Indigenous Leadership Awards

A celebration of the determination, wisdom, and continuum of Indigenous leadership across the region.

2001 – 2014; 2022 – present

Native peoples have persevered as generations of Indigenous leaders and community members have worked tirelessly to protect their sovereignty, families, cultures, and homelands. Today, in tribal council chambers from Northern California to Southeast Alaska, this continuum of visionary leadership and care remains intact as contemporary Indigenous leaders continue to address the many political, cultural, environmental, economic, and social challenges facing them. 

The desire to recognize the determination of Native peoples and the significant achievements of Indigenous leadership are the reasons the Indigenous Leadership Awards (ILA) were created. The awards are a public appreciation—a celebration—of each awardees’ unwavering dedication and impact.  

Full Awardee and Honoree List

Since 2001, the ILA has recognized 60 outstanding Indigenous leaders for their unwavering dedication to strengthen self-determination and their efforts to uplift their communities and lands. Nominated by their community and selected by their peers, these Indigenous leaders come from all walks of life and represent many different tribes,
villages, First Nations, languages, cultures, and landscapes.


Julie Kitka (Chugach Eskimo)

Paul Lumley (Yakama)

Spring Alaska Schreiner (Inupiaq, Chugach Alaska Native Corporation shareholder and Valdez Native Tribe)

Michelle Week (Sinixt)


Roberta Reyes Cordero (Chumash Nation), Awardee

Annita McPhee (Tahltan Nation)

Eric J. Quaempts (Yakama)

Roy Sampsel (Choctaw/Wyandotte)

Arthur Williams Sterritt (Gitga’at)


Brian Cladoosby (Swinomish), Awardee

Patience Andersen Faulkner (Chugach Eskimo)

Micah McCarty (Makah)

Gail Small (Northern Cheyenne)

Jonathan Waterhouse (S’Klallam/Chippewa/Cree)


Delores Ann Pigsley (Siletz), Awardee

Nora Dauenhauer (Tlingit) (1927 – 2017)

Chief Adam Dick (Kawadillikall Clan of the Dzawatainuk Tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation) (1929 – 2018)

Wayne Warren Don (Cup’ig/Yupik)

Chuck Sams (Cocopa)


Kim Recalma-Clutesi (Kwagiulth/Pentlatch), Awardee

Jessie Housty (Heiltsuk)

Terry L. Cross (Seneca)

Sandra Sunrising Osawa (Makah)


James Manion (Wasco), Awardee

Janeen Comenote (Hesquiaht/Kwakiutl/Oglala Lakota/Quinault)

Allen Pinkham, Sr. (Nez Perce)

Brian Wallace (Washoe)

Patricia L. Whitefoot (Yakama)


Roberta (Bobbie) Conner (Cayuse/Umatilla/Nez Perce), Awardee

Carol Craig (Yakama)

Alfred (Bud) Lane, III (Siletz)

Lillian Moyer (Tahltan)


Guujaaw (Haida), Awardee

Harold Gatensby (Danka Tlingit)

Ilarion Larry Merculieff (Aleut)

Tawna Sanchez (Shoshone Bannock/Ute)

Judith Sayers, PhD (Nuu-chah-nulth)


W. Ron Allen (Jamestown S’Klallam), Awardee

Robi Michelle Craig (Kiks.adi Clan, Steel House, Tlingit)

Leaf Hillman (Karuk)

Chief Robert Simeon Pasco (Nlaka’pamux Nation)

Shawn E. Yanity (Stillaguamish)


Sarah James (Neetasii Gwich’in), Awardee

Clarence Alexander (Dranjik Gwich’in)

Ivan Jackson, Sr. (Klamath/Modoc)

Teri Rofkar (Sitka Tribe of Alaska) (1936 – 2016)

Terry Williams (Tulalip Tribes)


Jeannette Armstrong (Okanagan), Awardee

Billy Frank, Jr. (Nisqually) (1931 – 2014)

Susan Masten (Yurok)

Chief Nathan Matthew (Shuswap Nation)

Agnes Pilgrim (Takelma Band of Siletz) (1924 – 2019)


