California Redwood Forest Officially Reclaimed By Indigenous Peoples

California Redwood Forest Officially Reclaimed By Indigenous Peoples

A group of Native American tribes in northern California has resumed guardianship of a redwood grove they were forcibly evicted from by European-American conquerors years ago. In July 2020, the Save the Redwoods League paid $3.55 million for a 211.65-hectare (523-acre) section of redwood forest in the rugged northern California coastal area known as “the Lost Coast.”

The group announced this week that the site had legally transferred to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a coalition of ten federally recognized Northern California tribes. To pay homage to the forest’s history, it will be renamed Tc’ih-Léh-Dû, which means “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language.

In a statement, Crista Ray, a board member of the Sinkyone Council who is of Eastern Pomo, Sinkyone, Cahto, Wailaki, and other ancestries, said that renaming the property Tc’ih-Léh-Dû “let people know that it’s a sacred location; it’s a place for our Native people.” “It informs them that there was a language and that there were people who lived there long ago.”

“Today I stand on the shoulders of giants, my ancestors… to bring them honor, and to not let our old ways be forgotten, for our next generation, my children, grandchildren, and all the kids I’ll never get to see,” said Buffie Schmidt. Vice-chairperson the Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians and board treasurer of the Sinkyone Council is of Northern Pomo and other ancestries. Tc’ih-Léh-Dû is a coastal conifer forest with an astonishing diversity of plant life and trees, including redwoods, the world’s largest and tallest trees.

Coho salmon, steelhead trout, marbled murrelet, and northern spotted owl are among the uncommon and endangered species found there. For thousands of years, the Sinkyone, Cahto, Coast Yuki, Mattole, Nekanni, Pomo, and other surrounding lineages lived in the rough region that is now known as southern Humboldt County and northern Mendocino County.

When European invaders began violently displacing the local inhabitants in the 19th century, the status quo was seriously upset. State-sanctioned massacres, famine, diseases, and other crimes devastated the indigenous culture, and survivors relocated to reservations far from their natural homelands. Returning this property to its original owners will not only mark a momentous cultural and historical transition, but also it will also help to restore an old ecosystem that has been severely harmed by historical logging.

Tc’ih-Léh-Dû has been declared as a Tribal Protected Area by the Sinkyone Council, which prohibits commercial timber activities, fragmentation, development, or public access. “Today, the Sinkyone Council represents the original caretakers of this country, the Indigenous Peoples.” “They have a long and profound connection to the redwood forest,” said Sam Hodder, president, and CEO of Save the Redwoods League.

“It is an honor for the League to assist Native people’s return to this land and to work with the Sinkyone Council in their management and stewardship of Tc’ih-Léh-Dû.” We think that tribal management is the most effective method to permanently conserve and restore this land.” “We have the chance to restore balance to the ecosystem and the communities that are connected to it through this approach, as well as accelerate the pace and scale of conservation of California’s renowned redwood forests.”