Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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After 250 Years, Tribe regains Big Sur ancestral lands

By Kyle Edwards, Native News Online, July 29, 2020

“It’s been nearly 250 years since the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County was stripped of its land, culture, and language by Spanish missionaries.

“But on [July 27], the Esselen tribe finalized the purchase of a 1,200-acre stretch of land near the scenic Big Sur — an area lush with meadows, oak woodlands, and old-growth redwoods.

“The deal gives the tribe a piece of land that is larger than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and will allow it to conserve old-growth redwoods and protect endangered wildlife. The Esselen tribe says it plans to use the land to revitalize culture and traditional ceremonies, as well as to educate the public about its culture and history. The tribe also will use the new acreage to build a sweat lodge and traditional village, eschewing businesses and homes from being built on the acquired land.

“ ‘It gives us space and the ability to continue our culture without further interruption,’ Tom Little Bear Nason, Tribal Chairman, Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. ‘This is forever, and in perpetuity, that we can hold on to our culture and our values.’ ”

Read the full article here.

Nason wrote more on LinkedIn:

“We are so honored to receive our indigenous sacred lands back to our Tribe!

“Thank you to all who helped us with this historic effort.

“We especially thank Western River Conservancy who secured this land of behalf of the Little Sur River, the Salmon, Steelhead, Redwoods and our people who have been oppressed by cultural genocide for over 250 years!

“A huge Thanks to the California Natural Resource Agency and all the great Staff who worked hard to help us secure the funds to buy this sacred spot in Big Sur, CA.

“This land is forever preserved and managed by the aboriginal Stewards of the region, The Esselen Tribe!”

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