Native Youth Leadership Alliance

nyla aihec 2011 spring conference 210Kahee, I’m Hawaatiiesh Ba Chia Akchawaakiiesh (Prays in the War) an Apsaalooke Tribal citizen of the Apsaalooke Nation (commonly referred to as the Crow Reservation).

Crow Country is nestled in the Great Plains or within Montana State boundaries.

I am a child of the Whistling Water clan and a member of the Bad War Deed Clans. I am also a proud descendant of the Northern Cheyenne people.  I have been blessed with an enormous family that has raised me strong in my culture, spirituality, and the environment to live a well-balanced life.

My English name is Burdette Joseph Birdinground. My parents are Joesph Howe and Anita Birdinground. However, I consider myself lucky to given 4 mothers in this life, my birth mother, my grandmother, my aunt Carmaleta Birdinground, and our mother Earth. My grandparents, Gilbert and Edith Birdinground Sr., raised me to understand my cultural practices/values balanced with a modern day Westernized education. My aunt Carmaleta Birdinground continues to teach me cultural values and Apsaalooke traditional ecological values.

I am currently a in a graduate program at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. The program is the Center for International Trade in Forest Products (CINTRAFOR) focusing on international marketing of forest timber resources for North American Tribes, specifically in the Greater Pacific Northwest. I also work for the Northwest Advanced Renewable Alliance with Dr. Daniel T Schwartz focusing on biomass as a bioenergy. I work on a current project with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

After completing the masters program I have several options. I have the opportunity to continue into a Ph.D program with CINTRAFOR, I can apply to the University of Washington’s Environmental Law Program for a Juris Doctorates (J.D.), or I can began working for a Tribe or private company working with Tribes.

My main goals are to work with the Apsaalooke Tribe and other Indigenous Tribes around the globe facing natural resource and land issues. I also plan on assisting in ecological conservation on and off Tribal lands. My passions are triggered by the fact that our ancestors were “ecologist” by nature. Our ancestors were raised to be in sync with their environment and the seasons, so they had a real relationship and respected the ecosystem. Though I will be environmental scientist/forester by trade, I plan to honor my people and the world around me by becoming a traditional ecologist and conservationist.

Areas of Focus

Environmental Justice, Food Sovereignty, Youth Development/Organizing, Former President of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Congress, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Renewable Biofuels, and International Timber Marketing