New cohort of top leaders chosen for Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award
Release Date: 07-24-2012

PORTLAND, ORE. — Five forward-looking tribal leaders from across Western North America were chosen today as finalists for the prestigious Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award.

They are:

  • Brian Cladoosby, Swinomish, La Conner, WA
  • Gail Small, Northern Cheyenne, Lame Deer, MT
  • Jonathan Andrew Waterhouse, S’Klallam-Chippewa-Cree, Anchorage, AK
  • Micah McCarty, Makah, Neah Bay, WA
  • Patience Andersen Faulkner, Chugach Eskimo, Cordova, AK

“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 communities throughout the West. 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, 2012 at the Portland Art Museum. Find more details on the award ceremony here:

More about each finalist follows:

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.

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.

Jonathan Andrew Waterhouse

Waterhouse has tirelessly worked to restore the Yukon River Watershed. Among his many roles, Waterhouse 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 Makah Nation by serving as a liaison between indigenous communities and the broader political system. 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 whaling rights, and has fostered stronger connections between tribal nations and U.S. governments. McCarty’s leadership on the Puget Sound Partnership brings deep traditional knowledge to a 21st-century effort to clean up the sound.

Patience Andersen Faulkner

Faulkner, a community organizer and traditional crafts teacher, is honored for her fostering of native culture and community health in her hometown of Cordova, Alaska. She has 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 bear down on Cordova and similar communities around the country — as they have in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the 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.


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. For more than 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $80 million in grants into more than $500 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 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

About Ecotrust’s Indigenous Leadership Award
Since 2001, Ecotrust’s Indigenous Leadership Award has recognized 48 of the nation’s top tribal leaders for their dedication to their culture and their work to improve the economic and environmental conditions of their homelands and people. At an annual ceremony celebrating these leaders, Ecotrust presents $25,000 to one awardee and $5,000 each to four other honorees, to further their mission in strengthening their communities. Learn more at