The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) received a $100,000 award from the First Nations Development Institute’s (FNDI) “Stewarding Native Lands” program. The 2024 funding supports critical capacity at NARF, a national nonprofit legal organization, to meet the unique legal challenges of Tribal Nations seeking to address a wide variety of tribal eco-stewardship goals.

“Tribal governments are developing critical solutions as co-stewards to address climate change impacts on treaty-related, historically significant, and often sacred, ecosystems across the United States. Tribal governments offer unique and compelling ways to overcome red tape in public land management, build resilience in the face of climate change, and heal from historical misunderstandings with their counterparts in federal, state, and local agencies as well as with private parties and NGOs. This generous grant from the First Nations Development Institute strengthens the capacity of the Native American Rights Fund to help provide technical legal assistance to Tribal Nations seeking to operate more effectively in these ways,” said NARF Staff Attorney Ada Montague Stepleton.

Land stewardship options, such as co-management/co-stewardship agreements, conservation easements, fee into trust, land return, and land-use planning regulations are all areas that Tribal Nations currently request help from NARF to navigate. This award will help the nonprofit build capacity to meet the growing need for this type of technical assistance.

“Many Indigenous communities face climate change impacts firsthand. This grant from the First Nations Development Institute allows NARF to be where we are increasingly most needed: ensuring U.S. partners seek Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from Tribal Nations, so the first inhabitants of the lands and waters in question can raise concerns, share solutions based on thousands of years of experience, and participate in making well-informed decisions about protecting and managing shared resources,” said Montague Stepleton.

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