At a Gathering last week of Alaska Native leaders and funders, the Alaska Conservation Foundation in partnership with the Alaska Native Fund Steering Committee announced $125,000 would be awarded this year to Indigenous projects that protect land, water and way of life.
This announcement followed a recent statement by James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, calling for continued efforts to “resolve and strengthen the protection of Indigenous lands and resources.” In April, Anaya met with Alaska Native leaders in Anchorage to hear testimony on the increasing threats to Alaska Native rights to healthy land, water and the wildlife resources upon which they depend.
Several of these leaders attended the Gathering to discuss how Alaska Natives are adapting to environmental pressures in order to sustain their culture and communities. “Alaska Natives are stewards of this land and must be the voice of the future. In the twenty-first century, the needs from extractive industries will continue to grow and place greater importance on the need to maintain healthy habitats for the animals, birds and people that rely on them,” said Kim Williams, Alaska Native Fund Steering Committee member from Dillingham.
In 2011, the Alaska Native Fund was launched to provide funding for Alaska Native priorities for protecting the land, water and wildlife integral to their way of life, and recognize the knowledge and solutions contributed by Alaska Natives to environmental issues. Last December, the Fund awarded $100,000 to nine Alaska Native organizations working to sustain subsistence activities, develop Tribally-driven management plans, promote sustainable economic development and protect resources vital to rural communities.
“The Alaska Native Fund recognizes the integral connection between people that rely on wild renewable resources for food and the need to protect and sustain those resources. It empowers those who are on the front lines fighting to preserve a way of life for future generations,” said Heather Kendall-Miller, Senior Staff Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund and thought leader for the Alaska Native Fund.
For the Alaska Conservation Foundation, the Fund supports the nonprofit’s mission to sustain communities, cultures and economies through a healthy environment. “We cannot achieve this mission without meaningful, respectful and sustainable partnerships with Alaska Native communities,” said Ann Rothe, Executive Director. “As the Fund enters its second year, it is an incredible opportunity to support our rural communities and promote enduring change.”
The Alaska Conservation Foundation is calling for initial Letters of Inquiry by July 15, 2012. Grants will be awarded in December 2012. Alaska Native individuals and nonprofits may apply. For more information and grant guidelines, visit the ACF website at www.alaskaconservation.org.