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2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

The 3rd Annual Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors Jeannette Armstrong

Jeannette Armstrong
Jeannette Armstrong (Photo © Barlow/Center for Ecoliteracy)

The 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award (formerly the Buffett Award) was presented to Jeannette Armstrong during a ceremony at Ecotrust's Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon on December 2, 2003. Four other finalists were also honored for their achievements: Billy Frank, Jr., Olympia, Washington; Susan Masten, Hoopa, California; Nathan Matthew, Barriere, British Columbia, Canada; and Agnes Pilgrim, Grants Pass, Oregon.

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.

Jeannette Armstrong is honored as the recipient of the 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for her work as a community leader, educator and indigenous rights activist. Armstrong will use the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award's $25,000 fellowship to restore the land surrounding the En'owkin Centre through the replanting of native and traditional medicine plants.

"Jeannette Armstrong is a recognized leader in national and international arenas, but remains largely unsung for her multiple gifts shared through her community and family," said Spencer B. Beebe, President of Ecotrust, on behalf of the final jury panel. "She is well grounded and assures us a legacy to last beyond our lifetime. In addition, the En'owkin Centre where she works represents the best of native intelligence informed by a generational legacy."

Armstrong currently serves as Executive Director of the En'owkin Centre, an indigenous cultural, educational, ecological and creative arts post-secondary institution located in the Penticton Reserve in British Columbia, Canada. She also serves as consultant to many environmental and social change organizations.

"We have enjoyed a rich and meaningful working partnership with Jeannette for over ten years," said Zenobia Barlow, Executive Director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California. "And we recognize in Jeannette a person whose vision is of great value to Native and non-Native communities throughout the Americas and across the world."

Billy Frank, Jr. is honored as a finalist for his Pacific Northwest fisheries conservation work, indigenous rights advocacy and exceptional leadership abilities. He has chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for twenty-five years. Frank is also the recipient of the 1992 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the 1990 Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award for Humanitarian Achievement. He is a member of the Nisqually Tribe.

A member of the Yurok Tribe, Susan Masten is honored as a finalist for her work advocating the legal and human rights of indigenous communities on a local, state and national level. She serves on the Indian Law Resource Center Board of Directors and is a former President of the National Congress of American Indians. Masten is currently the Yurok Tribal Chairperson.

Chief Nathan Matthew is honored as a finalist for his work advancing the social, economic, educational and environmental conditions of the Secwepemc people. He is now in his third term as Chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. Under Chief Matthew's leadership, the first Aboriginal Education Improvement Agreement was developed and implemented in the province of British Columbia.

A member of the Oregon Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Agnes Pilgrim is honored as a finalist for her cultural preservation efforts, environmental advocacy and work with Native American youth. She has been involved with the Konaway Nika Tillicum Native American Youth Academy at Southern Oregon University since its inception. Pilgrim also serves on the Board of Directors of the Table Rock Foundation in Grants Pass, Oregon.

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 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award consisted of Gerald Amos (Haisla), Dalee Sambo Dorough (Inupiaq), Antone Minthorn (Cayuse), Alan Parker (Chippewa-Cree), Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (Haida), and Spencer Beebe.

Kelly Brown was 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. The other four finalists honored in 2002 were: Carol Craig, Toppenish, Washington; Kathleen Shaye Hill, Eureka, California; Robert Sam, Sitka, Alaska; and John D. Ward, Atlin, British Columbia.

In December 2001, the first Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award in Conservation 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 2001 finalists 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.


2003 Honorees

Jeannette Armstrong

Billy Frank, Jr.

Susan Masten

Chief Nathan Matthew

Agnes Pilgrim


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


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