North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange 2013

NACELE 2013, held in the Capay Valley of California, 14–17 October 2013, was a highly successful two-part event on the theme From Conflict to Collaboration in Indigenous Territories: Tribal Strategies for Resistance and Restoration. Led by the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) under the auspices of the Global Environments Network in partnership with The Cultural Conservancy, the workshop convened 30 dynamic Indigenous leaders from all over North America to discuss ongoing actions to protect and restore lands, waters and traditional foodways, and through these, culture and sovereignty, including representatives of Eat Your Heritage, a Guamanian movement for cultural revitalisation through food sovereignty.

Excursions to the Yocha Dehe Tribal Nation’s olive oil press and Cache Creek Conservancy complemented in-depth discussions on the workshop theme. The results of the 4-day workshop were presented at a participant-led panel, “From Conflict to Collaboration: Tribal Strategies for Resistance and Restoration” as part of the Indigeneity Program of the 2013 Bioneers meeting.

“In addition to knowledge sharing and cross-mentoring, participants reported feeling strongly supported and energised by the workshop, finding connections and allies in their work.”

Indigenous academics received strong affirmation from practitioners and tribal government members for their work to indigenise the academy, while Indigenous governance officials and environmental practitioners and activists appreciated affirmation of their hard-fought gains and the fruits of connecting with one another to exchange expertise and technical and cultural knowledge. Younger participants heard how critical their energy, skills and ideas were to native communities, made mentoring and networking connections and received encouragement to continue their bridging work and activism in law, ecology, food sovereignty, media and the arts.

Resource people Susannah McCandless (Global Diversity Foundation), Melissa Nelson (The Cultural Conservancy), Darcie Houck (GESA alumna, 2012), Octaviana Trujillo (Northern Arizona University; GESA Resource person 2011), and Robin Marsh (UC Berkeley) co-organised NACELE 2013 with assistance from Kaylena Bray (GESA alumna, 2013) and Inanc Tekguc (GESA alumnus, 2011).

NACELE 2013 received support from a Switzer Foundation Innovation Grant, The Christensen Fund, The Cultural Conservancy and Bioneers, in addition to GDF’s Global Environments Summer Academy Alumni Innovation Fund.