2012 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award
November 13, 2012 — Ecotrust today honored five exceptional Native leaders with the 11th annual Indigenous Leadership Award at the Portland Art Museum. Selected for their work throughout the region to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of their homelands and people, four honorees received $5,000 and the 2012 Indigenous Leadership Awardee, Brian Cladoosby, received $25,000 to continue their respective missions.
Ecotrust founder and president Spencer B. Beebe commented, “This year’s awardees demonstrate the broader impact of our region’s indigenous leaders — these are national and international leaders working to benefit people, economies and the environment far beyond the boundaries of their homelands.”
Christine Gregoire, the Governor of Washington, said of 2012 awardee Brian Cladoosby, “After knowing Chairman Cladoosby for many years, it is an honor to call him a friend and true partner. I have had the pleasure to work alongside him to restore our oceans and rivers, and to honor native heritage. It’s not easy to work on issues of great controversy. Chairman Cladoosby takes these issues on one after another, and his perseverance has helped make Washington and our nation a better place for people and for salmon.”
Awardee: Brian Cladoosby
As chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in northwestern coastal Washington, Cladoosby has shown exceptional skill in strengthening economic and environmental conditions among Coast Salish tribal communities. He has cultured a unified voice for members of 66 Coast Salish Tribes and Nations, allowing them to protect indigenous human rights and to restore the region from ecological degradation. Through his expansion efforts, Swinomish Fish Company now sources salmon from 22 tribes at one of two remaining canneries in western Washington. And Cladoosby has led regional and national efforts to form new ties between Salish people, scientists and the Obama administration.
Honoree: Gail Small
A lawyer and tribal leader with the Northern Cheyenne for nearly 30 years, Small’s work has changed the landscape of Indian law and environmental policy in the Northwest and nationwide. Her efforts have resulted in the establishment of the first bank, the first public high school and the first Chamber of Commerce on the North Cheyenne reservation. She has successfully drafted tribal laws for a number of Indian tribes, including code on traditional tribal burials, tribal environmental policy, and the tribal administrative policy, which helped set national precedent. She also facilitated the assertion of tribal authority over air and water quality standards on her reservation. A winner of numerous honors and awards over the years, Small’s work on environmental justice was the subject of an award-winning 2005 documentary, Homeland.
Honoree: Jonathan Andrew Waterhouse
Waterhouse has tirelessly worked to restore the Yukon River Watershed. Among his many roles, Waterhouse serves as executive director for the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC), a grassroots organization that brings together 70 sovereign indigenous governments with a simple goal: “To be able to drink directly from the Yukon River.” Waterhouse has been able to translate the group’s leadership vision into meaningful and significant implementation. His work and that of the Watershed Council serve as a model for other indigenous peoples around the world, as they attempt to restore, protect and preserve their watersheds and to exercise their traditional knowledge as a foundation for achieving their goals.
Honoree: Micah McCarty
As chairman of the Makah Tribal Council on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, McCarty has garnered important successes for Makah Nation by serving as a liaison between indigenous communities and the broader political system. His work in Neah Bay, Washington has led to significant headway in strengthening the response to oil spills in coastal waters, has helped protect tribal whaling rights, and has fostered stronger connections between tribal nations and U.S. governments. McCarty’s leadership on the Puget Sound Partnership brings deep traditional knowledge to a 21st-century effort to clean up the sound.
Honoree: Patience Andersen Faulkner
Faulkner, a community organizer and traditional crafts teacher, is honored for her fostering of native culture and community health in her hometown of Cordova, Alaska. She has also carried her experience and wisdom to native communities and local organizers across the country. Her work centers on the idea that strong, revitalized native communities steeped in indigenous culture are the cornerstones for resilience in an ever-changing world. When the inevitable forces of change bear down on Cordova and similar communities around the country — as they have in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico — Faulkner has been able to demonstrate that strong local ties and knowledge form a crucial safety net.
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