2001 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award
The Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors Phillip Cash Cash
The 2001 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award (formerly the Buffett Award) in Conservation was presented to Phillip Cash Cash at a joyous ceremony at Ecotrust's Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center on the evening of December 6, 2001. Phillip was honored for his language preservation work among the Sahaptian speaking peoples of the southern Columbia Plateau.
"I come here with a lot of respect," said Peter Buffett, presenting the award. "This is my simple gift for an incredible life of work behind you and, more importantly, ahead of you."
Phillip is currently fulfilling his doctoral requirements in the Joint Ph.D Program in Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Arizona. He is a Cayuse/Nez Perce tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon.
His presentation drew from his research on the Nez Perce language. "The diversity of the world's indigenous languages is vital to our human destiny. The facts concerning the current condition and state of the languages of this land have been studied and documented and the common finding is that our languages will soon disappear. Today, I will not reiterate these bleak conditions to you; rather I am here as a witness to reaffirm the beauty and power of language to transform our lives on a daily basis."
The Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award is supported by the families of Howard and Peter Buffett and honors Native leaders of merit in the fields of conservation and community development. Ecotrust hosted the five award finalists, friends and family in a reception that filled the Conference Center of the recently restored Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center.
"It's wonderful to my heart to know that people from all walks of life are taking an interest in the environment out there, in the water and the air," intoned Agnes Pilgrim, Matriarch of the Rogue River Takelma, in her closing address. "To those critters and beings that cannot speak, we are the voice. May you leave here and be the voice for the voiceless."