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2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Honoree: Susan Masten

Susan Masten
Susan Masten (Photo courtesy Northwest Indian Fish Commission) Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (4.6mb TIF)

"I'm a firm believer that when you have capabilities as individuals or organizations, you have the responsibilities to be a part of making your communities healthier and more prosperous."
—Susan Masten

Susan Masten is honored as a finalist for the 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for her work advocating the legal and human rights of indigenous communities on a local, state and national level over the past 25 years. She is the Yurok Tribal Chairperson and lives in Hoopa along the Northern California coast.

Masten has served as co-chair of the National Trust Reform Task Force. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Indian Law Resource Center. Masten has given more than 100 keynote addresses and presentations to numerous organizations including the University of Oregon's Environmental Racism Conference, National Indian Education Association and President Clinton's Digital Divide Roundtable.

While serving as president of the National Congress of American Indians, Masten advocated for Native Americans on a variety of issues including energy, natural resource management, housing and sovereignty protection. Masten also served as the National Congress of American Indians First-Vice President from 1994 to 1996.

Masten attended college at Oregon State University and was elected one of the original presidents of the Native American Student Association. After graduation, she returned to California and worked for United Indian Development Association as a promotion and marketing specialist.

Masten then returned to the Yurok reservation and helped to secure the tribe's "not less than fifty percent of harvest" of salmon on the Klamath River. From 1988 to 1991, she served as a Yurok Transition Team Member to implement the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act. Masten also served on the Intertribal Monitoring Association on Indian Trust Funds from 1991 to 2002, and the Yurok Interim Tribal Council from 1991 to 1992. She has been Tribal Chair since 1997.

For the past twenty-seven years, Masten has served as the master of ceremonies at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. She has also served as Klamath Chamber of Commerce President and chair of the Klamath River Traditional Indian Fishers Committee. Masten is active in traditional Yurok practices including fishing on the Klamath River and is responsible for the care of the family's ceremonial regalia.


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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