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2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

The 4th Annual Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors Clarence Alexander

Clarence Alexander
Clarence Alexander

Portland, OR (November 6, 2004) - The 2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award (formerly the Buffett Award) will be presented to Clarence Alexander (Dranjik Gwich'n) during a ceremony at Ecotrust's Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon on November 30, 2004. Four other finalists will also be honored for their achievements: Ivan Jackson, Sr. (Klamath/Modoc), Klamath Falls, Oregon; Sarah James (Neetsaii Gwich'n), Arctic Village, Alaska; Teri Rofkar (Tlingit), Sitka, Alaska and Terry Williams (Tulalip Tribes), Marysville, Washington.

Supported by the families of Howard and Peter Buffett, the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award recognizes indigenous leadership that improves the social, economic, political or environmental conditions in his or her community. This year, the $25,000 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award goes to Clarence Alexander of Fort Yukon, Alaska. The Award's intent is to provide resources for the development and transfer of knowledge in indigenous communities. The four other finalists will each receive a $5,000 cash award.

Clarence Alexander is honored as the recipient of the 2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for his many years of work advocating for environmental justice, tribal rights and protection of the Yukon River Watershed. He is a respected leader with indigenous values, strong coalition building skills and extraordinary vision.

2004 Buffett Award ceremony blanket
Elizabeth Woody presents a blanket to Honoree Teri Rofkar during the 2004 Ceremony.

Clarence Alexander has defended his traditional subsistence economy of abundance from the threats of globalization. The leadership he embodies is the demonstrable strength of Indigenous knowledge, cultural values and vision honed through thousands of years of knowing the land and its systems intimately," said Spencer B. Beebe, President of Ecotrust, on behalf of the Final Jury Panel. "Clarence represents the best of effective tactical genius and collaborative governance while bettering community health, keeping intact native food systems, restoring the purity of water through clean up of human and military wastes, recycling, and international resistance to oil development."

Alexander is co-founder of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. He is chairman of the Gwichyaa Zhee Corporation and a former Grand Chief of the Gwich'n peoples. Alexander worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for twenty years. He is currently working on a Gwich'n Athabascan-English dictionary.

Ivan Jackson, Sr. is honored as a finalist for his efforts to keep alive the cultural traditions of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin people. He makes traditional tools, clothing, weapons, shelters and basketry for use in demonstrations and interpretive displays. Jackson's creative technical applications of traditional knowledge provide the Tribes a culturally grounded presence for their restoration process.

Sarah James is honored as a finalist for her national and international work on indigenous rights, environmental issues and human rights. As a spokesperson for the Gwich’in Steering Committee, James has made important contributions to the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She serves as an advisor to the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. James also serves on the EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Indigenous Peoples Subcommittee.

Teri Rofkar is honored as a finalist for her efforts to preserve the Tlingit's ancient art of weaving and basketry. Her artwork serves as a link in sustaining indigenous culture in a modern context. She is an artist-in residence at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center. In 2003, Rofkar traveled to east coast museums as part of a National Museum of the American Indian fellowship.

Terry Williams is honored as a finalist for his leadership in natural resource and environmental management. Williams serves as a Fisheries and Natural Resources Commissioner for the Tulalip Tribes. He also serves on the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. From 1995 to 1996, Williams was director of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency American Indian Environmental Office.

Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award nominees are First Nation, Alaska Native or tribal members over 35 years of age who exhibit extraordinary community leadership within the Salmon Nation region from Alaska to California. The Final Jury Panel for the 2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award consisted of Gerald Amos (Haisla), Dalee Sambo Dorough (Inupiaq), Antone Minthorn (Cayuse), Alan Parker (Chippewa-Cree), Leah George Wilson (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) and Ecotrust President Spencer Beebe.

In 2003, Jeannette Armstrong (Okanagan) from Penticton, British Columbia received the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for her work as a community leader, educator and indigenous rights activist. Four other finalists were also honored for their achievements: Billy Frank, Jr. (Nisqually), Olympia, Washington; Susan Masten (Yurok), Hoopa, California; Nathan Matthew (Shuswap), Barriere, B.C., Canada and Agnes Pilgrim (Siletz), Grants Pass, Oregon.

Kelly Brown (Heiltsuk) of Bella Bella, British Columbia received 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 (Yakama), Toppenish, Washington; Kathleen Shaye Hill (Klamath), Eureka, California; Robert Sam (Tlingit), Sitka, Alaska and John D. Ward (Taku River Tlingit), Atlin, B.C., Canada.

Phillip Cash Cash (Nez Perce/Cayuse) of Oregon received the first Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award in 2001 for his language preservation work. The four other finalists were: David Hatch (Siletz), Portland, Oregon; Susan Burdick (Yurok), Salyer, California; Dennis Martinez (Tohono O'dham), Douglas City, California and Pauline Waterfall (Heiltsuk), Bella Bella, B.C., Canada.


2004 Honorees

Clarence Alexander

Ivan Jackson, Sr.

Sarah James

Teri Rofkar

Terry Williams


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


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