who, you know, in many ways sees adoption as like the thing you should be doing if you’re like a believer who thinks that abortion is murder and all of those kinds of things. So I just feel like it’d be so hard for her not to see herself in this case.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I actually feel like maybe we haven’t spelt that out a lot that a lot of the parents that we’re talking about here believe that adoption is how you get into heaven. More kids you adopt, the more likely you are to go to heaven.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, yeah. That’s definitely the position of Jennifer and Chad Breckin. So there’s three couples, two of the couples couldn’t have children on their own. And so I think we’re are were also well I don’t know if the Librettis are Christian, the Clifford’s are were definitely Christian. I don’t think we ever really saw anything about the Librettis being Christian on their social or anything. But the Clifford’s are very Christian. And so but I think they have kind of like a clear motivation of not being able to have children and like wanting to have a family and like other like there just aren’t children available for adoption. So you would think that like if you just wanted to adopt a baby and you don’t want to go through the heartbreak of like fostering a child and not being able to adopt them, that you wouldn’t sign up for that. But I think that people are still signing up for that because those traditional paths to adoption have closed because there’s just not enough kids. And so, I mean, I think one of the most shocking things I found, which is funny because it’s like it doesn’t take that much digging. It’s like right there on the surface. But all these private adoption agencies are sending their clients to foster care and telling them and even like helping license them to be foster parents.
Amy Westervelt To give the pathway to adoption.
Rebecca Nagle Mhm. Mhm.
Mary Annaise Heglar But I, I mean I don’t know all the numbers but I hear all the time that there’s like a surplus of black children that nobody wants to adopt.
Rebecca Nagle So that’s what’s really fucking cruel about it is that and actually what’s kind of doubly cruel because one of he’s not involved any more because now he’s on the Arizona State Supreme Court. But one of the guys who is really instrumental in getting all this anti-ICWA litigation off the ground is a guy named Clint Bullock. And back in the nineties, like his the mantle he took up was that some like I think it was mostly led by black social workers were starting to try and create like local policy. There wasn’t a national policy, but like local policies around prioritizing placing black children with black families. And Bullock was like, this means like black children are languishing in the system. And so this law came out of his whole effort. I mean, he obviously wasn’t the only one who pushed for it, but he was one of the big people in the nineties called the Multiethnic Placement Act so you can’t do that for black children. And the law that made it easier for white people to adopt black children didn’t help black children not spend longer time in foster care from the research that we looked at. And then all those people who had been so concerned about the fate of black children in foster care, of course, had like moved on because it wasn’t about the children ever. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, I think that that’s like one of the things that’s very cruel about foster care is like when you look at removal rates, extremely disproportionate for black children and for native children. So black and native children are way more likely to be removed from their families than white children. I think actually there’s some data that native children have, like a little like actually better outcomes. Like Native kids are more likely to be placed with family. They’re less likely to age out of the system. They’re less likely to end up in a group home. So like some of those things where it’s like, you know, you really don’t want that to happen with foster kids.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.
Rebecca Nagle But, yeah I mean, like one study and it’s been a while since I looked at this research, but one study found was talking about how, like, you know, compared to white children, black children in foster care when they’re referred for like therapy or like services, they’re like less likely to get those services. And so it’s like. I mean, there’s just like it’s just like racism in and out. Like the system is just so it’s so bias in the in who who’s being investigated by CPS, what kids are getting taken. But then also like what kids are like getting services and getting their needs met once they’re in the system. And then what kids are getting kind of just pushed to the side.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.
Amy Westervelt You know what was, like, so gross and shocking to me in in this story, Rebecca, was when you shared those, like the emails from adoption agencies where they would send out emails of like the kids that were available, you know, of a particular week or month or whatever. And they would describe the complexion of the kids.
Mary Annaise Heglar Oooohhh.
Amy Westervelt So they would say. Yeah,.
Rebecca Nagle Of the parents.
Amy Westervelt Fucking. GROSS.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Of the parent?
Rebecca Nagle The race.
Amy Westervelt That’s right.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. So they would say like the race of the parents were and then.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle So they all like every, every, every email. If you were an adoptive parent and you are thinking about adopting a baby, like you have very little information like these emails do not include that much information, but they all list the race of both parents. A lot of times the race was in the subject line of the email, and then in one we saw one agency that sends out like the complexion of both parents. And so really like one of the other big things that’s happened in adoption is that before there was like access to abortion and the pill and stuff, a lot of white babies were placed for adoption and that was what white families desired. And then since women have had access to reproductive rights and, you know, like it’s more okay to have a baby out of wedlock and like all that kind of stuff. There’s been this like first adoption agencies went abroad and it was like, you know, China or South Korea or Ethiopia. And now that and then international adoption got shut down after a ton of scandals. And now that the same agencies have turned to foster care, to find children, to adopt. And so, yeah, I mean, I think that it’s funny because people want to talk about like adoption as this like, well, I would adopt a child of like any race and like race isn’t part of it, but it’s like when you look at the data, it’s absolutely part of it. Like the overwhelming majority of people who adopt in the US are white and the majority of people who are adopted are people of color.
