In California, on the West Coast of the US, 523 acres of forest used to be home to the ancient redwood tree. Today, due to logging and other human activity, there are mainly scattered stumps left. Luckily enough there are still 200 acres of redwood trees left that survived human activity. Once, this land was hunting, fishing, and ceremonial grounds to generations of indigenous tribes, before they were chased away. Now, the 523 acres of redwood forest is given back to the rightful owners.
Last Tuesday (the 25th of January), the Save the Redwoods League, which is a nonprofit organization, declared that the ownership of the land will be given back to the Native tribes. The nonprofit purchased the land back in 2020, and now the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, consisting of 10 Native tribes, owns it. The two organizations will care for the land and protect it from further damage.
“Fundamentally, we believe that the best way to permanently protect and heal this land is through tribal stewardship,” said chief executive of the Save the Redwoods League Sam Hodder during an interview. “In this process, we have an opportunity to restore balance in the ecosystem and in the communities connected to it.”
The Indigenous land defender and a former executive director of the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council Hawk Rosales, says:
“It is rare when these lands return to the original peoples of those places. We have an intergenerational commitment and a goal to protect these lands and, in doing so, protecting tribal cultural ways of life and revitalizing them.”
Before the purchase, this land was known as Andersonia West, but now it has been given a new name: Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ (pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn), and it means “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language.