Indigenous Environmental Justice, Knowledge, and Law

  • Deborah McGregor Temple University Press


This article aims to introduce a distinct conception of Indigenous environmental justice (IEJ) based on Indigenous legal orders, knowledge systems, and conceptions of justice. This is not to suggest in any way that the existing environmental justice (EJ) scholarship is flawed; in fact, the scholarship and activism around EJ have been central in diagnosing and drawing attention to injustices that occur on a systematic basis everywhere in the world. This article argues instead that such discussions can be expanded by acknowledging that concepts of environmental justice, including distinct legal orders informed by Indigenous knowledge systems, already existed on Turtle Island for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. It also suggests that environmental justice framed within Indigenous worldviews, ontologies, and epistemologies may make significant contributions to broader EJ scholarship, particularly in relation to extending justice to other beings and entities in Creation. This approach acknowledges ongoing colonialism and emphasizes the need to decolonize in order to advance innovative approaches to IEJ.