Indigenous Leadership: Ensuring a future
for Native Peoples, Cultures, and Lands

"[F]ive centuries of survival under the most excruciating pressure of killing diseases, wars, land expropriation, and official government policy—forced assimilation, then outright termination. Yet the tribes are now the strongest they have been in a century and a half. Never has this land seen such staying power." — Charles Wilkinson, Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations

Faced with near-constant threats on their sovereignty, cultures, and ways of life, in addition to the theft of their lands and waters, Indigenous leaders through the ages have guided their communities and dedicated themselves to ensuring their collective future. The work and impact of tribal leaders are models of vision and courage.

To inform audiences about the achievements and impact of Indigenous leadership and leaders, the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Program organized a series of educational briefings that examine the theme Indigenous Leadership: Ensuring a Future for Native Peoples, Cultures, and Lands.

“I was repeatedly struck by the pride [tribal leaders] have in their tribes and cultures. I also saw people who were open to showing emotions and appreciate that aspect of it. I also really enjoyed watching the respect and in some cases reverence they have for each other. They share knowledge and power with each other in a way white culture (which is what I come from) usually does not. They also know their culture and history in a way that I as a white person don’t – and they know laws and regulations in this country better than I do. These presentations have made me think hard about my privilege.” – Briefing attendee

2021-22 Indigenous Leadership Briefings series

Through a series of four hour-long, online gatherings eight tribal leaders from across the Pacific Northwest provided the historical context of issues tribal communities have confronted over time and the ways Native leaders responded. Attendees learned 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.

December 15
Negotiating a Future: Indigenous leadership through the ages
Speakers: Roberta (Bobbie) Conner (Nez Perce/Cayuse) and W. Ron Allen (Jamestown S’Klallam)

January 19
Termination: The attempt to destroy and the rebuilding of the Siletz Tribes
Speakers: Ed Ben (Siletz) and Bud Lane (Siletz)

February 16
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act: Impacts on Alaska Native communities
Speakers: Joe Nelson (Tlingit) and Nicole Borromeo (Athabaskan)

March 16
Breaking the Chains: Transformative federal legislation and Tribal peoples
Speakers: Robert (Bob) Miller (Eastern Shawnee) and David Tovey (Cayuse/Joseph Band Nez Perce)