Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
PORTLAND, OREGON Five tribal leaders from the Pacific Northwest were announced today as finalists for the prestigious Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award:
“This year's finalists are exceptional national and international leaders, with accomplishments in Indian Country and far beyond,”
said Rick George, Ecotrust's vice president of indigenous affairs and policy.
“They are bringing their cultures, traditions, and unique perspectives into the marketplace, policy forums, and local communities throughout the region. Ecotrust values their counsel as we shape our own policies and programs at the intersection of social, economic, and environmental change.”
The Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award is given each year to one awardee and four honorees who show extraordinary dedication to their culture and who work to improve the economic and environmental conditions of their homelands and people. Since 2001, 48 tribal leaders have been honored. And through the generous support of a private endowment, Ecotrust awards $25,000 to the awardee and $5,000 to the four other honorees to continue their work.
A special jury panel comprised of tribal elders and leaders and Ecotrust President and Founder Spencer Beebe will convene in late August to decide this year's top awardee.
The awards will be conferred November 13, at the Portland Art Museum. More details on the award ceremony are at
More about each finalist follows:
Gail Small - Northern Cheyenne
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."
Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby
Brian Cladoosby. As chairman of the Swinomish Tribal Senate in 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. Cladoosby has led regional and national efforts to form new ties between Salish people, scientists and the Obama administration.
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photo credit Suzanne Fogarty, Swinomish Tribal Archive, Mike Bicknell, Mary Marshall, Debbie Ross-Preston;
posted July 25, 2012 7:45 am edt