A national Native American non-profit organization, the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society, serves as a communication medium for self-determined Native American fish and wildlife managers.

We serve as a communication network between tribal, federal, and state fish and wildlife management entities.


Each year at the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society National Conference, special individuals working in the the field of tribal natural resources are recognized for their exceptional work. The NAFWS honors an individual yearly because their work as a steward of the land or natural resources contributes to the betterment of tribal natural resources. Their impact in Indian Country creates the road to the future for better management of tribal natural resources.

The award is titled Chief Sealth who was a leader with his tribe, the Suquamish and known for his strong oratory stance on behalf of his people, land, and cultural and religious protection.

Since 1997, the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society has recognized these stewards of the environment and natural resources:

2018 - Mark Dixon, Pueblo of Isleta, Department of Natural Resources, Isleta, NM
2017 - Joseph Y. Oatman, Nez Perce Tribe, Department of Fisheries Resource Management, Lapwai, ID
2016 - Michael "Mic" J. Isham, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Hayward, WI
2015 - Patty Brown-Schwalenberg, Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Anchorage, AK
2014 – Norman Jojola, BIA, Northern Pueblos Agency
2013 – Jarrod Daniel, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
2012 – Five natural resource managers were awarded in 2012. Mike Fox, Ft. Belknap Tribal Council; Mark Azure, Director, Belknap Fish & Wildlife, and
Robert Magnan, Fort Peck Tribes Fish & Game Department (3 Awardees for Buffalo Restoration)
Nathan Small, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Tribal Chairman (Awarded for Instrumental Impact
with the Columbia Basin Fish Accord).
Tom Watts, Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish, Wildlife and Fishery Specialist (Awarded for 30 years
utilizing science to develop and manage a successful big-game management program in Indian
2011 – (Post-Humous) – Dewey Schwalenberg, (First Executive Director of NAFWS), Stevens Village, AK
2010 – Trudy Ecoffey, Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Department
2009 – Cynthia Dale, Sensitive Species Coordinator, White Mountain Apache Tribe
2008 – Rick Wadleigh, Tribal Liaison, USDA – AHPIS
Alvah Quinn – Director, Sisseton-Wapeton Oyate Sioux Tribe, Game and Fish Department
2007 – Mike Montoya, Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission, Mescalero Tribe, New Mexico
2005 – Daniel Parker, White Mountain Apache, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Arizona Fishery Resources
2004 – David Close, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (now, Dr. David Close)
2003 – Gary Rankel, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Chief Administrator, Indian Fish and Wildlife Programs
2002 – Dave Conner, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
2001 – Dwight Koch, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
2000 – David Wolf, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
1999 – Adrian “Dusty” Miller, Menominee Tribe
1998 – John E. Antonio, Pueblo of Laguna
1997 – Jaime A. Pinkham, Nez Perce Tribe