Ecotrust names five honorees for 2014 Indigenous Leadership Award
Release Date: 10-09-2014

October 9, 2014, Portland, Oregon — Ecotrust today announced the honorees of the 12th annual Indigenous Leadership Award. They are: Annita McPhee (Tahltan), Arthur William Sterritt (Gitga’at), Eric J. Quaempts (Yakama), Roy Sampsel (Choctaw / Wyandotte), and the awardee, Roberta Reyes Cordero (Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation).

Since 2001, Ecotrust has recognized 58 tribal leaders with the Indigenous Leadership Award for their dedication to their culture and their work to improve economic and environmental conditions of their homelands and people. The organization is one of the few non-Native entities to recognize tribal leadership nationwide.

This year’s honorees, from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California, have worked to break new ground in relations between tribes and their federal, state, and provincial partners, as well as their counterparts in industry. They have worked tirelessly to protect ocean and salmon health, restore traditional foods through innovative resource management, and revive long-dormant cultural practices.

“We believe a new model of development is possible only through authentic engagement with the people who first inhabited the place we call home,” said Spencer B. Beebe, Ecotrust founder and executive board chair. “We are humbled to present these awards to another cohort of inspiring individuals from this place we call Salmon Nation.”

The honorees will receive their awards in a private ceremony on November 14, 2014. The public has two opportunities to meet and connect with this year’s ILA honorees  at a Portland City Club Friday Forum starting at 11:45am on November 14, and at the NAYA Gala at the Portland Art Museum on the evening of November 14.

City Club Friday Forum
The Friday Forum on November 14 will feature indigenous leaders from around the region, representing large urban Native communities, as well as reservation-based communities in Oregon and Washington. These leaders will detail how they are leveraging cultural revitalization — the process of affirming and promoting a community’s collective identity — to build more prosperous Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations communities. Learn more about Friday Forums at

Ecotrust and the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) are engaging in a new partnership this year to elevate the profile of indigenous leadership across the region during the NAYA Gala and Native American Heritage Month. On November 14, the recipients of the 12th annual Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award will attend the Gala event and will be celebrated for their work to improve their homelands and people. For more information, to purchase tickets or tables, or to sponsor the NAYA Gala, Oregon’s largest gathering celebrating Native American Heritage Month, visit

The Ecotrust-NAYA partnership will serve to sustain NAYA’s efforts within Portland’s Native community, and to strengthen the work Ecotrust does with indigenous communities across our region on food, forests, oceans and fisheries, water and watersheds, climate and energy, and the built environment.

The Honorees

ROBERTA REYES CORDERO of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, is a cultural ambassador and conflict resolution professional. For nearly 20 years she has been actively pursuing ways to give tribal people a voice in coastal marine planning in California. Aided by her efforts, the Chumash Nation has reestablished a connection to its canoeing and seafaring roots, which has led to a resurgence of the Chumash language, the preparation of Native foods, creation of art, and a reestablishment of family connections among tribal members.

ANNITA MCPHEE is an accomplished professional and leader who has demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing the economic prosperity of her Tahltan Nation people while protecting
their lands and way of life in northwestern British Columbia. She has negotiated agreements with industry and the B.C. Government on revenue sharing and shared decision making, and helped to permanently protect the Sacred Headwaters region of British Columbia from resource development.

ERIC J. QUAEMPTS is director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation department of natural resources and a Yakama tribal member who has shown visionary leadership integrating traditional ecological and cultural knowledge with scientific practice.

Building on almost 30 years of experience as a wildlife biologist, he has restructured his department around First Foods — water, salmon (fish), deer (large land mammals), cous (roots), and berries — which are deeply ingrained in tribal traditions and rituals. This has resonated with tribal community members, their partners, United States Tribes, federal and state agencies, and other indigenous communities, from Washington to Australia and Chile.

ROY SAMPSEL’s contributions to indigenous governance and environmental stewardship have taken him to the highest levels of the United States government. In rising to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, he worked on tribal rights protection and natural resource management and implementation of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act. He also served as director of Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Today, Sampsel is president of a Portland natural resources consulting firm and Director of the Institute for Tribal Government at Portland State University.

ARTHUR WILLIAMS STERRITT has fought tirelessly for protection and sustainable prosperity for the Great Bear Rainforest coastal region of British Columbia. His many leadership roles have included Chief Negotiator for the Gitga’at First Nation, Treaty Commissioner, Executive Director of the Gitga’at Development Corporation, and co-founder and Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations: Great Bear Initiative.


About Ecotrust
Ecotrust’s mission is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies, and ecosystems here and around the world. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding an environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms, and indigenous affairs, 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 takes inspiration from the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership. Learn more at @ecotrust

About the Indigenous Leadership Award
Since 2001, we have recognized 58 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. Through the generous support of a private endowment, we award a monetary prize to each honoree. Each year, nominated individuals from Alaska to California are forwarded by a reading panel of Ecotrust staff and indigenous leaders to a final jury panel of senior tribal leaders and Ecotrust board chairman and founder, Spencer B. Beebe. More about the ILA at

About the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)
The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) is celebrating 40 years of service, sustaining tradition for the Portland-area Native American community. NAYA impacts the lives of more than 9,000 individuals each year through youth and adult education, family support, Elder involvement, and advocacy, all delivered through a cultural lens.