Indian Country 101 - A Learning Opportunity

Indian Country 101 - A Learning Opportunity for the Rest of Us

May 21, 2024, 12 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT

Indian Country 101 - A Learning Opportunity for the Rest of Us

Indian Country 101 is a free, online, self-paced tribal engagement training series developed by The Whitener Group, a Native-owned consultant group, and The Nature Conservancy (Washington State). Launched during February 2023, this innovative tool was created as a way for non-native people to learn more about the history of Native Nations in the U.S. and how to effectively engage and support Tribes in conservation work. The development of the Indian Country (IC) tribal engagement series was grounded in the understanding that you can’t work with Indigenous people in the United States without a true understanding of the long and complicated history of tribes and tribal governments. Join Jennifer Whitener Ulrich, Jon Hoekstra, and Jessie Israel as they share more about this program, and how we can all become more sensitive and responsible non-Native partners and program managers as we work with Native sovereign nations throughout the U.S.

Makah tribal members mount salmon on cedar pikes for slow smoking on the beach in Neah Bay.
Makah tribal members mount salmon on cedar pikes for slow smoking on the beach in Neah Bay. This ancestral method is handed down to each generation and honors the salmon for its pivotal role in tribal life and culture. Photo courtesy of Cameron Karsten/ The Nature Conservancy

Presented by

Jennifer Whitener Ulrich illustrated headshot

Jennifer Whitener Ulrich
Corporate Operations Officer
The Whitener Group

As a co-owner of The Whitener Group, Jenn serves as COO of The Whitener Group and provides strategic facilitation and economic development support for tribes and tribal enterprises.

As the former Business Development Director for Island Enterprises (IEI), the economic development corporation for Squaxin Island Tribe, Jennifer was in charge of marketing and advertising for IEI’s eight diverse businesses. She was also responsible for researching, writing, and implementing business plans for many of the tribally owned corporations. Jennifer holds an MBA in Sustainable Business from Pinchot University.

Jenn’s expertise lies in economic development, strategic planning, nonprofit organizational development, entrepreneurial systems, marketing, and financial analysis.

When not in the office (which isn’t as often as it should be!) you will find Jenn spending time with her two daughters, beading on her loom (AKA learning the next hobby that has caught her fancy this month) or scouring thrift stores for lost treasures. You might also notice a countdown in her zoom background because she is forever waiting for November 1 when she is finally allowed to turn on her Christmas music.

Jon Hoekstra headshot

Jon Hoekstra
Executive Director
Greenway Trust

Jon leads the Greenway as Executive Director, working with the Board of Directors, staff, and partners to collaboratively conserve the Mountains to Sound Greenway landscape. Jon brings to the Greenway a unique blend of scientific understanding, strategic problem solving and communication skills. Before joining the Greenway Trust, he served as Chief Scientist for the World Wildlife Fund, and led a variety of strategy and conservation initiatives at The Nature Conservancy. While Jon enjoys traveling around the world to explore wild places, he always loves coming back home to Seattle and the Greenway landscape that he and his wife have called home for 20 years.

Jessie Israel

Jessie Israel
Conservation Collaboration + Indigenous Right Relations
The Nature Conservancy

Jessie supports Conservation Collaboration + Indigenous Right Relations for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). She joined TNC in 2015 as Puget Sound Conservation Director and sits on the Conservation Leadership Team in Washington State. In addition to leading TNC’s freshwater, stormwater and marine conservation efforts to restore Puget Sound estuary, she is a key partner for growing TNC’s culture and capacity to support community-led and Indigenous-led conservation efforts. A hallmark of her work is in listening deeply, and rapidly iterating toward finding human-centered solutions. She is proud to work with the team advancing the Conservancy’s Stormwater Heatmap, Stormwater Parks initiative, Floodplains by Design, Indian Country 101 training, Capacity Building for Equitable Public Funding Access strategy, and other efforts toward meeting TNC’s 2030 challenge.

As a public servant, consultant and non-profit leader, Jessie has a thirty-year track record of bringing together groups to invest in local community development, environment and equity issues - usually with a lens of demonstrating new approaches that solve for chronic challenges.

A fourth-generation Seattleite, Israel has a history of community service and has served on the boards of the Great City, Ballard Food Bank, City Year, and Women’s Political Caucus. Jessie spent more than two years as a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in rural Guinea, West Africa and has a BA in Political Science from Seattle University. She lives with her family in the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle.

Special Thanks to the Bureau of Land Management and
US Forest Service for Supporting this Program.

Bureau of Land Management
US Forest Service


Join the people who protect and manage our natural areas.