The group of 10 tribes that have inhabited the area for thousands of years will be responsible for protecting the land dubbed Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ, or “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language.
Priscilla Hunter, the chair of the Sinkyone Council, said it is fitting they will be caretakers of the land where her people were removed or forced to flee before the forest was largely stripped for timber.
“It’s a real blessing,” said Hunter, of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. “It’s like a healing for our ancestors. I know our ancestors are happy. This was given to us to protect.”
The transfer marks a step in the growing Land Back movement to return Indigenous homelands to the descendants of those who lived there for millennia before European settlers arrived. In 2020, the Esselen tribe of northern California regained more than 1,000 acres of its ancestral homeland with a $4.5m deal involving the state and an Oregon conservation group. Such arrangements have become more common in recent years, allowing for the conservation of land and wildlife.