Indigenous Rights

Indigenous peoples inhabit 80% of the world’s intact forests and high biodiversity ecosystems. In many cases they are the only defenders of our planet’s last wild places.

LDF supports indigenous communities who are on the front lines defending their lands, water, people and culture from mounting pressures. Around the world, the seizure of land for fossil fuel extraction and oil pipelines, and the clearing of forests for the exploitation of resources like timber, minerals and palm oil not only impacts the planet’s ecosystems -- it also ravages countless indigenous and local communities. LDF funds indigenous led programs that teach local leaders how to map and document their territories, defend their indigenous rights, implement renewable energy solutions, develop sustainable livelihoods, and increase the impact of their public advocacy efforts. 

Since early 2016, LDF has worked closely with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota to support their efforts to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across their ancestral lands. Though the pipeline is now operational, the battle continues in the courts. Standing Rock created momentum and unity for the indigenous movement, and ultimately raised public awareness about indigenous rights issues around the world. 

LDF has been supporting the work of ClearWater and the Ceibo Alliance in the heart of the Amazon rainforest since 2014. Four tribes, whose territories extend across 5 million acres of rainforest in Ecuador, Columbia and Peru, are working together to protect their lands and culture from oil extraction and palm oil plantations. Programs include; territorial defense through monitoring, mapping and legal tools, developing microenterprises for non-timber forest products, traditional culinary goods, and crafts, and fostering health and self-reliance through clean water and solar power energy systems for hundreds of families. This work has built deep relationships between indigenous communities and a renewed sense of resolve to defend their home in the Amazon rainforest.


· In late 2016 Utah Dine Bikeyah and its partners successfully achieved National Monument status for Bears Ears, a 1.35 million acre cultural landscape in southeast Utah considered sacred by numerous regional tribes.

· RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) is providing legal defense support to four new campaigns – including an effort to stop the construction of a liquid natural gas facility that threatens pristine salmon habitat in Canada. 

· Wishtoyo Foundation launched the First Nations Ecological Conservation Alliance this past year to mobilize and empower First Nations communities to engage in natural and cultural resource conservation through partnerships and collaboration.

Explore all Indigenous Rights projects >

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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