Indigenous Stewardship, Powerful Partnerships and Co-Leadership for Committed Conservation Collaboration

Our Roots

The WILD Foundation celebrates its deep and thriving traditional roots in being co-founded by Magqubu Ntombela, a tribal Zulu of the old order, and his white South African brother and colleague, the famous conservationist Ian Player. Our work is charged with integrating and demonstrating both the Indigenous perspective that informs all our programs, and also the partnership of traditional and contemporary peoples’ knowledge, wisdom and commitment to relationship with wilderness. This integrated, holistic ethic has shaped and made successful all that WILD does as we work with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in North America, throughout Latin America and the Amazon, Asia, Australia and elsewhere.

Photos © Ken Kahiri

Our ethic and practice, simply stated, is that we celebrate and empower our partnership with Indigenous Peoples. We work with them as fellow activists and co-creators of a better future and recognize their leadership on diverse and important issues.

While this ethic is inherent to all our programs, it bears mentioning that the 1st World Wilderness Congress (1977) was the first major global conservation Congress that included the voices of many Indigenous Peoples commenting and advising on serious matters of conservation, culture, and governance. This tradition of course continued and increased in many substantive ways, not the least of which was a special Native Lands and Wilderness Council at three of the Congresses in which we facilitated many Indigenous lands and seas managers to elevate valuable voices and important stories that have been silenced.

Further, our main office in Boulder, Colorado occupies lands that are recognized by treaty as the territories of Indigenous Nations including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute peoples. We recognize and understand that we benefit from the historic and ongoing injustices committed against the Native peoples of this land and work actively to right these wrongs.

The Arapaho, the main tribe of the Boulder Valley region, call themselves Hinono’eino (“our people”) and refer to their tribe as Hinono’eiteen (Arapahoe Nation). While the Hinóno’éí and Cheyenne are now in Oklahoma, they continue to relate to Boulder, Colorado as their homeland. We especially honor the spirit, actions, and ethic of Arapahoe Chief Niwot (Left-Hand) who so wisely but unsuccessfully tried to negotiate co-existence with the white settlers.

Please join us in remembering that Boulder Valley is home to the Hinóno’éí people and to other tribes that camped, hunted, and traded here for centuries. It is also important to remember that Native people of many Indigenous nations live here in Boulder today, and that Native cultures are alive, active and evolving in the face of continuing challenges, and are an important part of our collective present and future.

(with grateful acknowledgement to the Boulder Healing Hub)

Collaboration Across The Globe