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From the Sky to the Ground: Indigenous Peoples in an Age of Space Expansion

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Original languageEnglish
Article number101520
Number of pages10
Published13 Aug 2022


King's Authors


This paper will argue that there are pragmatic reasons to further cooperation between Indigenous peoples and space agencies, exemplified by Navajo-NASA cooperation. These pragmatic reasons rest upon an argument from belonging: space expansion involves a series of multi-generation projects. The significance of our contributions to these project will depend upon the actions of other generations who are unlikely to accept goals which are idiosyncratic, rather than drawing upon some deeper human concern with space. Such concern can be informed through Indigenous inclusion. The paper will remain officially neutral about a broader range of discourses concerning land rights, sovereignty, and attempts to situate dissent as resistance to colonial settler states. It will, however, presuppose a broad sympathy with Indigenous predicaments and group survival. The approach will be pragmatic in the sense that three nonarbitrary constraints/adequacy conditions will have to be met: (i) the overall approach must be geared to policy discussions rather than counterculture; (ii) Indigenous knowledge must be acknowledged as more than ecological, in order to be relevant to the matter at hand; and (iii) the practical role assigned to Indigenous peoples must be significant and distinctive. The overall aim is to explain that there is at least one important practical advantage of extending and deepening Indigenous inclusion.

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