Local Tribal leader Jim McQuillen has been recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union and awarded the 2017 Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award.

The award honors individuals who have distinguished themselves as leaders in the battle to preserve and expand civil rights and liberties.

McQuillen is the Yurok Tribe’s education department director.

“Mr. McQuillen has worked tirelessly to empower American Indian youth and strengthen minority students’ civil rights. Through his ongoing leadership, local American Indian, history, language, and culture are now included in many public school classrooms in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties,” according to a recent release from the ACLU. “He strongly advocates for all local Del Norte K-12 teachers, administration and staff to use the curriculum, created by the Yurok Tribe, on local American Indian history and culture for grades 3,4,5,8 and 11th grades.”

McQuillen said he would like to see all local school districts incorporate the course. He said research shows American Indian students perform better when their heritage is recognized in the classroom.

“The ACLU of Northern California is inspired by Jim McQuillen’s service and dedication and is honored to celebrate his leadership with this award,” the release states. “Both McQuillen and the ACLU will continue to push for inclusion and equity for Northern California’s Native youth.”