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 Kojóm (Humbug Valley, Plumas County) was the culmination of over 12 year of collaboration between the MSC, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Feather River Land Trust, PG&E, and the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council. The return of 2,300 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, non-profit, the MSC, worked diligently with the Stewardship Council and the other partners to make this unparalled and culturally significant land transfer a reality. Executive Director of the MSC, Kenneth Holbrook said the land donated back by PG&E holds great meaning to the Maidu. “The Maidu People take solace in the knowledge that we will forever be connected to our homeland, engaged with our heritage and our ways,” Holbrook said. “By owning Tásmam Kojóm, we have now reclaimed a future for our children that is uniquely Maidu. Our lives are renewed.”

Maidu youth join elders in a ceremonial ribbon cutting representing the return of their homeland.

From infancy, Kenneth Holbrook, has had a very special relationship to Tásmam Kojóm. For millennia, Ken’s family and other Mountain Maidu peoples lived and thrived in the region and in Humbug 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.

Yellow Creek near the Yellow Creek Campground

While the return of this special valley to the Maidu does not right wrongs of the past, it does mark a new chapter for the Maidu people and other communities and organizations in the region. 

Tásmam Kojóm, 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 will 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.

Monday, October 14, 2019