Alaska Village Initiatives (AVI) is a nonprofit 501(C)3 organization established to promote community-based and locally-led holistic conservation activities to protect Mother Earth for future generations by establishing and supporting Tribal Conservation Districts. INCA believes that conservation supports tribal solidarity and provides resiliency to tribal nations to protect and shield their culture, sovereignty, and lands.
AVI assists Tribal Conservation Districts, Tribal Nations and holistic land stewards to instill traditional knowledge, while protecting and restoring the Circle of Life to heal Mother Earth.
WHAT IS A TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT?
A Tribal Conservation District is a Tribal entity focusing on supporting Tribal efforts to care for Mother Earth, provide for the utilization, protection, conservation and restoration of Tribal lands for the benefit of the community in a partnership with the United States of America (USDA) agencies. The Tribal Conservation District serves as a locally led voice in leadership efforts to address and prioritize natural resource concerns within a defined area. The Tribal Conservation District works closely with USDA agencies to strengthen government-to-government relations.
Tribal Conservation Districts also provide parity in access to federal conservation programs and provide assistance to manage lands in a productive and healthy manner. Tribal Conservation Districts make available technical, financial and educational assistance to address the resource needs of all the communities they serve.
HOW IS A TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT FORMED?
Tribes form a Tribal Conservation District by developing and signing a resolution. By establishing a Tribal Conservation District under Tribal law, the District has the power provided it by the Tribal Council.
HOW IS A TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT GOVERNED?
A Tribal Conservation District is governed by a board of directors. They serve as the hub for coordination efforts to carry out the resource needs of the Tribal Council. The board usually consists of 5-7 members with a diverse knowledge base and background experience. The board must consist of a Chairperson (President); Vice-Chairperson (Vice-President), Secretary/Treasurer and board members.
WHAT GUIDES TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT OPERATIONS?
Once established, Tribal Conservation Districts write by-laws which include the numerous methods that affect their district’s operations. Bylaws contain provisions relating to the way the district conducts its affairs, the duties and responsibilities of the board members, and communication and coordination protocols.
HOW DOES A TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT IDENTIFY NATURAL RESOURCE CONCERNS?
What are the immediate burning issues the district wants to address? After the by-laws have been written and approved, resource concerns must be identified. Establishing priorities fuels the districts purpose. It gives the district permission to focus on natural resource and related issues that matter to the Tribe and make a commitment to address the identified issues. Identifying and management of the watershed in the resource area is the sustainable distribution of its resources. Prioritization includes the process of creating and implementing plans, programs and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within the watershed boundary. Features of watersheds that tribes seek to manage include: water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff, water rights and overall planning of the entire watershed.
HOW DOES A TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT DEVELOP PLANS AND AGREEMENTS WITH USDA?
Tribal Conservation Districts sign a Mutual Agreement with USDA. The agreement is between USDA, the Tribal Nation, and the Tribal Conservation District. The purpose of the agreement is to provide consultation, coordination and assistance between USDA and Tribal governments to plan and implement natural resource management and conservation programs on Indian Lands.