Court dismisses Kivalina environmental case


On September 30, 2009 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit by the Native Village of Kivalina (Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil, et al) against twenty-four oil, energy and utility companies.  The Village sought damages under a federal common law claim of nuisance, based on the companies contribution to the excessive emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which the Village claims is causing global warming.  Judge Armstrong concluded that the Village’s federal claim for nuisance is barred by the political question doctrine and for lack of standing under Article III of the United States Constitution.

This case will now be appealed to the Ninth Circuit to overturn the Judge’s decision.  Since the September ruling, the Fifth and the Second Federal Appellate Courts (a total of six judges) have now disagreed with Judge Armstrong.

The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment – plus six law firms – had filed the lawsuit on behalf of the tiny and impoverished Alaskan village of Inupiat Eskimos located in the Arctic Circle against industrial corporations that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases.  The Native Village of Kivalina faces imminent destruction from global warming due to the melting of sea ice that formerly protected the village from coastal storms during the fall and winter. The diminished sea ice, due to global warming, has caused a massive erosion problem that threatens the village’s existence and urgently requires the village be relocated.  It has been estimated that the cost to move the Village could range up to $400 million.

The Native Village of Kivalina, which is a federally recognized Indian Tribe, and the City of Kivalina, which is an Alaskan municipality, filed the lawsuit on February 26, 2008 on their own behalf and on behalf of all tribal members against defendants ExxonMobil Corp., Peabody Energy Corp., Southern Company, American Electric Power Co., Duke Energy Co, Chevron Corp., and Shell Oil Co., among others. In total there were nine oil company defendants, fourteen electric power company defendants and one coal company defendant.



NARF Attorney to Deliver Library of Congress's 2009 Celebration of Native American Heritage Month Keynote Address

null Dawn Sturdevant Baum, Native American Rights Fund Staff Attorney, will deliver Native American Heritage Month keynote address for the Library of Congress's 2009 celebration of Native American Heritage Month on Nov. 18. This year's national theme is "Pride in Our Heritage. Honor to Our Ancestors."
This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
2:00 p.m.
Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building
Whittall Pavilion (first floor)
10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

 For more information:



The Washington, DC office of the Native American Rights Fund has moved!

null After nearly forty years at its 1712 N Street address, the DC Office of the Native American Rights Fund has moved to join with the National Congress of American Indians at the “Embassy of Tribal Nations” – an historic office building and carriage house located in the heart of the thriving 15 and P Street Neighborhood near Dupont Circle.  The major move was efficiently orchestrated by Office Manager Angela Gonzales, allowing Staff Attorneys Richard Guest and Dawn Baum to continue their important legal work as they all settle into their new surroundings. 

The new office address is:  Native American Rights Fund, 1514 P Street, NW (Rear) Suite D, Washington, D.C.  20005.  The phone and fax numbers remain the same:  phone: (202) 785-4166; fax: (202) 822-0068.

To mark the move and celebrate the historic opening of the Embassy of Tribal Nations, Executive Director John Echohawk will join Tribal leaders, NCAI and NARF-DC staff in a Blessing Ceremony on Tuesday morning, November 3rd, followed by an Open House later in the afternoon.  John Echohawk will then join Tribal leaders on November 5th at the Tribal Nations Summit – the first of what-is-promised-to-be an annual Nation-to-Nation meeting between Tribal leaders and President Obama.  

Embassy of Tribal Nations Gala Open House

This event is open to the public. Please RSVP to Tonya Deal at

Time: 2:00-8:00 p.m.



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