Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Allen Springer


This paper seeks to evaluate the evolution and future of Indigenous rights in extractive industry on a global scale and uses the Arctic both to explore the complexity of these rights and to provide paths forward in advancing Indigenous self-determination. Indigenous rights lack a strong international foundation and are often dependent upon local and domestic regimes, yet this reality is currently shifting. The state of extraction internationally, particularly in the Arctic, is also facing major uncertainty in the coming decades as demand continues to rise. Indigenous rights and the rules governing extractive industry intersect because much of the world’s remaining mineral resources are on or near Indigenous territories and Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted by the environmental degradation and socio-cultural consequences of extractive development. The Arctic is arguably the most important setting for the world’s future resource needs and is also home to many Indigenous peoples who operate in complex legal, political, and social webs. This paper argues that as a result of these dynamics, the Arctic offers opportunities to advance forms of non-traditional sovereignty and to promote recognition of Indigenous self-determination through diffusion and international norm development. This paper proposes a multi-faceted approach to further promote Indigenous rights on the international level which involves using the Arctic Council as a platform for diffusion, the US ratification of UNDRIP, the creation of standards and guidelines for transnational corporations in development projects, and investment in Indigenous communities to support Indigenous empowerment, advocacy, and voices.