Latest: Lands returned to the Mountain Maidu tribe

The tribe is the first federally nonrecognized tribe to get lands back in California.

  • Lindsay Wood
 

BACKSTORY

About 150 years ago, white settlers claimed a 2,300-acre Northern Sierra valley that had long been home to the Mountain Maidu. Eventually, the parcel was granted to Pacific Gas and Electric Company. When the utility went bankrupt in 2001, a search began for a new owner to conserve the valley’s forests and streams “in perpetuity for public purposes.” The Maidu, a tribe of about 2,000 that is not federally recognized, competed with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife for ownership (“California tribe competes with the state to restore its homeland,” HCN, 9/7/11).

FOLLOWUP

In May, the Maidu Summit Consortium, which represents nine groups of Maidu, was named the owner of Humbug Valley. The first time in California that a non-recognized tribe has had its homeland returned, the action sets an important precedent. The Maidu will partner with a regional land trust and the state wildlife department to develop cultural and visitor centers and trails, and implement traditional ecological practices like burning and pruning.

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