Mary Annaise Heglar Hmm.
Amy Westervelt And age plays into it a lot, too, right? Like most people are looking for a newborn or at least a baby under the age of one.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. Yeah. And that’s one thing, too, that I think is, you know, like there are amazing foster parents out there who are doing, like, really, really, you know, like, I don’t mean to disparage folks who are, like, opening their home to, like, children in crisis, but I think what. Is problematic about, you know, foster care not being used as a way to keep children safe, but being used as a way to find prospective adoptive parents adoptive children is that there’s like a real mismatch in the type of children that people are looking to adopt and the children in foster care. And the same thing happened during international adoption, you know, when there were scandals around children being taken through coercion or unethical and even illegal practices. There were children who were like ill or had disabilities or who were older, who are still waiting to be adopted. And you can kind of see the same thing starting to happen and the kind of foster to adopt system.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm. Can you say a little bit more about what kids or people want to adopt and which ones they don’t? Just to, like, make it super clear.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. So, you know, just trying to use the data, the children that wait longer to be adopted are children who are older, sibling groups. So like if there’s like two or three children that are trying to stay together, children with disabilities, children with illnesses, children with trauma histories. Yeah. And so age is a big factor in it, too.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm. Mm hmm. So considering that the custody has already been settled in this case and there’s no changes of outcome at stake, why would the court even take this case? And who do you think is set to benefit from the legal and political strategy if this succeeds? Big questions here.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. No. That’s those are really important questions. I mean, so that’s like one of the big questions about this case is like, why is the Supreme Court even hearing it? Because exactly like what you said, like normally in a lawsuit, you want, you know, what people call a controversy or like harm and redress ability. There’s like all of these things, but usually like the rules of civil procedure are like if you’re suing the federal government to overturn a law, like you have to be harmed. And then the outcome of the lawsuit has to fix that harm. But here everything is said and done. All of the underlying custody cases have been settled. There’s one case that’s ongoing, but it’s not legally part of the lawsuit because the kid was actually born after the lawsuit was filed and amended. And so, yeah, that’s that’s a huge question of like, how do these plaintiffs have standing if for the most part they got what they wanted and even in the one case where they didn’t get what they wanted, that adoption has long been finalized. And so getting declared unconstitutional doesn’t help that couple. But Clifford’s out at all. Yeah. And I think that that’s like I um.
Amy Westervelt Sorry, just to interject here. And they have already adopted other kids, right? So.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We found that on their Instagram. Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar On their Instagram?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Yes.
Rebecca Nagle They adopted twin. They adopted twin boys I think from Columbia. So.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, Colombia.
Rebecca Nagle They weren’t able to adopt child P, they adopted babies from abroad.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt But but still kept up this fight.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. Still, yeah. Yeah I know. And that’s, I mean, that’s also it’s yeah, it’s, it’s just incredible that, that the lawsuit is still going on. And I think really, you know, I think it gets underreported. I mean, you guys are you guys cover this stuff and talk about it. But I mean, it really is just the route that it took to the Supreme Court is a big part of the story of why it’s still chugging along. So the breaking with in the northern district of Texas and there’s this like super, super conservative kind of activist judge in that district that basically when the Texas solicitor general asked him to declare a law or a federal statute or an executive order unconstitutional, he’s like, here you go. Okay. You know, like basically that’s like even The Wall Street Journal has accused Judge Reid O’Connor of going too far, like he’s that far out. And so they filed in his court. He kind of like gave one of those rubber stamp opinions. And then it was appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which is obviously like one of the more if not the most conservative circuit court. It actually the law was upheld with a three panel judge, but then it heard on bonk. And so that’s kind of how it wound up at the Supreme Court. And that’s the same path that like all these lawsuits that we hear about are taking, you know, the student loan path, like all of these lawsuits. And so it’s really been you shopping is a big part of why this lawsuit got to where it was because other courts would have asked those questions that you’re asking is, do these plaintiffs even have standing? And what we saw the Fifth Circuit do is they they actually answered that question with information that was wrong. And so an adoption that had actually been finalized, they claimed, was still ongoing. And so yeah. So misinformation and the new shopping is yeah. Of how this lawsuit is still going on.
