The Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership in Conservation

Call for Nominations
Written by Elizabeth Woody

Dear invited nominators and potential nominators: It is our hope you will participate in the next round of nominations. Nominators of last year, thank you for your interest, and participation in the inaugural year of the Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership in Conservation. Overall, the Buffett Award highlights the important work of indigenous leaders throughout the bioregion, enhances this network, and expands understanding and commitment from within the Ecotrust family to Native American and First Nations communities. We are writing now to ask for your continued involvement, and ask you to submit a nomination for the coming year, and/or send us a recommendation of someone we should contact for a nomination. Our revamped guidelines and timelines are posted at: deadline is July 31, 2002, and we are asking that you nominate or relay this information to someone who will. The geographical boundaries extend from San Francisco to Kodiak Island, and we will consider those individuals from the interior as long salmon roam or once roamed in their rivers. There are documents here you may use to submit (see bottom of page).

The beginning of the program yielded 18 nominations from people who took considerable time and care to submit nominations. We created a panel of nine readers from the Ecotrust family; field staff who work in Vancouver, Ilwaco; and Portland headquarters, but also those from the remotest locations of the rainforest. Their focus on the needs and challenges of indigenous communities and attention to the specific values carried over from Ecotrust's interest in indigenous communities. This process served us well in expansion of staff involvement and integrated thinking. They brought to the Vancouver, BC meeting their top five candidates fully prepared to champion each. It was a long day of discussion, and refinement of the program through their expert and critical experiences.

The five finalists for the 2001 Buffett Award:

Phillip Cash Cash
Photo by Alyce Sadongei

Wáaqo' 'ew'néhpint'e keyóx hishaplatíisha Kí'u 'íinim héeshinpa kaa tim'néepe 'íinim titooqatimtkí "Now, I am bringing forward that which is blooming like flowers here in my breath and in my heart-my indigenous language." - Phillip Cash Cash (Cayuse/Nez Perce)
Susan Burdick
Photo by Howard Silverman
"I am living as a traditional Yurok woman should live, doing what I should be doing; taking care of our precious elders, guiding and teaching the children about being Indian in this part of the country." - Susan Burdick (Yurok)
Dave Hatch
Photo by Peter Hatch
"The ocean we see today is not the healthy ocean which belongs here." - Dave Hatch (Siletz/Aleut)
Dennis Martinez
Photo by Judith Vergun
"There is no Indian word for wilderness because there was no wilderness." - Dennis Martinez (O'odham/Hispanic)
Hilistis Pauline Waterfall
Photo by Les Jones
"The boundary of our traditional home extends to those parts over which we have been stewards since we first came here." - Hilistis Pauline Waterfall (Heiltsuk)

The five final jurists, Gerald Amos (Haisla from Kitamat, BC), Dalee Sambo Dorough (Inupiaq from Anchorage), Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (Haida from Vancouver), Alan Parker (Chippewa-Cree from Olympia) and Spencer B. Beebe, met to review the five finalist packets. It was a focused day's discussion. These indigenous leaders brought with them a great sense of duty and decades of experience. They also are familiar with the long-term involvement of Ecotrust to indigenous communities from the Kitlope co-management agreement between the Haisla and the government, to the most recent commitment of the purchase of the Koeye Lodge for the Heiltsuk and Oweekeno First Nations. The result of the panel was selection of Phil Cash Cash from a sense of the critical importance language preservation is to both cultural and environmental restoration. Phillip's nomination spoke of his extraordinary depth of academic and research excellence, and the intimate relationship between Phillip and tribal youth, elders, and leadership of the Umatilla Confederated Tribes of Oregon.

In giving recognition to a mid-career visionary, the awards ceremony was an opportunity to express our admiration, gratitude, and honor all of the five finalists in ways that highlight their own efforts, and discover ways in which Ecotrust might additionally support them. At the awards dinner, Peter Buffett presented the $25,000 award to Phil Cash Cash. Ecotrust showcased the four finalists in a power point slide show to an audience of 125 people. Phil Cash Cash presented his ongoing work. There has been a continuous flow of articles in local, regional and Native news media on the finalists. Most importantly, Ecotrust is committed to the ongoing support and network of the four remaining finalists, as well. Please, let us know your thoughts and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.

You can contact Elizabeth Woody at:

Attention: Elizabeth Woody, Special Advisor
c/o Ecotrust
721 NW 9th, Suite 200
Portland, Oregon
Direct Line: (503) 467-0751
Voice Mail: (503) 227-6225
Fax: (503) 222-1517
Web site: