“The indigenous understanding has its basis of spirituality in a recognition of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things, a holistic and balanced view of the world. All things are bound together. All things connect. What happens to the Earth happens to the children of the earth. Humankind has not woven the web of life; we are but one thread. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
Ms. Adamson, a Cherokee, has worked directly with grassroots tribal communities, and nationally as an advocate of local tribal issues since 1970. She started First Nations Development Institute in 1980 and First Peoples Worldwide in 1997. Ms. Adamson's work established a new field of culturally appropriate, values-driven development which created: the first reservation-based microenterprise loan fund in the United States; the first tribal investment model; a national movement for reservation land reform; and legislation that established new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. Ms. Adamson is active in many non-profit organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Corporation for Enterprise Development, The Bay Foundation, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, The Bridgespan Group, and First Voice International. She is on the Board of Directors for the Calvert Social Investment Fund (the largest socially responsible mutual fund), serves on the Calvert Group Governance Committee, and Co-chairs the Calvert Social Investment Fund Audit Committee. Ms. Adamson served as an advisor to the United Nations on Rural Development, U.S. delegate to the United Nations' International Labor Organization for International Indigenous Rights, the U.S. Catholic Conference's Campaign for Human Development on strategic planning for economic development, and the International Labor Organization for International Indigenous Rights. Over past two decades, Ms. Adamson has received numerous awards for her work with Indigenous peoples, most recently including the 2004 Schwab Outstanding Social Entrepreneur and a Doctor in Humane Letters degree from Dartmouth College. Ms. Adamson holds a Masters in Science in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (formerly New Hampshire College) in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she also teaches a graduate course on Indigenous Economics within the Community Economic Development Program.