Amy Westervelt And big corporate law firms making friends with attorneys general.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah yeah. Do you want to talk about that some, Amy?
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Because I feel like you’ve done a ton of reporting on RAGA.
Amy Westervelt Oh man. They’re worst.
Mary Annaise Heglar They’re her favorite people.
Amy Westervelt We’ve talked about it.
Mary Annaise Heglar But but but I have to say but let’s rag on RAGA after the ad break.
Amy Westervelt [AD]
Amy Westervelt Okay. Okay. So Raga is the Republican Attorneys General Association. They are a very powerful political force in the country. I feel like we can never talk too much about them because they’re the recipient of lots of money from different industries and companies. And in many cases, these are industries and companies that really attorneys general in any state who are supposed to be nonpartisan, by the way, are supposed to be regulating. Right? They’re supposed to be regulating these corporations and industries and applying the laws of the state to them. But what they often do instead is just coordinate lawsuits on their behalf. And Texas is the worst on it. I mean, Texas is sort of like a real lynchpin of this strategy because pretty much anything that the sort of pro-corporate forces on the right want to see happen in the courts, they can take to Ken Paxton and he will file some kind of a constitutional case in this case. Ken Paxton’s office was showing up in family court in Tarrant County, Texas, which is wild. You know, like the idea I think we talked about it in the podcast, too, that like this this would be like if you were getting a divorce and the attorney general showed up on your your spouse’s side in court like that. But then that’s like how weird it is, you know, for this to be happening. But they were there right from the beginning. They tried to get other states involved. They weren’t super successful, actually, which is interesting. But still, you know, they managed to to really kind of set this case on a path to the Supreme Court, which is kind of what Raga does in general. And yeah, it’s wild. It’s really wild. But Rebecca, can you talk about like what are some of the the the various groups and people that would benefit by equa being overturned?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, absolutely. And I was I was just going to add, the other thing that we found in our reporting was that it was actually the lawyer from Gibson Dunn that let the attorney general’s office know about the case. And so and then when you look at Gibson Dunn in their Texas offices, the staff between the attorney general’s office and the Gibson Dunn, Dallas and Houston offices is basically like a revolving door. And so we see like the way that, you know, it’s all it’s like it’s all just like the same people. And so there’s this very cozy, cozy relationship that this corporate law firm has with the AG’s office and got them involved in this case. But.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle I mean, so the people that stand to benefit are the folks who come up against tribes, you know, and are litigating issues with tribes. And the two industries that come up against tribes a lot are, you know, the gaming industry. So tribes tribal casino revenues represent about half of all gaming revenues in the United States. The big, big market figure, which is actually limited tribal casinos and gave states more power. But people like to say that it did the opposite. But under certain federal rules, states basically states want a slice of tribal gaming revenues. They can compact with tribes. And often in exchange, the states don’t allow other types of gaming to happen in those states. And so there are big markets that non-native big areas of the country where non-native casino developers can’t build casinos. And that’s really what their. Gibson Dunn filed the case in January arguing that those are the laws that are like that in the state of Washington are unconstitutional for the exact same reason that it is unconstitutional. So maverick gaming Gibson Dunn’s casino client in that case and arguably their other casino clients would directly benefit. And then the other big industry that comes up against tribes a lot is oil. And I think that that is a little bit less of like an A to B, you know, like gaming. But I think one thing I’ve learned and Amy, like, obviously you’ve got my decades more of reporting on this than I do where like sometimes I have like, like the oil industry has been really like just going hard against tribes here in Oklahoma and our affirmed reservation status and. I’m just like, why? Like, we actually don’t really have any regulatory authority for like a bajillion reasons. But I think the oil industry is afraid of possible regulations or a future where something might happen. And so I think it’s preempting like preempting the possibility that tribes could regulate oil. At least I think that’s what’s happening in Oklahoma.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt That’s so interesting. Well, and also, you know, definitely will gas companies have come up against tribes when it comes to protest. They I think they really see tribes as a big threat. And in general, you know, like the the Standing Rock protests really catalyzed a whole new wave of resistance against the oil and gas industry that that had kind of died off before that.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt That action, you know. So that prompted the passage of all of these anti-protest, you know, quote unquote, criminal or critical infrastructure protection laws.
Mary Annaise Heglar I think you had it right the first time, actually. Criminal.
Amy Westervelt Exactly. But like the the the guy in Oklahoma who first introduced that law, he straight up said in you know, in the hearing for it that like, look what happened at Standing Rock. We don’t want that happening here. Yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Yeah. So I think. Yeah. I don’t know.
