The prohibition on development of oil by indigenous peoples is part of this mentality of the “Ecological Indian” – one which denies agency to these peoples unless they fit within this stereotyped image
Shepard Krech III, PhD and Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Brown University, 1999, “The Ecological Indian: Myth and History”, W. W. Norton & Company, New York: London, acc. 2/15/13, p. 215-216
But what should be made of the differences of opinion among the Navajo? Of Hopi Indians who favor strip-mining, arguing that the most important part of their guiding philosophyand prophecy is to know "how to use the gifts of Mother Earth"? Of Miccosukee Indians, who proposed buildingsixty-five houses in EvergladesNational Park against the objections ofthe Park Service and environmentalists whispering that they are poor stewards of the land and therefore undeserving of special rights as Indians? Of the Alaskan Inupiat, who killed hundreds of caribou in the 1970s, used only part of the kill, left bloated carcasses behind, and were accused by white hunters (who had acted in virtually identical fashion themselves) of placing the herds in jeopardy? Of the Wisconsin Chippewa, who reportedly let thousands of fish spoil in warm weather? Of Rosebud Sioux activists, who wanted to stop use of the reservation for off-reservation trash out of concern—as the tribal chairman remarked facetiously—for Mother Earth, yet had never protested Rosebud's existing open dumps? Of Crow Indians and Indians from Wind River, the joint Shoshone-Arapahoe reservation in Wyoming, who, in separate incidents, killed many elkand, to the horror of big-game hunters and biologists, reputedly took only choice cuts for themselves, or only meat or antlers for sale, leaving many animals to rot? Or of the Ute who want a dam and reservoir—over strong objections from the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund—probably to transport low-sulfur coal through a coal slurry-pipeline to power plants at some future time?" For the sake of a simple narrative, critics who excoriate the larger society as they absolve Indians of all blame sacrifice evidence that in recent years, Indian people have had a mixed relationship to the environment. They victimize Indians when they strip them of all agency in their lives except when their actions fit the image of the Ecological Indian. Frozen in this image, native people should take only what they need and use all that they take, and if they must participate in larger markets, far better it be to profit from hydroponic vegetables, fish, or other "traditional" products than from oil,coal, trash, and like commodities. As one journalist remarked, "native people are supposed to be keepers of the earth, not protectors of its poisons."12 The connections between Indians and nature have been so tightly drawn over five hundred years, and especially in the last quarter of the twentieth century, that many non-Indians expect indigenous people to walk softly in their moccasins as conservationists and even (in Muir's sense) preservationists. When they have not, they haveat times eagerly been condemned, accused of not acting as Indians should, and held to standards that they and their accusers have seldom met.