Secretary of Natural Resources Office


Environmental Resources

Environmental Resources consist of tangible and intangible elements in our surroundings that are of value to our society.  Humans cannot survive without relying on their environment, which hosts an abundance of resources far too numerous to list here all inclusively. A few examples include plants, animals, land, water, and forestry. Whether considering basic needs (food sources, housing materials) or societal activities (transportation, sporting & recreation, economic development); an overlapping pattern is seen among what resources are available and how they should best be utilized.  When interwoven with tribal tradition and cultural preservation, these issues only grow more intricate. Effective management of environmental resources from a tribal perspective requires tailored skills, cultural sensitivity, and familiarity with government programs necessary for co-management of shared resources and consultation across jurisdictions.

Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Resources group is led by Pat Gwin, Senior Director, who is formally educated in biology, botany, wildlife sciences, and chemistry. Mr. Gwin has been a pioneer for ecological quality since he started employment with Cherokee Nation in 1992. Pat is recognized for many initiatives, such as starting a Native plant garden, working with Cherokee agriculturalists to bring local food sources to Cherokee elders, rescuing bald eagles, testing for endangered species on tribal lands, assisting with the decommission efforts of nuclear regulatory commission sites, installing the Cherokee Nation’s first electric vehicle infrastructure & solar canopy and establishing the Cherokee heirloom seed bank program – which sends heirloom seeds to thousands of Cherokees  across the globe.  

Mr. Gwin is a true leader in the environmental sphere and plays an integral role in liaising for policies & projects between the Cherokee Nation and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and US Fish & Wildlife Service, among many others.  Pat has dedicated nearly 3 decades of his life promoting and preserving environmental resources for Cherokees and continues to do so in his daily leadership of tribal programs pertaining to agriculture, ethnobiology, forestry, fish & wildlife, Geographic Information Systems, and community services.

Heirloom Garden

The garden serves as an educational platform in the present and provides a legacy for future generations to understand the plants that their ancestors used.


Plants and animals have always held places of importance to the Cherokee people.

Tribal Historic Preservation

As a Federally Recognized Tribe, we have a designated Tribal Historic Preservation Officer to preserve our cultural heritage and protect our sacred places.

Seed Bank

The Seed Bank is a plant and cultural preservation program that provides seeds to tribal citizens who are interested in growing traditional Cherokees crops.