Kelly Brown (Heiltsuk), Awardee

Carol Craig (Yakama)

Kathleen Hill (Klamath)

Robert Sam (Sitka Tribe of Alaska)

John Ward (Taku River Tlingit First Nation)


Phillip Cash Cash (Cayuse/Nez Perce), Awardee

Susan Burdick (Yurok)

David Hatch (Siletz) (1936 – 2016)

Dennis Martinez (Tohono O’odham)

Pauline Hilistis Waterfall (Heiltsuk)

Call for nominations

The nomination period for the 2023 Indigenous Leadership Awards is now closed.

Learn more about the 2023 eligibility, nomination requirements, and review process. 

2023 ILA nominations info session

In this info session, Ecotrust’s Director of the Indigenous Leadership Program, Lisa Watt, shares tips and recommendations for submitting nominations for this year’s Indigenous Leadership Awards.
A photo of a beach


Indigenous Leadership briefings

As a lead-up to the Indigenous Leadership Awards ceremony, our Indigenous Leadership Program curates a series of hour-long, online gatherings. This briefing series features tribal leaders from across the Pacific Northwest, who discuss the historical context of issues tribal communities have confronted over time and the ways Indigenous leaders responded. Attendees learn about little-known eras, issues, and subjects, all from an Indigenous perspective, and about the impact of Indigenous leadership on the well-being of tribal communities and beyond.

Ecotrust Project Team & Services

Want to learn more? Check out the full Ecotrust Staff & Board and all of our Tools for Building Collective Change.

Ecotrust project team

We engage and communicate powerful stories at the intersection of equity, economy, and the environment.

A photo of a man speaking into a microphone at a podium

Any attempt to chart a sustainable course for the future must include the traditions, knowledge, and aspirations of Native people.

—SPENCER B. BEEBE, ecotrust founder



Blog post

IN MEMORIAM | On August 5, 2022, Alan R. Parker walked on

close up of drum being played with feathered sticks, indigenous community image

Blog post

STAFF VOICES | In place of a land acknowledgement, Ecotrust staff are asking you to support Indigenous communities by taking action 

Image taken from the front door of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation tribal government center on the first night of the Chuweah Creek Fire, July 12, 2021. It started at 7 pm.

Blog post

INTERVIEW | An interview with Cody Desautel about the impacts of climate change on the Tribes’ forest and economy and how they are responding to threats

A portrait of Gabe Sheohips holding a lamprey eel.

Blog post

INTERVIEW | An interview with Gabe Sheoships, the Executive Director of the Friends of Tryon Creek

Mike Durglo, Jr. standing in front of a whitebark pine

Blog post

PARTNER VOICES | An interview with Mike Durglo, Jr., the Tribal Historic Preservation Office director for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

A boat on milky aqua water, with forested hills in the background

Blog post

STAFF VOICES | Centering this region’s Indigenous peoples and traditional land and water management knowledges.


Blog post

STAFF VOICES | Centering this region’s Indigenous peoples and traditional land and water management knowledges.

A sheen of oil chokes a bed of kelp. This marine plant is critical spawning ground for herring -- a staple food for the Heiltsuk community. Photo by April Bencze

Blog post

INTERVIEW | Jess Housty of the Heiltsuk First Nation shares the social and economic impacts following the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart

A woman in a woven hat stands with a body of water and green hills in the background.

Blog post

INTERVIEW | The story behind the Heiltsuk First Nation investigating and eventually litigating a 2016 diesel spill in unceded territorial waters


Blog post

INTERVIEW | Lisa J. Watt and Doe Hatfield interviewed Alan Parker following the publication of his recent book, Pathways to Indigenous Nation Sovereignty

Ariel image showing the outlines of a salmon farming operation at a distance such that the boats and gates are like drawing lines

Blog post

Tribes respond: Atlantics salmon in the Salish Sea  

PARTNER VOICES | Tribes around the Puget Sound have long objected to Atlantic salmon being farmed in the Salish Sea. An incident last August shows us why.

Radical, practical change starts with you.

support our work