Ecotrust awards $40,000 to Indigenous leaders
Release Date: 12-01-2010

PORTLAND, Ore. — Ecotrust today announced that it is awarding $40,000 to four innovative indigenous leaders in the western U.S. and Canada who work to improve conditions in their communities. The awardees will be honored tomorrow, December 2, at an annual ceremony at Ecotrust’s Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland. Detailed information about each honoree and photos are available on the Web at

The honorees were selected by a panel of tribal leaders, and their work spans youth advocacy, cultural restoration, filmmaking, political organizing, scholarship, and more. The awards are granted with the goal of catalyzing further positive change within indigenous communities; the main awardee, Kim Recalma-Clutesi, is receiving $25,000, and three finalists will each receive $5,000.

The Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award is one of the preeminent programs honoring and supporting tribal, First Nation, and Alaska Native leaders in the western U.S. and Canada. Tribes and First Nations are more than an ethnic or minority demographic; they are nations and representative governments, major land owners, committed co-managers in natural resources, and they are major drivers of local and regional economies. Tribes, First Nations, and Alaska Natives hold long-range vision, sustainable societal values and a history of the land and marine and terrestrial ecosystems that provide a sense of place in the growing global economy.

Four Innovative Leaders

Awardee ($25,000)
Kim Recalma-Clutesi, Ogwi’low’gwa (Kwagiulth/Pentlatch – Qualicum Indian Reserve, BC) is honored with the 2010 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for her work as an activist, political organizer, consultant to government departments, and elected leader of the Qualicum Band of Indians of Vancouver Island, British Columbia; as a cross-cultural interpreter; as a prominent teacher, academic researcher, and expedition leader in the field of ethnobotany; as a recognized expert on intellectual property rights and the repatriation of sacred artifacts and objects; and as a reporter, photographer, historian and award-winning videographer and producer. Recalma-Clutesi has worked for decades at every level – tribal, university, provincial, and Canadian federal — in the struggles for indigenous language and ceremony reclamation, and the struggles to regain access to native lands and traditional foods. As a member of the Ninograd Collective, in the role of potlatch recorder, she has devoted herself to learning, teaching, interpreting, and preserving the Kwagiulth/Pentlatch ceremonial heritage for her people.

Finalist: ($5,000):
Terry L. Cross, Hah-ne-ga-noh (Seneca Nation of Indians/Bear Clan – Portland, OR) is honored for his leadership as a steadfast advocate for Indian children and their families. Cross founded the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), based in Portland, and for decades has lead this national organization as its director. Cross works at all levels of government — local, state, and national — to implement effective public policy law to protect Indian children. He’s a noted teacher and author of books, articles, and training manuals for welfare workers. Cross is of Seneca descent, a member of the Bear Clan.

Finalist: ($5,000)
Jessie Housty (Heiltsuk First Nation – Bella Bella, BC) is honored for her leadership and creativity as an outstanding emerging leader working to improve cultural opportunities for youth and the wider community. She is of Heiltsuk First Nation descent. Her tireless efforts to create the Thistalalh Memorial Library in Bella Bella, on the coast of BC, brought her community its first public access to books and reading programs. A student of medieval literature, researcher of native plants, and a volunteer in Haiti after the recent earthquake, her primary work continues to be the creation of programs to help youth succeed. Her latest initiative is for a First Nations Youth Corp of volunteers.

Finalist: ($5,000)
Sandra Sunrising Osawa (Makah – Seattle, WA) is honored for her visionary, award-winning career as an independent filmmaker, writer, producer and director of projects that tell Native stories from the indigenous point of view. She is of Makah descent, and has worked tirelessly advocating for the inclusion of Native American film technicians, writers, actors, producers and directors, literally changing the nature of the film industry. Her numerous documentary films have aired on PBS and commercial television and screened nationally and around the world at film festivals. She co-founded and co-owns Upstream Productions, which explores contemporary images of Indian people, explodes pernicious stereotypes, preserves important unreported history, and mentors film students.


About Ecotrust
Over nearly 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $60 million in grants into more than $300 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the world’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and children’s health, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it honors and supports the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership in its work. More on the Web at