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Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau conservation advocates : Grand Canyon Trust

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Strengthening community-based, culturally appropriate projects in Native America

The values and core philosophies of Native American communities are centered on a deep respect for the land and its resources. Our Native America Program is dedicated to working with the tribal communities of the Colorado Plateau to improve economic conditions by strengthening sustainable development projects in a way that is consistent with these cultural values.

During the early 1930s, federal legislation mandated that tribes create government structures that were consistent with Western forms of government. As some tribes were adopting this new structure, outside entities recognized the economic potential to develop natural resources on tribal lands and presented them with proposals to extract these resources in exchange for economic development and jobs. These proposals became legal contracts to which the tribes were bound for years, and the land stewardship values upheld by tribes for thousands of years were not prioritized in the “new” Western-based decision-making process.

Today, tribal community members recognize how natural resource extraction left a devastating legacy, marked by depleted water levels, pollution, and myriad community health problems. They are now determined to find alternative solutions for sustainable economic development.

Proactive efforts to re-create green economies on tribal lands

There is a long history of outside developers and corporations coming to Indian Country promoting projects while promising jobs and prosperity. However, in reality, many of these corporations are not vested in the communities and are there only to make a profit. When they are done, they leave the community and take the jobs with them. For the last several decades, many tribes have found themselves in a constant battle to keep such developers off their lands while addressing the issue of high unemployment. In response, tribal people are taking more proactive steps to build their communities around the philosophies and values their ancestors have passed on for generations and re-create what is known today as a “green economy.”
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