California: Over 40 Acres of Ancestral Land Returned to Native American Tribe
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INYO COUNTY ~ Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will transfer over 40 acres of the Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery to the Fort Independence Indian Community, marking CDFW's first-ever land return to a California Native American tribe.

The Fort Independence Indian Community is a federally recognized tribe of Paiute people who have long protected and nurtured the ecosystem of the land. With the return of the land, they will be able to renew traditional, proven management of the land to create a healthier environment.

Governor Newsom said, "This marks another milestone in the partnership between California tribes and the state as we work together to build bridges and heal from the past. The Fort Independence Indian Community have lived on and stewarded this land since time immemorial – and in restoring their relationship with the land, not only will the land benefit, but so will all communities of this area and across the state."

Tribal Chairman Carl Dahlberg commented on how water is an integral part of Paiute culture, history and social structure. He said, "Our Indigenous Paiute members settled on the banks of Oak Creek since time immemorial and these lands have always been sacred to our people. Our worldview values the delicate ecosystem which connects us to this land which traditionally was a cultivation site for indigenous plants, such as taboose and nahavita. This property is inextricably intwined into who we are as Paiute people and we hope to bring this knowledge and history back to our community through preservation of Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery."

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Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider-Ashtari added that California Native people have a deep and meaningful relationship with lands and waters of what is now California. She said, "Every step that state can take to restore this relationship is another step toward healing. We celebrate with Fort Independence Indian Community and will continue in good faith to support tribal reunification with their homelands, cultures and practices."

In order to examine historical wrongs against Native Americans in California as well as promote access and inclusion for them, Governor Newsom has established a $101 million Tribal Nature-Based Solutions Program which supports tribal initiatives that advance well-being of their communities while helping achieve climate goals set by California. The grant program also helps tribes purchase natural lands in excess of state needs as well as co-manage natural lands within ancestral lands belonging to tribes.

Filed Under: Government, State

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