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2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

The 5th Annual Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Honors W. Ron Allen

Agnes Pilgrim, Phil Cash Cash
Chariman W. Ron Allen

Portland, OR (November 10, 2005) - The 2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award (formerly the Buffett Award) will be presented to Chairman W. Ron Allen (Jamestown S'Kallam) during a ceremony at Ecotrust's Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon on November 30, 2005. Four other finalists will also be honored for their achievements: Robi Michelle Craig (Kiks.adi Clan) Sitka, Alaska; Leaf Hillman (Karuk) Orleans, California; Chief Robert Pasco (Nlaka'pamux), Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada and Chairman Shawn Yanity (Stillaguamish), Arlington, 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. This year, the $25,000 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award goes to Chairman W. Ron Allen of Sequim, Washington. 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.

Chairman W. Ron Allen is honored as the recipient of the 2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for his work in the fields of tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and governmental responsibilities at both the regional and national level. He has also worked with great vision and dedication to advance the political, cultural, and economic interests of the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe. Since 1977, Allen has served as Tribal Chairman and since 1982 as Executive Director of the Tribe.

"Nation building, exemplified by leaders like Chairman Ron Allen, is crucial for indigenous peoples," said Spencer B. Beebe, President of Ecotrust, on behalf of the Final Jury Panel. "Chairman Allen is a formidable negotiator, diplomat, and unwavering champion of tribal sovereignty."

2005 Buffett Award reading panel
2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award reading panel

Chairman Allen's regional and national leadership spans several decades of contribution and dedication. For over 15 years, he has served the National Congress of American Indians in a number of leadership positions including President. Chairman Allen has also served as a long-term representative on numerous tribal governance organizations such as the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Washington Indian Gaming Association, Point No Point Treaty Council, Pacific Salmon Commission and the Washington Coalition for Self Reliance.

Chairman Allen plans to use part of the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award to offset the costs associated with his efforts to help the National Congress of American Indians advance its Embassy of Tribal Nations Capital Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to purchase a facility that will provide tribal people from around the country and world a permanent presence and working space in Washington, D.C.

Robi Michelle Craig is honored as a 2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award finalist for her efforts to improve the cultural, social, environmental and economic conditions of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska respects Craig's innovative leadership and sensitive treatment of traditional Native knowledge. She currently serves as the Tribal Deputy General Manager and was the Tribal Anthropologist from 1996 to 2001. Craig is presently working on the Sockeye Salmon Traditional Ecological Knowledge project.

Leaf Hillman is honored as a 2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award finalist for his grassroots efforts to restore Klamath River salmon habitat, protect sacred sites and build the capacity of the Karuk Tribal government. Hillman has served as Vice-Chairman of the Karuk Tribal Council since 2002, and previously was the Karuk Department of Natural Resources Director. Hillman is currently the Steering Committee Chair for the Bring the Salmon Home Campaign that seeks to remove four Klamath River Dams.

Chief Robert Pasco is honored as a 2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Finalist for his contributions to the improvement of Nlaka'pamux Nation social, political, economic and environmental conditions. He has served as Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council Chair for over twenty years. Chief Pasco has also served as a presenter and educator on matters including community planning, sovereignty and jurisdiction, fishing, education and language.

Chairman Shawn Yanity is honored as a 2005 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award Finalist for his leadership in the areas of intergovernmental cooperation, community development and conservation. Chairman Yanity has also helped improve the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indian's economic development opportunities and served as a catalyst for positive change in the natural resource management area. In May 2004, the Stillaguamish elected him as Tribal Chairman and he also serves as the Tribal Fisheries Manager.

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 2005 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 November 2004, Howard and Peter Buffett announced their intention to endow Ecotrust's Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award. The brothers plan to donate $500,000 over five years for the endowment fund.

Clarence Alexander (Dranjik Gwich'in) from Fort Yukon, Alaska received 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. Four other finalists were honored in 2004 for their achievements: Ivan Jackson, Sr. (Klamath/Modoc), Klamath Falls, Oregon; Sarah James (Neetsaii Gwich'in), Arctic Village, Alaska; Teri Rofkar (Tlingit), Sitka, Alaska and Terry Williams (Tulalip), Marysville, Washington.

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 finalists were: David Hatch (Siletz), Portland, Oregon; Susan Burdick (Yurok), Salyer, California; Dennis Martinez (Tohono O'Oodham), Douglas City, California and Pauline Waterfall (Heiltsuk), Bella Bella, B.C., Canada.

In addition to the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award, Ecotrust provides a variety of other projects and services through its Indigenous Affairs Program. In collaboration with the Klamath Tribes, Ecotrust published Klamath Heartlands: A Guide to the Klamath Reservation Forest Plan. Additional projects include land repatriation, native youth leadership, wild salmon marketing, and supporting the Elakha Alliance.

Ecotrust is a non-profit organization committed to strengthening communities and the environment from Alaska to California.

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2005 Honorees

W. Ron Allen

Robi Michelle Craig

Leaf Hillman

Chief Robert Pasco

Shawn Yanity


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


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