August 2021

This report was researched and written by Dallas Goldtooth and Alberto Saldamando of Indigenous Environmental Network and Kyle Gracey of Oil Change International, with contributions from Tom Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network and Collin Rees of Oil Change International. It was edited by Collin Rees. Photograph collection and additional research was done by Jennifer Falcon of Indigenous Environmental Network.


The authors are grateful for feedback from reviewer Bronwen Tucker of Oil Change International.


Design: Paul Wright

Cover Image: No DAPL Protest March, Standing Rock 2016, One day after the infamous usage of attack dogs by DAPL security upon water protectors. Photo by Dallas Goldtooth.

Back Cover Image: Stop Line 3 Treaty People Gathering 2021, photo by Thaiphy Phan-Quang / Indigenous Environmental Network.


August 2021


Indigenous Environmental Network is an alliance of Indigenous Peoples whose Shared Mission is to Protect the Sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination and exploitation by Respecting and Adhering to Indigenous Knowledge and Natural Law.


Oil Change International is a research, communications, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the ongoing transition towards clean energy.


Published by:

Oil Change International 714 G Street SE

Washington, DC 20003 USA

Indigenous Resistance Against Carbon seeks to uplift the work of countless Tribal Nations, Indigenous water protectors, land defenders, pipeline fighters, and many other grassroots formations who have dedicated their lives to defending the sacredness of Mother Earth and protecting their inherent rights of Indigenous sovereignty and self- determination. In this effort, Indigenous Peoples have developed highly effective campaigns that utilize a blended mix of non-violent direct action, political lobbying, multimedia, divestment, and other tactics to accomplish victories in the fight against neoliberal projects that seek to destroy our world via extraction.

In this report, we demonstrate the tangible impact these Indigenous campaigns of resistance have had in the fight against fossil fuel expansion across what is currently called Canada and the United States of America. More specifically, we quantify the metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions that have either been stopped or delayed in the past decade due to the brave actions of Indigenous land defenders. Adding up the total, Indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions.

Water Protectors Stop Construction of Energy Transfers Partners’ Bayou Bridge Pipeline, L’eau La Vie Camp 2017, photo courtesy of Indigenous Environmental Network.

Our aim is two-fold: First, that Indigenous land defenders are emboldened to see the collective results of their efforts and utilize this information as a resource to garner further support. Second, that settler nation-state representatives, organizations, institutions, and individuals recognize the impact of Indigenous leadership in confronting climate chaos and its primary drivers. We hope that such settlers, allies or not, come to stand with Indigenous Peoples and honor the inherent rights of the first peoples of Turtle Island — the land currently called North America — by implementing clear policies and procedures grounded in Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and by ending fossil fuel expansion once and for all.

We begin by setting the context of Indigenous Rights and Responsibilities and Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and acknowledge the criminalization of defenders that deeply affects Indigenous resistance. We then examine 26 Indigenous frontline struggles against a variety of fossil fuel projects across all stages of the fossil fuel infrastructure development chain over the past decade. We cherish these struggles, not only for their accomplishments, but for the hope they instill in the next seven generations of life; a hope that is based on spiritual practice and deep relationship with the sacredness of Mother Earth.

This report is generated in the spirited belief that our movements do not occur in isolation, nor are they alone in execution. We are a web of freedom fighters, radically imagining a future in which our liberation efforts bear the sweetest fruits for the benefit of all life. We move with spiritual foundation, grounded in our love for the land, for we know the self-evident truth of our struggle — the land is our sovereignty, and our sovereignty is in the land.