A discussion about Indigenous economies, governance, and laws begins with relationships. These relationships are centered in a place, a traditional territory, and include responsibilities towards that place. Such a relational approach to Indigenous economies is in conflict with capitalist modes of extraction and the settler Canadian court’s narrow conception of the duties of “consultation and accommodation” as the state’s primary responsibility when an activity or project will infringe Aboriginal rights in a traditional territory. The purpose of this article is to explore the conflict between Indigenous economies and state-sponsored extraction drawing on the experience of two Indigenous nations in British Columbia, Canada—the Heiltsuk and Tsleil-Waututh Nations—who are upholding their relationship with their traditional territories through the assertion of jurisdiction. The Heiltsuk continue to challenge the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ permitting commercial herring fisheries, and have dealt with a marine diesel spill using their own legal processes. The Tsleil-Waututh are opposing the construction of another fossil fuel pipeline in their territory that would increase tanker traffic in the habitat of endangered orcas by seven hundred percent by conducting their own assessment of the project based on Coast Salish law. These exercises of jurisdiction demonstrate relations with and responsibilities towards these Nations’ traditional territories that underscore ecosystem health and wellbeing as the foundation of Indigenous economies. While these examples effectively demonstrate the Nations’ responsibility towards their territories, the regimes of state-sponsored extractions require radical reformulation to be able to engage relational processes of consent.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.