Webinars | Stewarding Native Lands

Unpacking Jargon: Conservation, Protected Areas and Indigenous Homelands

Voices from Turtle Island/North America

Presentation Materials:
Recording of Webinar

Presented by Swift Foundation and First Nations Development Institute

Conservation is a word that is also an industry that has grown in scale and influence. Protected areas are a method of conservation that also have a problematic track record of forcibly removing Indigenous and other marginalized groups from their homelands, tied to fortress conservation. Indigenous homelands are known to be the most well protected, culturally and biologically diverse places remaining on the planet. And yet, the word “conservation” does not exist in Indigenous languages. “Indigenous conservation,” for instance, is an oxymoron that does not suffice to describe the complex management practices, that are also agricultural and spiritual, within Indigenous territoralities.

This webinar discusses and reflects on the ways the terms conservation and protected areas have been in conflict with practices of maintaining Indigenous people’s homelands and how philanthropy might reconsider these terms and consider Indigenous words and understandings instead or alongside. We also consider what “conservation” and “protected” territories looks like when led by people inhabiting and caring for their own homelands, that which might be called conservation but for which there are other words.

The goal of this conversation is to unpack meanings and memories associated with these words in order to deepen a shared understanding toward strengthening more coherent efforts and narratives grounded in reciprocity of the land and community.


  • Opening by Mary Adelzadeh, Program Advisor, First Nations Development Institute
  • Eddie Knight, Coyote Valley Tribal member: Coyote Valley Historic Preservation officer and organizer of the Blues Beach land transfer.
  • Jeannette Armstrong, Syilx Okanagan, a fluent speaker of Nsyilxcn and a traditional knowledge keeper of the Okanagan Nation: Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy.
  • Marlowe Sam, Wenatchi/Lakes descendent from the Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington State (CCT): Lecturer, Indigenous Studies, University of British Colombia Okanagan campus.
  • Closing by Alejandro Alejandro, Program Director and Andes Amazon Lead, Swift Foundation.
  • Moderated by Sonja Swift, Program Advisor, Swift Foundation