ecotrust logo

2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Honoree: Sarah James

Sarah James
Sarah James - Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (196k JPG)

"At times, the state of the world may appear overwhelming. We must always remember our successes to help us stay strong and never give up. We must speak with one voice and we must make a strong stand and believe that we can accomplish what ever we set out to do."
—Sarah James

The 2004 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award honors Sarah James as a finalist for her indigenous rights advocacy and ongoing contributions to the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. James has proven that an individual has the power to change the world through direct communication and grassroots leadership. She is Neetsaii Gwich'in and lives in Arctic Village, Alaska.

As a spokesperson and board member of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, James works to protect the Porcupine Caribou Herd's birthing grounds on the coastal plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Oil drilling or any other large-scale land disturbing enterprise would have a major impact on the health and welfare of the region's indigenous peoples, caribou and other natural resources upon which the tribes depend. Her efforts help protect the land-based cultural livelihood of people throughout the region.

James also communicates passionately on environmental issues and human rights in national and international forums. Since 1989, she has served on the board of the International Indian Treaty Council that addresses human rights violations against indigenous peoples. James has also served on the EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Indigenous Peoples Subcommittee since 1996. The subcommittee advises the EPA on development of federal legislation and policy to secure environmental justice for indigenous peoples.

Since 1998, James has served as an advisor to the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. She also serves on the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments. The Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government previously employed James as an environmental technician.

Conferences across the country ask Sarah to speak and participate on panels. She has addressed international gatherings that include the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil and the First International Summit for Indigenous People in Guatemala. CNN, McNeil-Lehrer News Hour and ABC World News Tonight all have interviewed James. Sarah James has received a Bannerman Fellowship, Ford Foundation Fellowship and the Goldman Environmental Prize.


2004 Honorees

Clarence Alexander

Ivan Jackson, Sr.

Sarah James

Teri Rofkar

Terry Williams


Learn More

About Sarah James:

Sarah James, Gwich'in activist and environmental prizewinner, answers Grist's questions
Grist, December 11, 2006


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
Download vCard

Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


Copyright © 2013 Ecotrust