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2009 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Finalist: Janeen Comenote

Janeen Comenote

Janeen Comenote is a 2009 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award honoree for her continued leadership in improving the lives of urban Indian families in Seattle, and national guidance educating and informing others of the needs of urban indigenous people. Janeen lives in Seattle WA. She is Hesquiaht and Kwakiutl First Nation from her mother’s side and Oglala Lakota and enrolled Quinault from her father’s side. Born and raised in Seattle, the conditions facing urban Indians are familiar to her, as a child she spent a lot of time attending events at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. She has spent the last 10 years advocating for American Indians/Alaska Native who live off reservations and endeavoring to provide a voice to this often “silent majority” in Indian Country.

For the last 12 years Janeen has been employed by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation (UIATF) in Seattle, WA in a variety of positions spanning street youth counseling, Indian Child Welfare advocacy, foster home licensing, poverty reduction/research, local coalition building and currently, development. She is also a founding member and Director for the National Urban Indian Family Coalition.

In 2003, through her work with urban Indian families, she saw the need for urban Indian centers to find ways to collaborate to improve services to Native American children and families nationwide, prompting her to initiate the creation of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC). The NUIFC is a growing national coalition representing 24 urban Indian centers in 19 cities, several Native American organizations and more than 860,000 Native Americans living away from their traditional land base. The NUIFC is headquartered at the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in Seattle, WA.

Janeen is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Tomorrow, a regional leadership program, a 1999 alumni of the prestigious Americans for Indian Opportunity Ambassador program, is a Kellogg Fellow and was chosen and highlighted in the November 2008 edition of O magazine for her participation in Women Rule; 80 Women Who Could Change America, a joint project between the White House Project and Oprah magazine. As such she is also highlighted in Oprah Winfrey’s book Dream Big: O’s Guide to Discovering Your Best Life. In 2007, she was awarded the Fran James Cultural Preservation award by the Potlatch Fund.

Janeen presented urban Indian issues at the United Nation’s World Urban Forum, the Council on Foundations and the National Conference of State Legislatures. She is currently working towards bridging urban Indigenous peoples in Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand and has been invited to present at the 2010 U.N. World Urban Forum in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Additionally, she has been a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Seattle, worked on several documentary films and written a screenplay. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Washington State Children’s Alliance, Washington Indian Civil Rights Commission and the Chief Seattle Club.


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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