Native American tribes including the Navajo, as sovereign self-governing entities, do grapple with challenges under the United States federal system, yet their situation is significantly better than that of Africa's indigenous ethnic tribes such as the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region. This is particularly so when the issue relates to land and natural resources. The indigenous people of the Niger Delta neither possess ownership rights in their lands and natural resources nor do they have any tangible control over how the royalties or revenues derived from the natural resources found in their territory are allocated. This situation is clearly at odds with internationally prescribed standards on indigenous rights, which require that the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to the natural resources found on their lands should include the right of the people to participate in the use, management, and conservation of these resources.
The model in the United States, particularly with respect to land and natural resource rights of Native American tribes may provide a reference for jurisdictions with lagging legal frameworks. It may be unrealistic to predict that the widespread state ownership and control of natural resources will be supplanted by more favorable constitutional and regulatory regimes in the near future. One way to advance this cause, however, is to advocate for the adoption of reasonable revenues or royalty-sharing policies by states as an interim measure. This could at least provide a good starting point to begin the long journey toward change.
Ultimately, the expectation is that national governments in these countries will sooner, rather than later, respond to the fair dictates of international normative prescription and the relentless yearnings of the many marginalized indigenous tribal communities.
. LL.B, BL., Lagos St. University; LL.M, John Marshall Law School, Chicago; S.J.D., University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law. firstname.lastname@example.org.