Published: Nov. 27, 2022

Mobilizing the Global Community on Climate Change:
An Indigenous Leadership Perspective

Fawn R. SharpFawn R. Sharp
President, National Congress of American Indians

Thursday, October 13, 2022
6:00 p.m.
Wolf Law Building, Wittemyer Courtroom
Livestream/Zoom option available

Indigenous Peoples have long embraced a special responsibility to care for all living beings and steward their lands consistent with cultural, spiritual, and economic traditions. Fawn Sharp will share her perspectives on the relationship between human rights and climate justice, as well as advocacy under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, comparative experiences among Indigenous Peoples around the world, and local needs of tribal leaders and communities in the U.S.

Fawn R. Sharp (Quinault)
Fawn R. Sharp, a five-term President of the Quinault Indian Nation, now serves as President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest American Indian and Alaska Native tribal government organization in the country. A leading voice in the global movement to address climate change, President Sharp has delivered presentations and published articles on this topic in venues throughout the United States and around the world. In 2021, President Sharp became the first Indigenous leader to be credentialed by the U.S. State Department to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), and she regularly advises UN bodies on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. President Sharp’s international advocacy on climate change issues is informed by her experience as an elected tribal leader in the Northwest where environmental disasters have deeply affected Indigenous Peoples, lands, and resources.

Sharp graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington at the age of 19, and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington in 1995. She has been honored by the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada and the International Human Rights Law program at Oxford University.

Presented by the the Getches-Wilkinson Center and the Colorado Environmental Law Journal.


The Ruth Wright Distinguished Lecture in Natural ResourcesRuth Wright

The annual Distinguished Lecture Series is a cooperative venture between the Getches-Wilkinson Center (GWC) and the Colorado Natural Resources, Energy, & Environmental Law Review to host a distinguished figure in the fields of natural resource, energy, and environmental law and policy. The Distinguished Lecture series provides a public forum for thought-leadership, allowing the speakers to reflect on their experiences and provide insights on the current challenges facing natural resources, energy, and the environment. The articles and transcripts resulting from these lectures are published in the Law Review.

In 2018, the GWC received a generous gift from the Wright Family Foundation to establish the Ruth Wright Distinguished Lecture in Natural Resources in honor of her inspiring legacy as a leader in western natural resources, land conservation, and environmental policy and advocacy. With this support, we look forward to bringing this free event to our community for years to come.

As a legislator, environmentalist, and historian, Ruth Wright dedicated her career to environmental issues and activism. While a student at Colorado Law, she led efforts to preserve Boulder’s open space and limit the height of buildings in Boulder to 55 feet to protect enjoyment of the unique landscape for the ages. In 1980, she was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, where she represented Boulder until 1994. She was also the second woman ever to become the House minority leader, a role she held from 1986 until 1992. While serving in the House of Representatives, Wright continued to be a strategic champion for the environment, and has been recognized by such groups as the Colorado Wildlife Foundation, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and Colorado Open Lands.