Intertribal Timber Council
The ITC has been a powerful and unique community asset for 36 years -- a nonprofit association of more than 60 tribal governments, working together in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, academia, public land managers, and industry, to accomplish a simple mission:
ITC's "products" are connections among people and information. ITC carries out its mission and purpose by:
To pursue and promote the conservation and development of Indian forest resources for the benefit and advancement of Indian people
Establishing and advancing working partnerships
ITC engages tribes and others to advance working partnerships by removing barriers then solves complex problems and improves Indian forest management. ITC educates the public, through outreach in schools, and providing technical assistance to text book authors and forestry magazine editors. ITC monitors current issues of importance to tribal communities, conveys the message that forests can be managed practically and efficiently to meet a multitude of needs, and participates in national and international forums and task forces.
Sharing tools and information
ITC extracts and distills essential information and delivers it to member tribes by email, newsletter, and web site. ITC's well-attended quarterly meetings and annual symposiums connect tribes for sharing of information and expertise.
Building tribal leadership
Experienced and emerging tribal leaders are encouraged to participate in ITC's workshops, designed to advance leadership skills within the tribal community, in ITC's symposia and meetings, and in interfacing with other organizations, including professional societies and industrial workgroups. ITC provides scholarships to outstanding Indian students, and Earle Wilcox Awards, given annually to honor individuals who make significant contributions to Indian forestry.
Respecting and supporting tribal sovereignty
ITC provides data and divergent perspectives to assist tribes in assuming their responsibilities and exercising their sovereign rights within the American system of governance. ITC also provides testimony before Congress and other entities, and unbiased evaluation of the U. S. government's responsibility for tribal resources.
Forests are central to Indians, and thus ITC is much more than timber. It's giving tribes the identity and strong base from which to act. It's about assisting tribes to get the funding they need to pioneer new forestry techniques that affect all aspects of life, beyond trees. It's about bringing tribes together to discuss global issues. And about bringing information to the table, so that tribes can make informed decisions for themselves.
Despite the prominence of timber in its name, the ITC advances responsible management of all resources that are affected by the health of the forest, the trees, herbs, grasses, wildlife, soil, water, fish, and air. In 1990, the Department of the Interior bestowed its prestigious Conservation Service Award to the ITC, in recognition of its achievements in advancing administrative and technical improvements in forest management, and for increasing appreciation of cultural and traditional values that Indian people hold for their forest resources.
These are just a few examples of ITC's remarkable accomplishments, accrued over thirty-five years with a tremendous effect on the lives of thousands of people:
35 annual symposiums have been convened by ITC
289 scholarships to date have been awarded by ITC which totals more than $500,000
170 Earle Wilcox Awards, for outstanding service to Indian Forestry, have been awarded by ITC
ITC has played a pivotal role in bringing tribes together to effect necessary legislative reform in management of Indian forests. Efforts have resulted in passage of the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act (P.L. 101-630), and Secretarial Order 3206, entitled American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. government selected ITC to provide unbiased evaluation of the federal government's responsibility for tribal resources, by administering an independent assessment of forest management on Indian forest land.
ITC initiated an Indian Forestry themed issue of Journal of Forestry, and created similar issues with Evergreen Magazine and Western Forester to inform the general public on tribal perspectives on forest management.
In 1996, we helped facilitate tribal input to produce a wildlife textbook, Wildlife Habitat Relationships in Forested Ecosystems by Dr. David Patton.
ITC has also acted as a bridge to help get Project Learning Tree workshops to promote natural resource education along with Indian culture in public schools.
ITC operates with shared values.
Partnership, perspective, and justice, create a base from which ITC provides information, support, and open dialogue. ITC's work has touched thousands of lives by its impact on the forests and the Indian people who manage and rely on them. Some of the qualities that make ITC unique include:
Member-driven, with a small paid staff.
ITC's forums, information emails and newsletter, and advocacy efforts would not be possible without our members. With the help of a small but committed staff of two, ITC members do it all.
Thirty or more people attend each ITC quarterly meeting, representing more than 60 member tribes. ITC is not another layer of management. It is a vital, active place, where members participate and use the services. ITC's information doesn't sit on a library shelf; it gets used every day by tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Quality of information.
When an email is sent by ITC, people read it, because they know it will not contain any extraneous information. It will be brief, timely, and useful.
ITC doesn't just talk about partnering, it makes it happen. ITC has more than two decades of experience bringing together the federal government and Indian tribes, an experience shared by no other organization in the nation. As one board member states, "The whole key is relationships; they translate all the stuff we talk about into on the ground reality."
A neutral convener.
ITC respects the tribes and provides them a forum where they are free to speak and work together.
Unique leveraging ability.
ITC can see the big picture, and use our combined strength for the benefit of smaller tribes.
ITC exists to empower each tribe to exercise its responsibilities and pursue its own vision for the future. ITC is an organization with a heart. One volunteer said it this way: "People are here with the right attitude. You go away uplifted."
ITC is evolving.
There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than a clear, obtainable, and passionate vision, driven by its executive board and widely shared by its membership. ITC operates from such a vision, centered on working partnerships and the sovereignty of its member tribes. ITC exists as a model for tribes and the United States, proving that tribes can operate cohesively, with both good environmental practices and efficient industry. ITC empowers tribes by assisting them to work together for the benefit of Indian resources and people.
As we reach the turn of the century, ITC will continue to advocate for strengthened tribal capacity, for good forest management practices, for adequate resources and policies to support our vision, and for continued team work. ITC will continue to be a place of networking, to enhance communication among tribes, so they can learn with and from one another. Our commitment to and respect for tribal sovereignty, and our focus on cost-effective management with maximum tribal volunteer participation, will never change.
While ITC's mission and values stand firm, the way in which we fund our work is changing to align more fully with our values.
ITC is dedicated solely to Indian people. Under the current mode of operation, we are supported almost completely by federal funding. There are occasions when this makes us unable to advocate for tribal interests and effective management of Indian natural resources. Additionally, our reliance on federal funding puts us in the position where we are actually competing with our own member tribes for limited appropriations. Across the nation, Indian tribes are now being confronted with unprecedented fiscal demands caused by diminishing Congressional appropriations available to meet pressing needs within their communities.
This situation gives ITC a singularly compelling reason to raise private funds:
Every dollar we raise for ourselves means another dollar for a member tribe to put toward forestry or other community needs. Building our capacity to raise private money well into the future, will extend this benefit to future generations.
It is from this perspective that ITC has developed a five year plan to be free from federal funding. ITC has created the road map to move into our leadership phase, as a strong, independent, effective organization convening tribes and operating in the forefront of Indian natural resource management.
ITC will meet this future with powerful partnerships, engaged members, shared information, and with private funding from donors who find our mission compelling and our experience, abilities, and values unparalleled. It is an investment in future generations. Jaime A. Pinkham (Nez Perce), President of ITC in 1995, said it best:
...Indian tribes are here to stay. We will not sell our land or shear down our forests during wavering economic times and relocate our operations elsewhere. Our ancestors--our culture--is committed to the land upon which we live. We have become new pathfinders searching for ways to revitalize our environment and thus our communities. When our work is done, our greatest honor is not in what we celebrate in ourselves today. The greatest honor lingers in the future when our grandchildren will stop and say, "Our elders, our grandmothers and grandfathers, did do it right." They will enjoy the success of our lifetime in their future.