California returns land on 5th anniversary of state apology to American Indians

The return is among the largest in state history.

Published: June 21, 2024 11:03pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) - California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the state’s support for a plan to give 2,800 acres of land to the Shasta Indian Nation this week. It came on the fifth anniversary of the state's apology to American Indians.

The return is among the largest in state history. It is one of the state's actions in its efforts to address wrongdoings against American Indian tribes in California.

“This work is a down payment on the state’s commitment to do better by the Native American communities who have called this land home since time immemorial," Newsom said in a statement. "By listening to and working with tribes across the state, including to return ancestral homelands and restore the environment, we are healing deep wounds and rebuilding trust between our people.”

Newsom visited the Klamath River dam removal project earlier this month. It is the largest river restoration project in American history. It will rehabilitate over 300 miles of salmon habitats; at the event, he discussed the ancestral land return with leaders of the Shasta Indian Nation.

The Shasta Indian Nation wants 2,820.860 acres of “Parcel B” lands associated with the dams.

“The Shasta Indian Nation is pleased with the Governor’s decision to support the return our ancestral lands and sacred sites," Shasta Indian Nation Chairperson Janice Crowe said. "Having access to our ceremonial sites, including the site of our First Salmon Ceremony, is critical to the spiritual and emotional health of our people. The ceremony has not taken place since the lands were taken by eminent domain for the construction of Copco dam over 100 years ago. This is transformative and the beginning of restorative justice for our people. We welcome the opportunity to steward our ancestral lands in a manner consistent with tribal values and incorporating tribal ecological knowledge. Land return also allows us to educate the public by completing the Shasta Heritage Trail that incorporates Native art in the design along with informational placards that share the history of Shasta people from Kikacéki.”

When Newsom apologized on California's behalf to the state's American Indian population five years ago on the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center, the governor announced the creation of the California Truth and Healing Council.

Working with the council, the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs, and various tribes across the state, California has created many programs and initiatives.

Here are some examples, according to the release:

The state’s ambitious goal to conserve 30% of lands and coastal waters by 2030, also known as the 30 x 30 initiative, with a core commitment to strengthening tribal partnerships; The Tribal Nature-Based Solutions grant program, which builds on the Governor’s direction for state entities to work cooperatively with California Native American tribes in returning ancestral lands in excess of state needs to tribal ownership, and support California tribes’ co-management of and access to natural lands within a California tribe’s ancestral land. The California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Tribal Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) Program which establishes agreements with tribes to ensure access and, in some cases, co-management of cultural and natural resources of concern or interest to the tribes within state parks. One such MOU led to the development of a Joint Powers Agreement, in partnership with the Yurok Tribe to reopen the Chah-pekw O’ Ket’-toh “Stone Lagoon” Visitor Center as the first tribally operated visitor center within the State Park system.

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News