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2009 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Awardee: James Manion

James Manion

"From being involved with many different groups and organizations
 both on- and off-reservation, Jim has the capacity to have dialogue and exchange ideas and information with a vast variety of people."
     —Ed Manion, Jim's father

James Manion is the honored recipient of the 2009 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for his work representing the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs (CTWS) as General Manager of Warm Springs Power Enterprises and Chair of the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC). Jim has, throughout his career, focused his dedication to improving the Tribe’s economic, political, and environmental strength through creative leadership, managerial skills, and open form of communication.

Jim Manion is the third of six children born of Ed and Urbana Manion. He is of Wasco descent, one of the three distinct tribes that make up the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. He has worked for Warm Springs Power Enterprises since its inception in 1981, and has been the General Manager since 1986. Through this responsibility, he manages the Tribe’s interest in the largest hydroelectric project within Oregon — the Pelton-Round Butte Hydroelectric Project.

Jim Manion was responsible for negotiating with Portland General Electric (PGE) for joint ownership of the Project — an unprecedented negotiation in Indian country. Through this process, Jim led a tribal effort to prepare a license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which provided more substantial tribal vision for the Project, including more focus on environmental mitigation, fish and wildlife usage.

Through several layers of arduous, multi-party negotiations, restoration of fish passage above the Project was included in a long-term settlement agreement, ultimately securing $125 million in mitigation and enhancement funding to achieve this goal. Jim Manion’s leadership, and capacity to bridge cultural divides was significant in guiding this process, ultimately resulting in a source of renewable energy for the region, economic support for the Tribe, and improvement of environmental conditions from an earlier constructed Project that had more substantial environmental costs associated with it.

As a tribal member that grew up on the Reservation, his knowledge of tradition and tribal culture, mixed with contemporary business management capacity and skills, results in Jim Manion having unique vision for balancing economic development, natural resource protection, and cultural preservation.

This unique leadership, though, is also outward facing to the entire Deschutes basin. The idea for the Deschutes River Conservancy came out of the Warm Springs Reservation, and as Chair of the DRC, Jim guides a diverse group of individuals from State, local, and federal agencies, as well as NGOs and private interests to make decisions that benefit the health of the Deschutes River Basin.

In addition, he has served on the local school board, and created new opportunities for tribal access to credit through the Warm Springs Credit Enterprises Board of Directors. Jim and his wife Donna have three children, and he continues to seek long-term solutions to community economic, energy, and environmental challenges through creative thinking and collaboration with partners.


2009 Honorees

Janeen Comenote

James Manion

Allen Pinkham, Sr.

A. Brian Wallace

Patricia L. Whitefoot



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


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