Reimagining conservation through an Indigenous lens
As we come to grips with our past, the conservation movement is undergoing a transformation as well. Part of that is recognizing the pain behind the United States’ system of public lands—the enduring homelands of Indigenous peoples, taken from them without knowledge or permission. We must promote healing from the trauma associated with that legacy of assimilation and termination policies.
Using that reckoning as a starting point, the Imago Initiative is an innovative process of creating a new model for Indigenous-led conservation that recognizes and advances the rights of Indigenous peoples and uplifts their inherent, inalienable rights as the occupants and stewards of the land since time immemorial.
By engaging in place-based dialogue in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Imago Initiative is already working to heal historical trauma and invest in equity and inclusivity. We intend to make land protections in the Arctic Refuge more durable while recognizing the rights of Indigenous inhabitants and providing fair and equitable benefits for Iñupiat and Gwich’in peoples alike. We aspire to do this while safeguarding the unique biodiversity and ecologically sensitive habitat of the Arctic by incorporating Indigenous values—and setting a transformational example for the conservation movement in Alaska and nationwide.
The time has come to reshape our approach to protecting public lands with Indigenous leadership and through the worldview of the original inhabitants of those lands.
What we're doing
Recognizing and reckoning with the past
By engaging in place-based dialogue in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Imago Initiative is already working to heal historical trauma related to land dispossession, assimilation and termination policies.
Working together in new ways
The Imago Initiative is exploring new ways of working with our Indigenous, conservation and agency partners to create an equitable system in which Indigenous peoples and the federal government share access to, and management and ownership of, public lands.
Advancing justice and equity
We are investing in equity and inclusivity in hopes of changing how protected areas are designed and how conservation is accomplished, all with an eye toward ensuring fair and equitable benefits for Indigenous peoples.