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523 acres of redwood forestland in Calif. donated to tribal group

By Rich Klein

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Some 523 acres of redwood forestland in Mendocino County, Calif. -- known as The Lost Coast -- are being returned to a tribal council dedicated to its preservation and the history of Indigenous people who were once forced from the land.

The deal was announced Tuesday by Save the Redwoods League, which owned the land, and the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a non-profit consortium comprised of 10 federally recognized Northern California Tribal Nations with cultural connections to the lands and waters of traditional Sinkyone and neighboring tribal territories.

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The league purchased the 523-acre property, formerly known as Andersonia West, in July 2020.

"To ensure lasting protection and ongoing stewardship, the league has donated and transferred ownership of the forest to the Sinkyone Council, and the Council has granted the league a conservation easement," the group said in a news release.

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Catherine Elliott, senior manger of land protection for Save the Redwoods League, said in a video about the deal, "We can't undo what's been done, but we can help return people to the forest and the forest to them."

Through the partnership, the Sinkyone Council "resumes guardianship of a land from which Sinkyone people were forcibly removed by European American settlers generations ago," the league said in the release. "As an act of cultural empowerment and a celebration of Indigenous resilience, this forest will again be known as Tc'ih-Léh-Dûñ, pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn and meaning 'Fish Run Place' in the Sinkyone language."

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Crista Ray, a tribal citizen of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians and a board member of the Sinkyone Council, said, "Renaming the property Tc'ih-Léh-Dûñ lets people know that it's a sacred place; it's a place for our Native people. It lets them know that there was a language and that there was a people who lived there long before now."

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Tc'ih-Léh-Dûñ is the league's second land donation to the Sinkyone Council. The first, in 2012, was the 164-are Four Corners property, north of Tc'ih-Léh-Dûñ. The council also granted the league a conservation easement on Four Corners.

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