Tucked away in Northern California’s Mendocino County, the 523-acre rugged forest with the ghostly stumps of ancient redwoods was harvested during a logging boom that has wiped out more than 90% of its species. on the West Coast. But about 200 acres are still densely packed with old, unlit redwoods.
The land was the site of hunting, fishing and ritual for generations of indigenous tribes such as the Sinkyone, until they were largely driven out by European settlers. On Tuesday, a California nonprofit dedicated to preserving and preserving redwoods announced that they are unifying the land and its original inhabitants.
The group, the Save the Redwoods Association, which could purchase the forest with company grants in 2020, says it is transferring ownership of the 523-acre property to the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a group of 10 sets indigenous tribes whose ancestry is “forcibly displaced” from the land by European and American settlers, according to a statement from the tournament.
The tribes will act as defenders of the land in partnership with the Save the Redwoods Federation, which has protected and restored redwood forests since 1918.
“Basically, We believe that the best way to permanently protect and heal this land is through tribal stewardship,” said Sam Hodder, executive director of the Save the Redwoods League, in an interview. on Tuesday. “In the process, we have a chance to recover balance in the ecosystem and in the communities connected to it.”
For more than 175 years, members of the tribes represented by the council had no access to the sacred ground they used for hunting, fishing, and rituals.
Hawk Rosales, an indigenous land defender and former executive director of the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, said in an interview on Tuesday: “It is rare that these lands return to the peoples. origin in those places.
“We have a intergenerational commitment and a goal to protect these lands and, by doing so, preserve the tribal cultural lifestyles and revive them,” he added.
As part of the deal, the land, known before the purchase as Andersonia West, will be called Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ (pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn), means “Where Fish Run” in Sinkyone language.
“Rename the property Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ so people know it’s a sacred place; it’s a place for our natives,” Crista Ray, a board member of Sinkyone Council, said in the statement. “It tells them that there was a language and that there was a person who lived there a long time ago now.”
According to the statement, Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ is an important addition to the preserved lands along the Sinkyone coast, about five hours north of San Francisco. The newly acquired land is located west of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park and north of Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness, another reserve, acquired by Sinkyone Council in 1997.
The council’s goal, explained Mr. Rosales, is to connect and expand the redwood forests in the region, which are ecologically and culturally linked, to repair “fragmented ecosystem components.” fragile and threatened.” by colonial settlement.
Redwoods aren’t the only endangered species in the forest. The land is also home to coho salmon, steelhead trout, marbled murrelet (a small seabird) and northern spotted owl – all listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Since 2006, the Redwoods League has been chatting with a California logger family who has owned the land for generations. Mr Hodder explained that after years of building a relationship with the family, the union was able to purchase the land in 2020 for $3.55 million. The purchase amount was sponsored by Pacific Gas & Power Company as part of a program to reduce environmental damage.
The Redwoods League still retains a comfortable property. “Our goal is just to make sure we are adding capacity and support to councils as they advance their own recovery and management goals,” explains Mr Hodder.
This is the second time the Save the Redwoods Federation has donated land to the council. In 2012, it transferred a 164-acre estate north of Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ, known as the Four Corners, to Sinkyone.
For Mr. Rosales, the importance of incorporating these culturally important lands is not only to preserve nature but also to allow tribes to have a closer connection with their ancestors.
“Descendants of those ancestors are among us today in member tribes,” said Mr. Rosales. “There are families that trace their lineage to this place, basically, and the surrounding area. They are connected to their ancestors, and this is a way to reaffirm that.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/us/california-redwoods-native-american-conservation.html California’s Redwood Forest Is Returned To Indigenous Tribes