David Samuel Orr was born March 21, 1964. After childhood explorations in the woods of New England and the Virginias, David spent his youth in Washoe Valley, Nevada, where he learned his deep respect for the Earth and her First Peoples.

It was in Nevada that he began to exercise his environmental activism, joining a movement to defend the Western Shoshone rights to lands threatened by nuclear waste, mining, and the U.S. military. He later started the first composting program at the dorms of Evergreen State College in Washington, then interned with the Big Mountain Legal Defense Fund in Arizona. There, he helped tribal leaders resist government plans to relocate sheepherders in order to make room for more mining on Diné and Hopi lands. It was a defining experience in his life.

In 1985, at the age of 21, having been an accomplished wilderness survivalist throughout his life, David climbed Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. It was a valiant gesture made in defiance of his increasing awareness that a disease was taking his mind. Two years later, and after a diagnosis of schizophrenia, David took his own life.

In order to honor and celebrate him, we, his family, created the David Samuel Orr Fund for the Earth. We hope to continue the work he was so passionate about: supporting the grassroots efforts of Native Americans who act to protect and restore the lands, water, and air that is sacred to them.

Part of the story of David's life includes what happened at the end -- how he died without our knowing; how we continued to search for him, believing he had gone back to the wilderness he loved so much. An article written by Sacramento journalist Marcus Crowder was published after we finally learned when and how David's life ended. (To read the article, please see the link at right.)

We continue to learn from David through this work and we still hear from his friends, and ours, that he continues to be an inspiration: a warrior guide for loving the planet, for staying honest, and for building bridges of connection between people and the environment.

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