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

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 received $858,000 from The Broad Reach Fund to support Native American-led efforts to combat abusive…

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Community Forest Program Tribal Outreach

With funding from the USDA Forest Service and matching support from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, First Nations' Community Forest Program…

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Tribal Lands Conservation Fund

An Indigenous Approach to Caring for and Repairing the Earth First Nations’ Tribal Lands Conservation Fund is built on a…

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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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Increasing Native Producer and Community Access to Quality Water Resources

A critical component of Stewarding Native Lands is preserving and protecting Native resources such as water. To regain control of…

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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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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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Tribal Tourism in Montana

Native community-controlled tourism initiatives bolster economic development opportunities and put the community in charge of telling their own story and…

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Finding a Voice and Making it Heard: Defending Native Rights on the Border

For the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas — on the border and in the pathway of “the wall” — the future is precarious. Not federally recognized as a tribe and threatened daily by the impact of the Texas Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal and associated pipelines, the Carrizo/Comecrudo is in a race to identify its villages, gain proper recognition, and form a voice to protect its rights and land. It is an uphill fight, but with a new project funded in part by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), progress is being made.

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

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

Our Stewarding Native Lands Supporters