Native Lands: After 160 Years, A Homeland Comes Home
September 20, 2019: On a beautiful late summer day, tribal elders and youth, Maidu Summit Consortium (MSC) members, local community, and guests gathered near the banks of Yellow Creek to celebrate a historic moment—the return of Maidu homelands to Maidu people.
The celebration in Tásmam Koyóm (Humbug Valley, Plumas County) was the culmination of over 16 years of collaboration between the MSC, Feather River Land Trust, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council. The return of 2,325 acres of mountain meadows, forests, springs, and riparian habitat to the Maidu people was born out of a 2003 settlement agreement where PG&E agreed to conserve more than 140,000 of watershed land holdings in exchange for financial bankruptcy relief. The indigenous-led nonprofit, the MSC, worked diligently with the Stewardship Council and the other partners to make this unparalled and culturally significant land transfer a reality.
Maidu youth join elders in a ceremonial ribbon cutting representing the return of their homeland.
The land donated back by PG&E holds great meaning to the Maidu people. For millennia, Mountain Maidu people lived and thrived in the region and in the Tásmam Koyóm valley. However, with European colonization, settlement, and overly extractive land use practices, Maidu presence was nearly lost, and the land—and Maidu relationship to it—has suffered.
While the return of this special valley to the Maidu does not right wrongs of the past, it marks a new chapter for the Maidu people and other communities and organizations in the region.
Tásmam Koyóm, a scenic mountain meadow near Lake Almanor, is rich with native fish and wildlife habitats along Yellow Creek and important cultural resources. In an innovative partnership, FRLT and CA Department of Fish & Wildlife hold conservation easements on the 2,325-acre property. Blending Maidu traditional ecology and conservation science, the partners will work together to conserve and restore “the first Maidu national park.”
To learn more about this historic celebration and the return of native homelands read the press release by the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council.