Mary Annaise Heglar I actually think that’s a good point. To take it a step back, though, in some ways, I think it’s really fitting that our last guest for a hot take is an Indigenous journalist because the major news organizations really do a terrible job at covering native communities. And also, you know, the climate crisis starts with indigenous genocide and and colonialism. So I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about why do you think major news organizations do such a poor job at covering native communities? And what could they be doing better if you just had like we we have exactly 3 hours for this question alone.
Rebecca Nagle That’s enough. I can I can. I can I can squeeze it into three. Okay. Oh, gosh. I think it’s a lot of issues. Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s like this is my bone.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle This is my bone. I, I mean, I think that, um, I think that anti-indigenous racism functions through erasure. And so I think that native people are systematically erased from the news, from pop culture. Just any time you’re consuming any kind of media, whether or not it’s news media, you rarely, rarely, rarely see Native people. And then even more rarely you see like accurate and respectful portrayals. And so I think that it’s bigger than any one outlet or any one paper. I think it’s national and it’s systemic. But that doesn’t mean that outlets are off the hook. Right. You know, and so I think that we I think what a lot of outlets have done is that they look at it as like a diversity problem and that they need to work on their diversity. And I think that that’s the wrong approach and why very few of them have improved their coverage at all and still have coverage. That’s just really awful. And I think that people need to approach it like it’s a journalism problem because it is.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah
Rebecca Nagle You know.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle It’s a journalism problem. Like there was a story from The New York Times. This writer named Jan Hoffman has written about the Brackeen case, I think like three feature length articles. So yeah. And her last article was bonkers. Like, she, um, she reported as if, like, Amy, you’ll appreciate that, that like the Queens just won custody of Ala because the Navajo family changed their minds.
Amy Westervelt Oh my god.
Rebecca Nagle And I think what we found in our reporting was that they went into family court with a giant corporate law firm and a view of their state. And then they won custody, which is like. Right. You know, they showed up at the legal arts and all like, it’s just it’s so gross. And then, yeah, that article had so many problems with it. Like, she listed this, like, right wing group who’s like the founders, like previous organizing work has been labeled like and kind of just hate like as alongside like she like listed the groups who support equality and then the groups who don’t. And she listed this like extreme right wing group, like on the opposite side of like the American Medical Association.
Amy Westervelt Oh my god.
Rebecca Nagle And it’s like one if like right wing extremists like hate groups should not be getting like namechecked in the New York Times and also like these are not two sides of the same coin. Like, what are you doing? And so and that’s just like happened over and over, like the Washington Post reported that we had this case in Oklahoma where like our reservations were affirmed in criminal jurisdiction over some of the crimes in the state shifted from the state to either tribes or the federal government. And the governor was running around saying that 76,000 passed convictions would be overturned. And Robert Barnes, who’s the Supreme Court correspondent for The Washington Post, like, put that number in an article. At the time, it was like three times the total prison population in the state, and it was 64 times the native prison population from the counties impacted by the decision. And those were like two numbers that were like very easy to find. And like we said, so like in the because the Oklahoma we asked the governor’s office, we were like, where did you get those numbers? And they’re like, Oh, we got them from district attorneys. And so we just sent like an open records request to the district attorneys to be like, Hey, where’d you get these numbers? And the district attorney’s who got back to us were like, We did it. Ever send the governor any numbers? Like, we don’t we don’t know what you’re talking about. And so it appears that the governor had fabricated that number. And so it’s just like that’s like not a diversity problem. That’s like you’re not doing your fucking job. You know, like, like if a public official gives you data and you do a quick like reality check, like, does this data make sense given the context? No. Okay. Well, where it come from and like, you know, it takes some legwork, but it’s not that much. And so I just think that it’s like I think it’s a journalism problem where like outlets like none no national outlet, no national outlet is like meeting the standards of journalism when it comes to their coverage of indigenous communities. It’s not timely. It’s not reported by people who like know the material and have a knowledge base. It’s rarely put into a proper context. Oftentimes that coverage is missing. So like all these outlets where like we have our person that’s been covering health and is like this expert and have, you know, like how they all like I think it was like how the New York Times like brags about their reporters expertize and how long they’ve been quiet like you know covering blah blah blah.
Mary Annaise Heglar God. Ad nauseam.
