American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis explores how an inter-tribal coalition in Southern Utah is strategically mobilizing environmental ethics in order to guarantee access to tribal homelands. Facing serious threat from Anglo communities in Utah who use race and religion to produce themselves as the authentic local population, the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition forges new kinds of alliances with environmental groups and appropriates conservation and preservation ethics in order to reclaim the land. Indigenous articulations of environmentalism at Bears Ears disrupt the colonial temporal and spatial logics that undergird dominant American imaginaries of wilderness and antiquity, reattaching Native peoples to the land by centering Native American relationships to the natural world as indispensable to the future of preservation and conservation in the U.S. I employ a critical indigenous studies lens to critique how tribal governments contending with settler colonial politics of recognition strategically engage environmentalist rhetoric and align with conservation groups to assert an authentic indigeneity and guarantee their access to the land.




Indigenous, Settler Colonialism, Environmentalism

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Advisor

Goldstein, Alyosha

First Committee Member (Chair)

Holscher, Kathleen

Second Committee Member

Debenport, Erin