Current Projects

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 Native communities – the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina and Apache Stronghold in Arizona – in efforts to increase control and management of natural resources that are historically and culturally significant.

Launched in 2021, with support from Patagonia, the project provides funding and technical assistance to help these communities meet key objectives in preserving and protecting Native lands:

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Through the project, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will be empowered to plan and manage 21.31 acres of recently acquired forest habitat in accordance with the values of Cherokee land stewardship. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is known for its sustainable management of forest resources utilizing both modern scientific techniques and traditional ecological knowledge. With this support, the Tribe will be able to protect much of the acquired land from further residential encroachment and add quality, mature oak forest to the tribal forest land base.


Young women dancers at an Apache Sunrise Ceremony at Oak Flat.

Apache Stronghold. Through the project, Apache Stronghold will conduct civic and legal engagement, public education, and activism to protect Chi’chil Biłdagoteel, also known as Oak Flat, from a proposed mineral extraction operation. The sacred site of Chi’chil Biłdagoteel is where Apache people and other Native Americans pray, collect water and medicinal plants for ceremonies, gather acorns and other foods, and honor those who are buried there.

Building on the experiences of these two Native communities throughout the grant period, First Nations will also host a one-day convening with other Native-led grassroots organizations that are working to protect tribal lands and sacred sites to share strategies and lessons learned.

Funding from Patagonia also goes to support the overall Stewarding Native Lands Program.