Rebecca Nagle They just yeah. It’s like they don’t have that person. It’s like the dude that lives in Colorado. Okay. You know. We’ll get him to write about native people. Like it just seems like they don’t have that person. They don’t have that. They haven’t invested resources, they haven’t invested any resources into our community. And they also don’t listen when native journalists give feedback. So they’ve just shown over and over again that they’re not interested in having adequate coverage and and having accurate coverage. And that’s kind of where we’re I mean, The New York Times like and the Native American Journalists Association are actually in this like kind of weird standoff right now that, again, no one’s covering like you would think that if like a professional journalists association had like with in such a bad place with a national outlet, it would be talked about more, but it’s like, like really like the outlets that have covered it have been from Canada, you know.
Amy Westervelt Didn’t they didn’t they like uninvite the New York Times from their conference.
Rebecca Nagle And then the New York Times asked for their like $55 registration fee back.
Amy Westervelt What? No!
Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my God, that’s such a bitch move.
Amy Westervelt Wow.
Mary Annaise Heglar That is such a bitch move.
Rebecca Nagle It was so bad. It’s so bad.
Amy Westervelt Wow
Rebecca Nagle And it was after like NAJA like did this giant study of like basically just like looking at how much racist stereotypes of indigenous people showed up in New York Times coverage and they did this huge study of like years of their coverage and showed that racist stereotypes were showing up in most of the coverage. And again, The New York Times like didn’t do anything like literally didn’t like do anything to change that. And so. It’s just it’s unprofessional. It’s not a diversity problem. It’s a journalism problem. You know, it’s just not you know, it’s not meeting the basic standards of journalism around timely, accurate.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. I know. I’ve heard you say this before, and I think it’s very, very true. Not that I think all readers and listeners should care about indigenous issues, regardless of the fact that it will definitely also affect them at some point. But it will also affect them like I you know, I’ve heard you say that Indigenous issues are like the canary in the coal mine. And, you know, when when the government starts to fuck with Indigenous rights like they’re coming for years next, can you unpack that a little bit more and kind of walk people through why like, yes, this is your issue too, whether you are an enrolled member of a federal tribe or not.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t even say like the Supreme Court. You know, I think a lot of people are having this wake up moment of being alarmed by the power grab that is going on with the Supreme Court right now and how far this court is willing to go. And that’s the reality that Native people have been living with since the seventies, you know, really since the late seventies. If the Supreme Court doesn’t like where the law and the Constitution gets them, and in federal Indian law case, they just make shit up. And and so I think even like the moment that people are having realizing like, oh, like the federal judiciary has a lot of power and actually power to change policy in a way that we maybe wouldn’t have thought the court had policy to change. Like we would have thought the court had this much power maybe 50 years ago or 100 years ago. And so I think that’s absolutely a warning. And then to I mean, I just think that there’s this great legal scholar named Maggie Blackhawk who talks about how we really need to think about colonialism as a constitutional problem, that it’s like colonialism. It’s like it’s very baked into our constitution. Yes. And we need to think about that. And you can see her scholarship on this topic is great, that you can see all these ways that that area of law created to dispossess indigenous people and to limit the human rights of indigenous people has been used against other people at what she calls the margins of American empire. So like enemy combatants in the war on terror or separating families at the border, like these ideas of these people who are absolutely impacted by the American colonial system, you know, people who live in Guam or Puerto Rico but aren’t given full citizenship, that is an area of law that the U.S. really created through the acquisition of indigenous people’s lands, you know. And so, yeah, there’s so much there’s so much. And and I would really say, too, like, I think that this case, you know, it’s probably not going to get as much press attention as a lot of other cases this term. But it really should. I mean, it’s such a test for the Supreme Court in kind of every way that you could test the court. I mean, how wedded is the court to the Constitution? How wedded is the court to its own precedent? How wedded is the court also just to like really basic things like the truth and facts and also, you know, and even just like the rules of civil procedure, you know, that whole conversation we had about standing like, you know, it’s like they, there are all these cases now where you’re like, wait a minute. Like the lady who says she can’t make websites for gay people actually has never made a wedding website before. So this is all like a hypothetical. Like it just like.
Amy Westervelt Right!
Rebecca Nagle We keep taking these cases that where the harm that’s eroding protections for another group of people, the harm that the person bringing the plaintiff experienced they didn’t actually experience.
Amy Westervelt Right. Right.
Rebecca Nagle So, you know.
Mary Annaise Heglar I didn’t know you could go to court for stuff like that.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, well you shouldn’t be able to.
Rebecca Nagle Some people would say you are not supposed to.
Mary Annaise Heglar But clearly you can.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar I mean do you think I could get away with it? I’m black.
Amy Westervelt No. No, Mary, I’m just kidding *laughs*.
Rebecca Nagle Just bootstraps. Just bootstraps
Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, I’m just saying I got some people I would like to legally fuck with.
