New grant supports Tribal Marine Stewards Network
Release Date: 03-30-2023

Portland, Ore. — The Tribal Marine Stewards Network (TMSN) will be strengthened with a two-year grant of $300,000 from the Schmidt Family Foundation’s 11th Hour Project to accelerate TMSN’s growth and tribal partner capacity. The TMSN is a partnership of five tribes in California–Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, Resighini Rancheria, Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, and Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. In the two years since launching TMSN, the network has experienced a wide range of successes, working together to advance their respective visions for managing their homelands and waters. New funding from 11th Hour Project, in coordination with nonprofit partner Ecotrust, will help meet the gap between tribal partners’ capacity and the additional work required to propel the TMSN towards its intended vision and purpose. 

TMSN is dedicated to Indigenous-led management of ancestral lands and waters. Working together, the five partner tribes are carrying out monitoring projects on species important to the Tribes, leading cultural education and tribal science programs in their communities, and stewarding information repositories to safely house knowledge from their communities in the form of an Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge (ITK) Database. The two-year grant from 11th Hour Project supports hiring “catalysts,” contractors or staff members with technical expertise that complement current tribal capabilities. As Indigenous knowledge continues to be misunderstood by western science, these catalysts will bring an integrated approach to the work led by TMSN.

Sharing capacity via catalysts

The catalyst roles were defined after TMSN Tribes identified a need for additional support for tribal staff to continue developing internal capacity and accelerating the pace at which the TMSN implements its initiatives. Specifically:

  • The Marine Stewardship Catalyst will be a marine biologist specialist working alongside tribal knowledge holders to develop monitoring and research that addresses tribal priorities and aligns with tribal values. They will provide training to tribal staff to facilitate tribally led monitoring and stewardship activities. The Marine Stewardship Catalyst will work to bring a balanced approach to the monitoring and research carried out by the TMSN. 
  • The GIS Catalyst will work with tribal staff on identifying GIS needs and provide needed GIS training, act as an on-call resource to answer tribal staff questions, and collaborate as a map-maker on TMSN-related projects. TMSN Tribes are increasingly using GIS software as a tool to support data collection, landscape-scale stewardship, land acquisition, sacred site protection, and cultural and science education. By providing tailored and ongoing training to tribal staff, the GIS Catalyst will assist with building expertise within tribal departments. 
  • ITK Database Implementation Catalyst is responsible for aiding tribal partners as they launch, populate, and maintain a repository of contemporary and archival records from their communities. 

Recruiting for the Marine Stewardship Catalyst and GIS Catalyst is underway now until April 17, 2023 through Ecotrust. Having played a support role in TMSN since its creation in 2020, Ecotrust will assist with recruiting and coordinating the new catalysts, staffing the ITK Database Implementation Catalyst, and maintaining the Network Coordinator position, staffed by Tara Dettmar. The Network Coordinator position was initially funded by a grant with the California Ocean Protection Council through California Indian Environmental Alliance and is now funded by 11th Hour Project and the California Ocean Protection Council.

Funding a sovereignty-based approach

The new grant from 11th Hour Project, which previously supported the network’s strategy and governance planning efforts, follows the TMSN Tribes’ vision for growing the capacity of TMSN Tribes via parallel streams of support. Tribal partners have identified a direct-to-tribes funding approach, in which the State of California directly supports tribally led management, as their strategy for growth. This funding strategy furthers a sovereignty-based approach to co-management in which governmental funds support tribes directly, and foundation and nonprofit partners engage with the TMSN by providing additional support where state funding is not suited or aligned. 

“We support the culturally and environmentally sustaining work of the Tribal Marine Stewards Network and the visionary plans the Tribes collectively developed to sustain and promote co-management,” said Hester Dillon, Indigenous Communities Program Director of 11th Hour Project. “We are glad to provide support for this important work.”


About the Tribal Marine Stewards Network

The Tribal Marine Stewards Network is an alliance of Tribal Nations working collaboratively to protect and restore our coastal and marine ecosystems. By restoring our ecological resilience, we build economic, community, and cultural resilience for today and future generations. Learn more at

About Ecotrust

On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, Ecotrust works in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Learn more at