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California Redwoods Returned to Native American Tribes: NPR

The Save the Redwoods League has donated more than 500 acres of redwood woodland to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, an alliance of indigenous tribes that have been associated with the land for thousands of years.

Max Forster / Save The Redwoods League


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Max Forster / Save The Redwoods League


The Save the Redwoods League has donated more than 500 acres of redwood woodland to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, an alliance of indigenous tribes that have been associated with the land for thousands of years.

Max Forster / Save The Redwoods League

A conservation group is returning custody of hundreds of acres of redwood forest to a coalition of indigenous tribes that were displaced from the land by European and American settlers generations ago.

The Save the Redwoods League purchased the 523-acre site (known as West Andersonia) on the Lost Coast in Menodcino County of California in July 2020. It announced on Tuesday that it has donated and transferred ownership of the property to InterTribal Sinkyone Wild Councila consortium of 10 Northern California tribal states focused on environmental and cultural conservation.

The forest will be renamed”Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ“- means “where the fish run” in the Sinkyone language – as “an act of cultural empowerment and celebration of the resilience of indigenous peoples”, the federation said. in a release. The tribal council granted it a easy conservationmeaning that the land use will be restricted to protect itself.

“The renaming of the property Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ lets people know it’s a sacred place; it’s a place for our natives. It tells them there was a language and that someone has lived there a long time ago,” said Crista Ray, a tribal citizen of the Scotts Valley Band of the Pomo Indians and board member of the Sinkyone Council. She comes from East Pomo, Sinkyone, Cahto, Wailaki and other ancestors.

How does the transaction work?

The federation’s 2020 purchase of the forest is worth $3.55 million and is fully funded by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (the company behind many deadly forest fireswhich supports habitat conservation programs to reduce other environmental damage it has caused).

PG&E has reimbursed the federation and board for “management plan preparation and transaction costs,” the statement added, and contributed $1.13 million in funding to support joint management. custom of the region.

The creation of Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ supports meeting the power company’s 30-year conservation goals, which the federation says was developed in conjunction with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency has also approved a long-term management and management plan for the property.

What will their conservation efforts entail?

Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ is home to ancient trees, important water sources and many endangered species.

It includes 200 acres of coastal redwood forest and 1.5 miles of Anderson Creek, a stream and tributary of the South Fork Eel River.

“Second-growing redwoods, Douglas-firs, tanoaks and madrones also rise above a lush canopy of huckleberries, elderberries, manzanitas and ceanothuses,” the federation describes. This habitat supports endangered species such as northern spotted owls, steelhead trout, coho salmon, marbled trout, and yellow-footed frogs.

The council and federation say their partnership will protect the environment by preventing habitat loss, commercial timber operations, construction and other development.

They have a plan based on a combination of Indigenous land guardianship principles, conservation science, climate adaptation, and concepts of fire resistance to heal and preserve the area.

“We believe the best way to protect and permanently heal this land is through tribal governance,” said Sam Hodder, resident and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. “In the process, we have the opportunity to restore balance in the ecosystem and in the communities connected to it, while accelerating the speed and scale of conservation of iconic redwood forests. statue of California.”

Why Indigenous Guardianship is Important

Those involved in the partnership stress that the issue is not just about protecting the land – but about restoring property to the descendants of its original inhabitants.

Notably, the Sinkyone Council designated Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ as a tribal protected area.

“This designation recognizes that this place belongs to the traditional territory of Sinkyone, has been for thousands of years and remains an area of ​​great importance to the Sinkyones, and of great cultural significance to the Council. Sinkyone and its member tribes,” Priscilla Hunter, a tribal citizen of the Coyote Valley Band of the Pomo Indians and president of the Sinkyone Council, whose ancestry is North Pomo and Coast Yuki.

It joins another 180,000 acres of preserved land along the Sinkyone coast, the release notes. The council hopes that the acquisition will further expand the network of adjacent protected lands with similar ecosystems and cultural histories.

According to Hawk Rosales, the former executive director of the council, originally from Ndéh (Apache), the tribes gained greater protection at the landscape and regional levels.

Land donation can be contextualized as part of “landing back” movementan ongoing effort to return Indigenous lands – and autonomy – to Indigenous communities, especially public lands. like a national park. Research shows forced displacement and loss of historic lands drove Native Americans more vulnerable to climate change.

And this isn’t the first time the federation has donated land to Sinkyone Council – it has donated a nearby 164-acre site red wood lot in 2012, marked the first time Save the Redwoods entered into a conservation agreement with a tribal entity.

Indigenous peoples worldwide play an important role in environmental stewardship. According to a year 2021 United Nations policy briefthey represent about 5% of the world’s population, but effectively manage about 20-25% of land in areas that account for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity and about 40% of protected land.

This story originally appeared in the Morning version live blogs.

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