Amy Westervelt Oh man
Rebecca Nagle That’s whats so, yeah, but and this is in that line of cases too of. Yeah, yeah. Anyways
Amy Westervelt I think, I think it’s important too to note that like that doesn’t happen on accident either, right? Like in addition to venue shopping, these entities that we’re talking about that kind of construct, these cases, they go looking for the perfect plaintiffs too right. They go looking for someone who can be the lead plaintiff that they can build this whole case around. Like the plaintiffs don’t come looking for them. It’s the other way around, you know. So you have not only like the Texas attorney general and Gibson Dunn, but also all of these big right wing organizations like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation and the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Bradley Foundation and the Goldwater Institute. This whole network of right wing funded think tanks that really have a legal activism strategy and go looking for people and cases that they can bring that will let them challenge some part of the Constitution that they want to challenge. They’re not like real cases.
Mary Annaise Heglar Hmm. Yeah.
Amy Westervelt It’s gross.
Mary Annaise Heglar Very much so. Well, there’s still more to talk about because we really want to get into land back and what that really means. And we will do that after we pay a couple of bills.
Amy Westervelt [AD].
Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. So super basic first question, Rebecca. What is landback? Can you just spell it out for our listeners?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. I mean, oh, it’s a lot of things. It’s a hashtag, it’s a rallying cry. It’s a movement, it’s a slogan.
Mary Annaise Heglar It’s a tattoo.
Rebecca Nagle It’s a tattoo. Um, I’m not a I haven’t, like, fact checked this personally, but I’ve asked a few people and I think it, I think it was started by Indigenous youth actually in Canada and then it started to really spread. I think I started seeing it, oh gosh, covered birds, everything. But I think it was like 2019 or 2020 where I really started to see a lot of people using it. And so.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I think that’s about right. I think I start seeing it around that time too.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. And so, I mean, I think there are, um, property owners who are thinking about returning land to indigenous nations and working on that. I think that amount of land that’s actually that’s happened with is very small, but I think it is like important, you know, there’s other, like bigger federal policies. So, um, there’s, yeah. And so I think, you know, like we had our, the Supreme Court decision that affirmed our reservation. And so that was about 19 million acres here in the state of Oklahoma that had not been considered tribal land or Indian Country. That since 2020 and 2021 has been affirmed by a Supreme Court case and then subsequent decisions. And yeah, so I think I think we need to work on actual land there. There was a great piece in The Atlantic by David Troyer about the idea of that the national parks should be returned to native nations and that maybe native nations should actually be the ones stewarding public lands. And the, um, I know under the Biden administration there’s been like more consultation and stuff, but it’s not quite just like handing it over.
Amy Westervelt Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Well, there’s also. Oh sorry go ahead.
Rebecca Nagle Oh, go ahead.
Mary Annaise Heglar I was just going to mention Deb Haaland at the Department of the Interior as well. I would think that would have something to do with more conversations, right?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And she’s done stuff like there was a lot of place names in the U.S. that were using like an old racial slur for indigenous women. And she spearheaded renaming all, you know, the lake and the valley and the whatever that was named, those things. Yeah. And I would say too, like I think that, I think land is important, but land is a piece of the pie. I mean, land is the thing that a lot of other things flow through. So every time we’ve had our land rights infringed upon, we also see the loss of language, the loss of culture, the loss of sovereignty. Like, you can’t you can’t tease those things apart. And I think the restoration is also all of those things together. And so, you know, there’s like a shirt that says like land back, culture back, ceremony back. And so there’s also a lot of work to do to reclaim those other aspects that are that are really important to the health of indigenous communities. And the other thing I’ll add to it, there’s the actual like acreage and physical land, but then there’s also the sovereignty that tribes can exercise on that land that actually has been extremely limited unilaterally by the Supreme Court. So in 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that tribes cannot criminally prosecute non-natives who commit crimes on our land. Um, and then on the, in the eighties, the Supreme Court, in a really complicated and convoluted way, really curtailed civil jurisdiction. So civil jurisdiction is like permitting and zoning and, you know, the right to sue somebody and your court and stuff like that. And that got really curtailed by the Supreme Court in the eighties. And again, like those were decisions that like we didn’t have like really strong legal foundation. It was kind of the court going out there and being like, well, tribes, you know, non-natives can’t can’t be prosecuted in tribal court. That wouldn’t be fair. And so, kind of like we got.
