In 1992, the Haudenosaunee  sent a delegation to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to spread the words of the Thanksgiving Address, the philosophy of our people. This delegation reminded the entire world that we have a responsibility to act as caretakers of the natural world. At the Rio Summit, world leaders finally made a committment to protect the global enviornment. The UN drafted Agenda 21, Chapter 26, which recognized that Indigenous peoples have control over natural resources in their own terretories and have the right to set policies to protect the natural world using our holistic traditional knowledge.
A call for action went out to each of the Haudenosaunee Nations to come together to form an organization called the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF) whose purpose was to discuss environmental degradation and restoration in our communities. Haudenosaunee leaders, environmental technicians and scientists came together to address environmental issues and develop a plan to correct the problems that were identified. We worked collectively to put together a document called Haudenosaunee Environmental Restoration: An Indigenous Strategy for Human Sustainability.

The Restoration Plan begins with a short history of the Haudenosaunee and discusses how we have always interacted on an international level by signing treaties with other Nations. The plan then addresses the environmental concerns of each of the Haudenosaunee Nations, followed by a comprehensive strategy to do research to find solutions to environmental problems. The work of the HETF was sanctioned by the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee.
In July 1995, the HETF presented the Haudenosaunee Restoration Plan to the UN at the Summit of the Elders. The purpose of this meeting was to institute a partnership with governments and international organizations to establish procedures that would empower Indigenous Nations so they are better able to protect their people and lands from activities that are environmentally unsound or socially and culturally inappropriate.

When the Haudenosaunee presented the Restoration Plan to the UN, HETF set a precedent. The environmental strategy of the Haudenosaunee is among the first comprehensive responses to Agenda 21, Chapter 26, and marks the beginning of the International Decade for Indigenous Peoples.

Since the Summit, there has been a great need to continue this work, implement the strategies outlined in the Haudenosaunee  Restoration Plan and develop sustainable economic alternatives that will preserve our culture, develop peace in the natural world and surrounding communities and ensure that future generations will not be adversely affected. The Haudenosaunee Restoration Plan is only the beginning of this work. The plan is considered to be a working document and wil be constantly undergoing further development, editing, revisions and corrections.
The Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF) is composed of delegates chosen by each of the Haudenosaunee Nations who are committed to identifying environmental problems in their communities and working to find solutions to these problems. The leaders of the Haudenosaunee have always considered three principles when making decisions: will a decision threaten peace, the natural world or future generations. The delegates of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force have accepted these principles and will use the following questions to guide us in our decision making:
  • What effect will our decisions have on peace?
  • What effect will our decisions have on the natural world?
  • What effect will our decisions have on future generations?


The mission of the HETF is:
  • to assist Haudenosaunee Nations in their efforts to conserve, preserve, protect and restore their environmental, natural and cultural resources;
  • to promote the health and survival of the sacred web of life for future generations
  • to support other Indigenous Nations working on environmental issues;
  • and to fulfill our responsibilities to the natural world as our Creator instructed without jeapardizing peace, sovereignty, or treaty obligations.

However, as Indigenous Nations, we realize that all things are interconnected and do not wishs to limit our activities to those listed above.
  • To support the implementation of strategies, including those outlined in the Haudenosaunee Environmental Restoration Plan, that will restore environmental and community health within the territories of the Haudenosaunee.
  • To improve communications within and between the communities located within the territories of the Haudenosaunee.
  • To inform each Haudenosaunee community about pollution issues and to promote local pollution prevention activities.
  • To support community based education on environmental issues, pollution prevention, sustainable development and waste management within the territories of the Haudenosaunee.
  • To support the development of a culturally appropriate educational curricula for Haudenosaunee youth.
  • To support the training of Haudenosaunee technicians to conduct scientific research, including sampling and testing for toxicants.
  • To make recommendations regarding environmental policies and standards that are designated to protect the natural world.
  • To support community programs that promote waste management, including composting, recycling, and roadside and underwater cleanups.
  • To develop a culturally based environmental protection strategy for implementation within Haudenosaunee communities.
  • To develop a long-term funding strategy so HETF can better assist communities in addressing environmental issues such as pollution prevention, cleanup of existing environmental problems, and restoration of the natural world and communities within the territories of the Haudenosaunee.
  • To network with other environmental and legal professionals on environmental issues.
  • To suppport other Indigenous Nations who are working on environmental issues.
Scientific Co-Chair
F. Henry Lickers
Seneca Nation
Turtle Clan
Political Co-Chair
Oren Lyons, Onondaga Faithkeeper
Seneca Nation
Turtle Clan
HETF Director
David Arquette
Mohawk Nation
Wolf Clan
For Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force staff or to speak to any other HETF volunteer member in your community:

Akwesasne - David Arquette, Mary Arquette, Peggy Pyke-Thompson

Kahnawake - Eva Johnson, Lynn K. Jacobs

Oneida - Wayne Waterman, Chaz Wheelock

Onondaga - Jeanne Shenandoah, Curtis Waterman

Six Nations - Steve Jacobs, Dan Longboat

Tonawanda - Linda Logan

Tuscarora - Rene Rickard, Bryan Printup, Brad Thomas

Tyendinaga - Suzanne Brant

Wahta - Tim Thompson

Tuscarora Office
Rene Rickard, Director
Tuscarora Nation
Bear Clan
Bryan Printup, GIS Manager
Tuscarora Nation
Beaver Clan
Bradley Thomas, Technician
Tuscarora Nation
Snipe Clan
Tonawanda Seneca Office
Onondaga Office
Curtis Waterman, Technician
Onondaga Nation
Beaver Clan
Cayuga Office
Dan Hill, Technician
Cayuga Nation
Heron Clan