Date of Award:

8-2022

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Jennifer Givens

Committee

Jennifer Givens

Committee

Marisela Martinez-Cola

Committee

Breanne K. Litts

Abstract

The news media acts as an important conduit for shaping societal views of the sociopolitics of climate change. While climate change will indeed affect everyone, it will not affect everyone equally. Indigenous peoples are among the populations whose well-being is threatened the most by climate change. International scholarship finds it is not uncommon for Indigenous cultures, communities, and perspectives to be underrepresented and misrepresented in Western climate change media. Research also indicates that fair Indigenous representation occurs when Indigenous peoples are the authors of news articles themselves. We evaluated the differences in discussions of climate change and environmental issues in news articles from two Indigenous news publications, Indian Country Today and Navajo Times, and two Western news publications, The New York Times and The Salt Lake Tribune. We performed a comparative media analysis of news coverage of climate change, environmental issues, and Indigenous peoples during 2020 and 2021 using novel Indigenous and Western worldviews coding frameworks informed by Tribal Critical Race Theory and other literature and theory in these respective areas. Our findings indicate that Indigenous news outlets employed our Tribal Critical Race Theory media frames more often than Western news outlets did. Additionally, Indigenous and Western news outlets engage their respective cultural environmental worldviews often and holistically throughout articles. Indigenous news outlets commonly engage Western environmental worldviews, but primarily in the context of problematizing Western environmental practices, and by necessity of Western worldviews’ dominance in the United States. Conversely, Western publications engage Indigenous environmental worldviews, when they do, to highlight the urgency of environmental problems and elucidate the Indigenous perspective of a problem, but negligibly in the context of positioning solutions to environmental problems. This content analysis contributes to a better understanding of Indigenous and Western worldviews and the media, settler colonialism, and climate change from Indigenous and Western perspectives. Utilizing theory-informed Indigenous worldviews media frames challenges the recurrent Western gaze on Indigenous peoples within academia. Overall, this research responds to a critical call for sociologists to engage more deeply with settler colonialism, Indigenous issues, and intersectional environmental justice.

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