Amy Westervelt Which has led straight to this the missing and murdered indigenous. Yeah, right. Yeah. Like which I think so, A, I feel like both of these things relate to the oil and gas industry as well, because so many of the the missing and murdered indigenous women cases come from man camps that are tied to building pipelines or working oil fields or things like that. But also the civil thing, too. Like actually the there’s a super interesting case. It was in tribal court in Minnesota, and I think they’re filing one in Michigan to kind of invoking certain treaty rights around rights of nature to try to block some pipelines, too. And they’re they’re putting up against this whole thing of like, are you are aren’t you allowed to bring civil cases in tribal court? Like, yeah, there’s I don’t know. Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. And what you’re supposed to be able to if the actions of the non-native corporation or person threatens the health and welfare of the tribe. But courts have interpreted that to mean never applied. But it doesn’t. And so, yeah. So just when I think about land back, I think about actual like physical land. But then I also think about the sovereignty that tribes can exercise on that land and the ways that that has been chipped away and also needs to be restored.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Amy Westervelt That’s actually a good segway into the next thing we want to talk about, which is like land practices. So, you know, there has been I think we talked about this last time you were on to there’s been some movement towards really like giving tribes more control over how land is managed as well. And there’s been some recent laws passed that that do that at the state level as well. But then, you know, we were kind of thinking like, well, that’s great. But also it’s kind of annoying to be expected to like fix, you know, several decades of degradation. You know, like here’s your land back, but it’s way more damage than it was. Sorry. So, yeah, I’m just curious what you think about that and like that whole kind of complicated not.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, and I’ll be honest, like, I’ve seen some of that stuff. I’m not like very up to date. I know that there were some announcements around like efforts to co-manage public lands, like the Biden administration just had their like a big summit with tribal nations. And I, I’m like, so I get very like tunnel vision.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rebecca Nagle I can tell you everything about, like, one thing.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah, no worries.
Rebecca Nagle So I’m not really up to date on everything that’s going on with that. But yeah, I mean, I think that I mean, I think that a lot of, you know, if you just even look at like fire management, right? Like that’s like the example that everybody always uses. But it’s true that like, indigenous nations have like practices of, like, controlled burns, like our word for fall. And Cherokee is actually like also the word for like burning stuff because it’s like, you know, when we do it. And so, yeah, I think that there are a lot of like and I think too, like we have this like really idea that like there’s this really deep seeded racist idea that I think helps people feel less bad about genocide that like the US wants this like wilderness and indigenous communities actually like interacted with and manipulated and changed nature all over the place. And so it wasn’t like I think in Western thinking they’re sort of like the city and then the wilderness and the wilderness is like untouched by man. And that’s I think that’s like a very Western idea. And so yeah, I think that there is a lot of indigenous land practices and obviously like also like very deep knowledge about the places that different tribes are from. I think what would really I think policies that would really move the needle forward on that would be thinking about opening up public lands to co-management with indigenous nations.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Or just being manage delete the CO.
Amy Westervelt Yeah. Anyway, okay. So one of the things that we that we were looking at is this new. There’s a new policy in California that just passed in October. And it is it’s giving five tribes the right to manage and protect around 200 miles of coastline. And it’s land that was part of their ancestral lands. It’s not all of their land, but part of it. And they are. It sounds like working with the USDA and the Forest Service and really kind of taking over from them. So, yeah, I do wonder if like what you think of that as a model, but also like whether. I don’t know. I just feel like it’s like. Well. Like, to your point just a minute ago. Why should any of the U.S. government agencies really need to be involved anymore at all? It’s like, look, you failed. You did a bad job. Like let someone else try. You know?
Rebecca Nagle Yeah, um, you know like, sometimes things are a process. And so if there’s a process, you know, I think that that’s also okay. Yeah. I mean, I think that you know there’s so many there’s just so I mean, there’s so many sacred sites and important places that are within the public lands. Like, I haven’t been back to our homeland that much in my life. I’ve only been twice or three times. And I went recently, like last month and, you know, just, just going into some of these spaces that are in the the I what is the name of that park that’s Smoky Mountains? I think it’s Blue Ridge National Park. But there are some sites that are really significant to us as Cherokee people that are in that park. You know, one of them, they built this like giant observation tower on. It’s just like very interesting, like also like the signage and how I mean, there’s just like so much room for improvement, even just like in the places where, you know, maybe those sites aren’t being taken care of or even how they’re talked about and how that history is talked about. And so I think it would be a really different way for our country to think about public lands, like if if there was more stewardship and more power and more say really with indigenous nations and how those plans were managed.
Mary Annaise Heglar Mm.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, especially in the case of tribes like Cherokee that were moved from their ancestral lands to that bear very little resemblance, like in going from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the plains of Oklahoma as a pretty major shift and you know.
