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2002 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

The 2nd Annual Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors Kelly Brown

2002 Buffett Awardee Kelly Brown
Peter Buffett presents the 2002 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award to Kelly Brown for his work as a negotiator, planner and educator in the areas of cultural restoration and conservation.

The 2002 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award (formerly the Buffett Award) was presented to Kelly Brown during a ceremony at Ecotrust's Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon on November 13, 2002. Four other finalists were also be honored for their achievements: Carol Craig, Toppenish, Washington; Kathleen Shaye Hill, Eureka, California; Robert Sam, Sitka, Alaska; and John D. Ward, Atlin, British Columbia.

The Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award honors Native leaders of merit in the fields of conservation and community development. Supported by the families of Howard and Peter Buffett, the award is conferred by Ecotrust on an individual whose leadership has improved the social, economic, political or environmental conditions in their community.

"Kelly Brown epitomizes the kind of leadership we feel so honored to be able to support," said Spencer B. Beebe, Ecotrust President. "His extraordinary track record working with the hereditary leadership, the Elders, and youth, and sharing the Heiltsuk experience with the Ainu across the Pacific in Japan are wonderful examples to us all."

2002 Buffett Award honorees
2002 honorees (left to right): Robert Sam, Carol Craig, Kathleen Shaye Hill, John Ward and award recipient Kelly Brown.

Kelly Brown is honored as the recipient of the 2002 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for his work as a negotiator, planner and educator in the areas of cultural restoration and conservation. Brown will use the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award's $25,000 fellowship to continue his work on Aboriginal title issues and enrich his professional accreditation in Aboriginal Law.

"As recipient of the 2002 Buffet Award for Indigenous Leadership, I am very honored to be bestowed this prestigious award," said Kelly Brown. "I accept this award on behalf of the Heiltsuk Nation and in particular, my family. Without their support, this work I do would not be possible."

For six years, Brown worked as a Senior Negotiator for the Heiltsuk Tribal Council where he participated in treaty negotiations with the province of British Columbia and the federal government of Canada. Over the past year, he has dedicated much of his time to developing a Heiltsuk-led cedar protection strategy. Brown is a member of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and resides in Waglisla (known as Bella Bella) on the central coast of British Columbia

Kelly Brown performing
Kelly Brown (above, right) and his family performed a traditional dance at the award ceremony..

"Kelly Brown exemplifies the remarkable leadership that has always existed in our First Nations communities. Kelly serves as a bridge between the teachings of his elders and the aspirations of Indigenous Peoples whose culture and self-determination is resurgent all along the coast," said Ian Gill, Ecotrust Canada President. "In his work to build a better future for his own community, Kelly is leading us all towards a civil society that is continuously improving its social equity, ecological integrity and economic opportunities."

Carol Craig is honored as a finalist for her work educating the public about tribal treaty rights. She is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, Society of Environmental Journalists and National Federation of Press Women. Craig is a Yakama tribal member.

Kathleen Shaye Hill is honored as a finalist for her role in getting the Klamath Tribes' trust status restored in 1986 and her continued efforts for the return of Klamath tribal lands. She served as the first Tribal Office Director for EPA's Region 10 office in Seattle and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Native American Studies Department of Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. Hill is a member of the Klamath Tribes of Oregon.

A member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Robert Sam is honored as a finalist for his work involving repatriation of human remains as well as his efforts in preserving traditional Tlingit culture. Sam is currently assisting a Sitka clan in attaining human remains presently held by the National Park Service. He also provides his time to national and international forums regarding sacred sites and traditional Tlingit culture.

John Ward is honored as a finalist for his leadership in protecting the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) traditional territory as well as his watershed planning and salmon conservation efforts. Ward's work on the Tulsequah Chief Project Environmental Assessment and subsequent court challenges helped the TRTFN oppose the Tulsequah Chief Mine and its 99-mile access road through their territory. He serves as the Spokesperson for the TRTFN.

Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award nominees are First Nation or tribal members over 35 years of age. The nominees all work within the coastal temperate rain forest bioregion from San Francisco, California to Kodiak Island, Alaska or the Northwest interior (which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia). The final jury panel for the 2002 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award consisted of Gerald Amos (Haisla), Dalee Sambo Dorough (Inupiaq), Antone Minthorn (Umatilla), Alan Parker (Chippewa-Cree), Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (Haida), and Spencer Beebe.

In December 2001, the first Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award was presented to Phillip Cash Cash of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon for his language preservation work. The four other finalists honored last year were: David Hatch, Portland, Oregon; Susan Burdick, Salyer, California; Dennis Martinez, Douglas City, California; and Hilistis Pauline Waterfall, Bella Bella, British Columbia, Canada.

The families of Howard and Peter Buffett provide financial support for the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award. A wildlife photographer and businessman, U.S. philanthropist Howard Buffett actively supports numerous conservation efforts in this country. Musician Peter Buffett has a long-standing interest in indigenous rights. Working with Ecotrust and Ecotrust Canada, the Buffett brothers assisted the First Nations of British Columbia to repatriate a strategic parcel of land in the spectacular 50,000 acre Koeye river watershed.

Ecotrust is a non-profit organization working on conservation and economic development in the greater Pacific northwest, from San Francisco to Alaska. Information on Ecotrust Canada can be found at www.ecotrust.ca.


2002 Honorees

Kelly Brown

Carol Craig

Kathleen Shaye Hill

Robert Sam

John Ward


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
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Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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