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American Indian Law Journal






Indigenous peoples in the United States were not granted the full scope of their rights as citizens under the Constitution until the enactment of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Before that—and after—several state and federal campaigns worked to stifle the civil rights of Indigenous peoples. Many of those unjust and unconstitutional policies were upheld by the Supreme Court. In the current era, the anti-pipeline protests on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota sparked a new recognition of Indigenous resistance under the First Amendment—and vicious state and federal backlash against Indigenous free speech via the protest-stifling “civil infrastructure” laws being passed across the country. This paper examines the context of these laws and their constitutionality under the First Amendment. The pro-pipeline civil infrastructure laws unconstitutionally chill Indigenous free speech and were developed by state and federal governments as retaliation against Indigenous resistance and leadership in the anti-capitalist environmental justice movement. Alternatively, even if these laws were found to be constitutional on their face, they unconstitutionally target Indigenous communities, communities which are already often the targets of imperialistic environmental racism.