Mary Annaise Heglar Really different situation.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. And we have I mean, the Ozarks kind of come in. So we have like little fingers of the Ozarks here in eastern Oklahoma. But yeah, it’s not it’s not the mountains. It’s yeah, it’s definitely not the mountains. And we were, you know, we lived in like the Tennessee Valley and then and parts of like what is present day like northern Georgia. And so yeah, and there’s Eastern Band is still there. And so, you know, they’re right there in Cherokee, North Carolina. And so some, you know, some folks have remained and they’re still there. But yeah, it’s definitely like. Yeah. I mean, I think there is a lot of, like I said, knowledge that indigenous nations have from the places in the lands that we are from. Obviously in this moment of rapidly, infinitely exponentially increasing compounding climate crisis is useful. And I think that there’s sort of growing recognition of that. And I think that we need policy change that matches that recognition. And so, yeah, I mean, I think you kind of you kind of can’t disentangle fighting climate change away from the rights of indigenous people. And, you know, so one for one, like, you know, they’re trying to drill oil like tribes that are, you know, everywhere across the globe. But overall, we see that when it comes to stewarding, whether it’s like biodiversity or for us, the indigenous people across the globe are doing that more than any other group.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be an indigenous person watching everybody be like, You know what, maybe we should do control burns in the in the forests now. Like, ya think?
Rebecca Nagle But it’s like it’s like that with everything. It’s like we think that trauma is passed down in the DNA and it’s like, well, yeah, dude, like we’ve been saying that or like, you know, I mean, it’s just like that was everything like, yeah, do you know, like, yeah, I mean, it’s just every science.
Mary Annaise Heglar And not to add ad nauseam examples. But I also remember that study that came out, I think it was 2019 or 2018 that was like when indigenous genocide happen, it changes the climate. It’s like, Oh really? You thought you could just kill off a whole lot of people who are part of an ecosystem and nothing would happened?
Amy Westervelt Right.
Mary Annaise Heglar How is that surprising?
Amy Westervelt I remember I interviewed a guy this is maybe like four or five years ago now, like when the first round of the protests, the monarchy were happening in Hawaii. Not the most recent, but there was like ones earlier than that. And and I was talking to him about it and and he was like, you know, I really hate the whole framing of indigenous people as being, like, anti-science, because he’s like the whole reason that, like, we treat monarchy as sacred is that it’s like we knew that the water running off of the mountain was going to get into the wetlands and into like all of the farmland below, and that it was important to keep that water clean. And it’s like it was like watershed science. We just had like a different way of explaining it, but like, it doesn’t make our, you know, our explanation, like myth. And yours is science. It’s like I see it over and over and over again.
Mary Annaise Heglar Right. They think indigenous wisdom is just like vibes. Its ridiculous.
Rebecca Nagle Yes.
Amy Westervelt Stories. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway.
Rebecca Nagle And now. Now thats the Supreme Court just vibes, no law.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, exactly.
Amy Westervelt Exactly, just vibes no law.
Rebecca Nagle That’s from Strict Scrutiny.
Amy Westervelt That’s perfect subject for this episode.
Mary Annaise Heglar You gave us the perfect title. Thank you so much, Rebecca. I appreciate that.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. I have to say, I stole it from Strict Scrutiny. They say that, yeah, where they’re like, just vibin. Just Kavanaugh is just vibin. He’s not worried about the Constitution or the law.
Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. He doesn’t need to be. God.
Rebecca Nagle Yeah.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.
Amy Westervelt All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us again and honoring us as our last guest.
Mary Annaise Heglar Yes, thank you.
Rebecca Nagle Oh my goah. I’m so sad it’s coming to an end, but I know that you guys do like 100 bazillion things. So I’m sure.
Amy Westervelt Yes
Rebecca Nagle Yeah. It’s really cool to be with you guys again. Thank you so much for having me.
Mary Annaise Heglar Thank you.
Amy Westervelt Thank you.
Mary Annaise Heglar Hot Take is a Crooked Media production.
Amy Westervelt It’s produced by Ray Pang and mixed and edited by Jordan Kantor.
Mary Annaise Heglar Our music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Leo Duran is our senior producer.
Amy Westervelt And our executive producers are Mary Annaise Heglar, Michael Martinez and me, Amy Westervelt.
Mary Annaise Heglar Special thanks to Sandy Girard, Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin and Charlotte Landes for production support and to Amelia Montooth for additional support.
Amy Westervelt You can follow the show on Twitter at Real Hot Take and subscribe to Crooked Media’s video channel at YouTube.com slash Crooked Media.