College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Oil pipelines, crude, lakehead system, Great Lakes, Native American treaties


This thesis focuses on structures of international law and Native American treaties that were drafted throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries and how they directly affect today’s energy infrastructure standards. These Native American land rights treaties stemming back to the mid eighteenth century were the initial legal renderings that imposed Euro-American ideals of private property ownership on the Great Lakes region, and its already established peoples, in the long process of settler-colonialism of the Americas. The two new nation-states of the United States and Canada were wrought from, and took shape on, what was already lands home to indigenous groups. The generalized rights of the US and Canadian governments to these lands and their resources has led to the socialization, acculturation, and acceptance of limitless extraction and transportation of nonrenewable resources. Tracing the historical and ‘legal’ roots of land appropriation is reflective of and vital to understanding the current battle that is taking place between multinational energy companies, the national governments of the US and Canada, and Native American tribes with environmental advocacy groups, over the continued operation of oil pipelines within the greater context of the climate crisis and the proliferation of crude oil pipelines.