Background image of Gail Small stands behind a podium speaking with her hands in the air

Indigenous Leadership Award

Since 2001, we have recognized 54 tribal leaders with Ecotrust’s Indigenous Leadership Award (ILA) for their dedication to their culture and their work to improve economic and environmental conditions of their homelands and people.

Each November, we host a ceremony celebrating these leaders and present them with a cash award to further their mission in strengthening their communities.

Through the generous support of a private endowment, we award a monetary prize to each honoree. Nominations are excepted throughout the year prior to the awards ceremony in the fall. Both Native and non-Native nominators gather stories, tribal endorsements, supporting materials, and recommendation letters with great respect and gratitude for the nominee’s service and dedication.

black and white portrait of Jeannette Armstrgon

“Today we human beings face the biggest of obstacles and the greatest of challenges to our creativity and responsibility. Let us begin with courage and without limitation.”

— Jeannette Armstrong


A reading panel comprised of three Ecotrust staff members and several tribal leaders from Alaska to California convenes to peer review the nominations and narrow the field down to five honorees. A final jury panel of senior tribal leaders and Ecotrust’s Board Chair, Spencer Beebe, choose the finalist from among the honorees.

Nominations are open

We are now accepting nominations for the 2014 Indigenous Leadership Award. Nominations and all supporting documentation are due by April 15. Find nomination guidelines and forms here. Details about the 2014 Indigenous Leadership Award Ceremony are forthcoming.


Billy Frank, Jr. responds to Jon Waterhouse's call for human connection from the podium at the 2012 Indigenous Leadership Award Ceremony

Support indigenous leadership

Help Ecotrust expand the impact of indigenous leadership on crucial issues by supporting the Indigenous Leadership Award. Your involvement will not only support ongoing work by honorees in their communities, but also facilitate and grow the exchange of knowledge across the circle of Native leaders to the broader region and world.

Join us each fall to celebrate the ILA; or make a gift today to support this invaluable network of authentic community leaders.