SACRAMENTO, Calif. –
Five California tribes will reclaim management of historically important coastal land under a first-of-its-kind national program backed by $3.6 million in state funds. .
The tribes will rely on their traditional knowledge to protect more than 200 miles of coastline in the state, as climate change and human activity have affected the vast area.
Some of the tribe’s work will include monitoring salmon after the removal of a centuries-old defunct dam in the redwoods forests of the Santa Cruz mountains and testing for poison in shellfish, and educate future generations about traditional practices.
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The partnership comes three years after Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom apologized for the state’s previous violence and abuse of Indigenous peoples. Newsom said the state should allow more co-management of tribal ancestral lands.
Megan Rocha, a member of the leadership board of the Tribal Marine Stewards Network, said these coastal areas are culturally significant to different tribes, making the partnership monumental.
“It focuses on tribal sovereignty,” she said. “So how do we build a network where it provides collaboration, but again, it allows each tribe to do it the way they see fit and respects their sovereignty?” every tribe.”
The network plans to create agreements between the tribes and with the state government to manage these areas.
Rocha is also the chief executive officer of the Resighini Rancheria, a tribe of the Yurok people that are part of the network.
She has worked with other tribal leaders, members of nonprofit groups, and the state’s Ocean Conservancy Council, which coordinates the work of ocean-related public agencies, to develop developed a pilot program for the network for several years.
In 2020, Ocean Conservancy Council staff recommended the agency spend $1 million on a pilot program to support the network in conducting research, reaching out to tribes, and planning for the future.
Council voted Thursday to provide an additional $3.6 million that will support groups in their continued efforts to monitor coastal and oceanic resources, providing educational opportunities for members. tribes and pass on cultural knowledge to younger generations.
Inspired by similar partnerships in Australia and Canada, the groups say they expect other networks to blossom across the United States.
The leaders plan to expand the network to include more tribes across the state, Rocha said. California has 109 federally recognized tribes, the second-highest number in the country after Alaska. But there are also many tribes that are not federally recognized.
Many tribal leaders have consulted Newsom’s public apology to partially explain why the network’s public launch is happening now. In recent years, US officials have pledged to work with the tribes in the management of public lands.
Creating a network of tribes to govern the areas with support from state government money and nonprofit support, said Kaitilin Gaffney of the nonprofit Heritage Heritage Foundation. .
“I think we’ll look back in 20 years and be like, ` `Oh, there we are. That’s where it started. Look what’s happened since then,'” she said.
Several tribes in California and around the nation have had rights to ancestral lands restored under the Land Back movement.
About 60 attendees from nonprofit groups, tribal states, and the Ocean Conservancy Council gathered in Sacramento to celebrate the network’s public launch last week. The leaders thanked the experts, advocates, tribal leaders and public officials who made the launch possible.
Valentin Lopez, president of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, a member of the network, said climate change has forced governments with a history of exploiting indigenous lands to acknowledge the deep knowledge of indigenous lands. tribes for the protection of the ecosystem.
“We’re in crisis mode,” he said.