Our Programs

Stewarding Native Lands

Program Overview

Native American communities have sustainably managed their lands for thousands of years, cultivating, adapting, and transferring traditional ecological knowledge over many generations. This expansive reservoir of knowledge and deep connection to land keep Native communities strong and encourage the land to be more productive. Such relationships also benefit the natural world that we depend on, and the importance of being in harmony and true connection with places. In May 2019, the United Nations’ Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that environmental impacts were less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities. The goal of the Stewarding Native Lands program is to provide financial and technical assistance to support Native ecological stewardship and improve Native control of and access to ancestral lands and resources to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of Native communities.

To learn more about the critical role of Indigenous people and knowledge in the global environmental justice movement, First Nations offers this curated reading list.

Current Projects

Community Navigator Project

Tribes and Native communities have been managing their natural resources and stewarding their lands in accordance with their cultural values…

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Advancing Tribal Nature-Based Solutions

Native communities are on the front lines of climate change, experiencing extreme weather, rising sea levels, extended drought, warming temperatures,…

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Fortifying our Forests

Healthy forest land supports community well-being and helps protect ecological and cultural resources from development. As part of our Stewarding…

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Tribal Stewardship in the Northern Great Plains

First Nations launched the Tribal Stewardship in the Northern Great Plains initiative in 2015 with the aim of helping tribes…

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Supporting Indigenous-Led Environmental Justice

Since 2018, First Nations has partnered with the Broad Reach Fund to support Native American-led efforts to combat abusive extractive…

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Native Farmer and Rancher Apprenticeship Network

  First Nations' Native Farmer and Rancher Apprenticeship Network was launched in fall 2021 to provide training and Technical Assistance…

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Preserving Eastern Band of Cherokee and Apache Lands

As a project of First Nations Stewarding Native Lands Program, the Preserving Cherokee and Apache Lands project supports two…

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Indigenous Partnership to Advance Native American Communities and Producers

First Nations launched the Indigenous Partnership to Advance Native American Communities and Producers project in 2022 to bring together Native…

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Advancing Agribusiness and Ecological Stewardship in the Southwest

Indigenous knowledge systems recognize the interconnectedness of all things, including the link between the production of food and the conservation…

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Protecting Bering Sea Marine Resources

The Bering Sea is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world, supporting large numbers of marine mammals,…

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Advancing Native Ecological Stewardship

Indigenous communities across America are experiencing a variety of climate change issues, including longer drought periods, increasing average temperatures, and…

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Leveraging Co-Management and Co-Stewardship

As Tribes enter into “co-management” and “co-stewardship” agreements with federal entities, it is increasingly important for these agreements to be…

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American Buffalo Restoration on Tribal Lands in Montana and Wyoming

The American buffalo, an eco-cultural species, is critical to sustaining Native cultures and lifeways and the healthy function of grassland…

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Conservation Planning Builds Skills and Opportunities for Native Land Stewardship

Since 2021 First Nations’ Advancing Agribusiness and Ecological Stewardship in the Southwest project has served over 167 Native American land stewards in the southwest, on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, and in surrounding tribes in New Mexico. In this story, First Nations’ Senior Program Officer Leiloni Begaye (Diné) describes the comprehensive five-day, hands-on sessions held in 2023 to guide land stewards in developing conservation plans and improve participation in USDA programs, as well as how place-based learning is helping land stewards nurture the ecosystems of the Southwest and foster relationships with their sacred homelands.

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“Usugilix Awakun: We Are Working Together”

Tribal Lands Conservation Fund

Tribal Lands Conservation Fund

Fort Belknap: Strengthening Community, People, & Opportunities Through Stewardship

Lower Brule: Stewarding Tribal Lands with Western Science & Traditional Culture

Our Stewarding Native Lands Supporters