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.