Claire Hope Cummings Bio Page

Claire Hope Cummings

Claire Hope Cummings: M.A., J.D., Environmental and Native Land Rights Lawyer, Author and Journalist

Claire Hope Cummings, M.A., J.D., is an environmental and native land rights lawyer and an award-winning journalist. Claire has been working in the civil rights, peace, and environmental justice movements ever since she was a student at U.C. Berkeley in the 1960’s. Her book Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds (Beacon Press) won the American Book Award and the book of the year award from the Society for Economic Botany.

Claire brings over three decades of broad experience in agriculture to her work. She has farmed in California and in Vietnam, where she had an organic farm in the Mekong Delta. For four years she was an attorney for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of General Counsel. After leaving government service Claire represented native people in defense of their ancestral lands. Claire founded The Cultural Conservancy in 1985 and continues to work with traditional people in Hawai’i and North America to preserve their knowledge systems and life-ways. She continues to study and write about seeds and plant knowledge, and how traditional ecological knowledge can meet the challenges of climate change and environmental justice.

Claire has been active in the local food and farming movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping to found the Marin County food policy council, and serving on the boards of organizations such as Earth Island Institute, The Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Food First, and the Elmwood Institute—the predecessor organization for the Center for Ecoliteracy. Claire was awarded a Food and Society Policy Fellowship in 2001. She advised The Columbia Foundation’s sustainable communities and food system programs for many years.

As a journalist, Claire was food and farming editor for KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Pacifica Network’s flagship public radio station, for six years, hosting a weekly radio broadcast that including Eater’s Digest and as a regular contributor to the popular drive time Morning Show. She reported for other public radio networks and PBS television on KQED-TV. She has produced award winning radio broadcasts for National Radio Project. Her work is regularly published in print and on line publications. Claire has contributed to and been featured in books and films, including “The Future of Food” and “Ripe for Change”, nationally aired on PBS.

As a lawyer, Claire has represented and advised environmental and native groups on environmental and cultural preservation throughout the U.S. In Hawai‘i Claire represented the Halawa Valley Coalition and The Hawai‘i La‘ieikawai Association during the H3 litigation and founded the first native land trust in the islands, Hui Aina o Hana. Claire represented the original Apache Survival Coalition plaintiffs against the development of Mt. Graham in Arizona. Claire has worked extensively with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe in Northern California, establishing protection for their sacred sites with cultural conservation easements and negotiating a U.S. Forest Service agreement to protect Panther Meadows on Mt. Shasta. She has worked with other traditional native groups in New Mexico, Florida and elsewhere.

Please Visit: Claire Hope Cummings’ Website