Editor’s note: In a rich, ongoing series, Facing Climate Change, multimedia producers and Ecotrust friends Benjamin Drummond and Sarah Joy Steele capture the real consequences of global warming for people on the ground, around the world. Here the focus is on Washington’s coastal Swinomish Tribe, led by the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award’s top honoree in 2012, Brian Cladoosby.
By Emma Deans
Ecotrust is proud to announce the winners of the 11th annual Indigenous Leadership Award, an honor bestowed on exceptional Native leaders who are working throughout the region to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of their homelands and people.
Ecotrust will present four honorees with $5,000 and the 2012 Indigenous Leadership Awardee, Brian Cladoosby, with $25,000, to continue their work within their communities, at a celebration and dinner on November 13th at the Portland Art Museum. The evening will include a traditional feast of wild and tribal- caught local salmon, an award and honoring ceremony, and music in the company of honorees.
Founder and president of Ecotrust 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.”
Since 2001, Ecotrust’s Indigenous Leadership Award has recognized over 50 of the world’s top Native leaders for dedication to their culture and their work. Ecotrust recognizes and supports tribal, First Nation, and Alaska Native sovereignty and inherent rights and believes that Native leadership and the collective wisdom informed by traditional cultural knowledge is an important part of the development of more resilient communities.
The 2012 Indigenous Leadership Award honorees are:
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. Cladoosby has led regional and national efforts to form new ties between Salish people, scientists, and the Obama administration.
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 Northern Cheyenne reservation. She has successfully drafted tribal laws for a number of Indian tribes, and contributed to the intertribal Traditional Tribal Burial Law, Tribal Environmental Policy Act, and the Tribal Administrative Policy Act. 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.”
Jonathan Andrew Waterhouse. Waterhouse has tirelessly worked to restore the Yukon River Watershed. Among his many roles, he 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.
Micah McCarty. As chairman of the Makah Tribal Council on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, McCarty has garnered important successes for the Makah Nation by serving as a liaison between indigenous communities and the broader state and federal political systems. 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 traditional whaling rights, and has fostered stronger connections between tribal nations and the U.S. government. His leadership on the Puget Sound Partnership brings deep traditional knowledge to a 21st-century effort to clean up that waterway.
Patience Andersen Faulkner. Faulkner, a community organizer and traditional crafts teacher, is honored for her constant fostering of native culture and community health in her hometown of Cordova, Alaska. She’s 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 do bear down on Cordova and other similar communities around the country — as they have in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the recent 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.
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.”
U.S. Senator Patty Murray added, “Chairman Cladoosby is a great leader not only for the Swinomish Tribe and Indian Country, but for Washington state and the nation. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell said: “I congratulate Chairman Brian Cladoosby on this well-deserved honor. Chairman Cladoosby has dedicated the last quarter-century of his life to improving the economy and environment for tribal communities in Washington and the entire Northwest. I also congratulate all the finalists for their tireless efforts on behalf of Indian Country, including Chairman Micah McCarty of the Makah Tribal Council.”
For information about tickets and pricing to the awards dinner and ceremony, please visit our Indigenous Leadership Award page. All are welcome to attend, but seating is limited.
Emma Deans is Ecotrust’s communications intern.