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Trust in the Land

By Beth Rose Middleton

Publication Year: 2011

“The Earth says, God has placed me here. The Earth says that God tells me to take care of the Indians on this earth; the Earth says to the Indians that stop on the Earth, feed them right. . . . God says feed the Indians upon the earth.”

—Cayuse Chief Young Chief, Walla Walla Council of 1855

America has always been Indian land. Historically and culturally, Native Americans have had a strong appreciation for the land and what it offers. After continually struggling to hold on to their land and losing millions of acres, Native Americans still have a strong and ongoing relationship to their homelands. The land holds spiritual value and offers a way of life through fishing, farming, and hunting. It remains essential—not only for subsistence but also for cultural continuity—that Native Americans regain rights to land they were promised.

Beth Rose Middleton examines new and innovative ideas concerning Native land conservancies, providing advice on land trusts, collaborations, and conservation groups. Increasingly, tribes are working to protect their access to culturally important lands by collaborating with Native and non- Native conservation movements. By using private conservation partnerships to reacquire lost land, tribes can ensure the health and sustainability of vital natural resources. In particular, tribal governments are using conservation easements and land trusts to reclaim rights to lost acreage. Through the use of these and other private conservation tools, tribes are able to protect or in some cases buy back the land that was never sold but rather was taken from them.

Trust in the Land sets into motion a new wave of ideas concerning land conservation. This informative book will appeal to Native and non-Native individuals and organizations interested in protecting the land as well as environmentalists and government agencies.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

When I was a small boy, I was afraid of the dark. One evening, my mother was baking some bread, and she ran out of flour for the second or third bake. She asked me to walk across the country road and go to our neighbor’s house to borrow some flour, but I told her I could not go alone. ...

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Preface: The Heart K Ranch

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pp. xiii-xxii

In May 2009, I joined a Sierra Institute1 tour of the Heart K Ranch in Genesee Valley in California, entitled “Maidu Way of Life” and led by Farrell Cunningham (Mountain Maidu), his father Marvin Cunningham (Mountain Maidu), and members of the Feather River Land Trust Board and staff. ...


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pp. xxiii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-6

Land trusts did not originate in Native America, but the traditions of working to buy back confiscated lands and to retain rights to lands not in tribal ownership are well known in Indian Country. Tribes have long been working to buy back or petition for the restitution of culturally important lands taken from their communities during the European settlement of the United States.2 ...

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2. Context of Private Conservation

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pp. 7-33

The use and applicability of private conservation tools, such as conservation easements and land trusts or conservancies, has expanded exponentially over the last two decades. According to the 2005 land trust census taken by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), there were 1,667 land trusts in the United States, up 32 percent from 2000.1 ...

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3. Environmental Justice and Tribal Conservation

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pp. 34-42

The book’s cases are examined through the lens of conservation easements and land trusts for both procedural and distributive environmental justice. A comprehensive look at environmental activism over the last two centuries shows that environmental justice is actually an old concept.1 ...

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Section One: Native American Land Conservation Organizations

This section focuses on the development and sustainability of specifically Native American land trusts and conservancies. In these cases, tribes and individual Native Americans have adapted the land trust model to a Native framework. ...

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4. InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council (California)

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pp. 45-64

In 1986, seven California Indian tribes formed the first intertribal Native American land-conservation organization in the United States to protect the Sinkyone rain forest and its numerous cultural and ecological values.1 The organization’s member tribes retain deep historic, ...

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5. Native American Land Conservancy (California/National)

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pp. 65-86

The sacred lands that the Native American Land Conservancy (NALC) focuses on are vital to cultural identity, historical continuity, and contemporary healing from intergenerational trauma due to the historic and contemporary impacts of colonialism. ...

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6. The Art and Science of Creating a 501(c)(3) Native American Land Conservancy

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pp. 87-97

This chapter covers some of the basic considerations for establishing and maintaining a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Native-controlled organization dedicated to land conservation. Creating a nonprofit organization is not the only, or always the best, approach for conserving lands important to Native people. ...

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Section Two: Collaborations between Tribes and Land Trusts

This section transitions from examining Native American land conservancies to looking at partnerships between tribes and non-Native land trusts. In the following cases, the tribe, a Native nonprofit, an individual, or in some cases, the non-Native land trust owns the land. ...

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7. Mitigation of Tribal Development: Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (California)

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pp. 101-108

The Wintun have lived in and around rural Yolo County in California’s Central Valley for thousands of years, stewarding rich landscapes like the oak woodlands and riparian corridors of the Capay Valley. In 1909, the Federal Government established the Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians,1 creating a designated living area for Native people displaced by the incoming settlers and ranchers. ...

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8. Senate Bill 18 (Burton) and Mitigation of Non-Tribal Development: Morongo Band of Mission Indians (California)

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pp. 109-118

Morongo Reservation lands in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California were set aside by executive orders in 1876 and 1881.1 Residents are primarily Cahuilla but also include Serrano, Cupeño, and Chemehuevi people.2 ...

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9. Developing Cultural Conservation Easements: Little Traverse BayBands of Odawa Indians (Michigan)

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pp. 119-128

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is composed of Odawa people native to the area now known as the state of Michigan. Odawa traditional lands extend from the forested Upper Peninsula in the north to the lower and warmer lands of southern Michigan.1 ...

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10. Native Nonprofits and Petitioning Tribes: Tsi-Akim Maidu (California)

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pp. 129-137

Tsi-Akim Maidu tribal members are descended from Mountain Maidu in Plumas and Lassen counties, as well as Concow and Nisenan Maidu in Placer, El Dorado, Butte, Yuba, and Nevada counties in California. The Tsi-Akim have mapped some of this complex descendancy in an “Ancestral Nexus” map that is in progress and available from the tribe on request.1 ...

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11. Alaska Native Lands: Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (Alaska) and Nushagak–Mulchatna Wood–Tikchik Land Trust (Alaska)

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pp. 138-162

Alaska’s Native homelands form a complex and unique mosaic of land ownership. Alaska is over 60 percent federally owned (238 million acres), with the largest agency landowner being the Bureau of Land Management, which has 82.5 million acres under its control. ...

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12. Land Purchases and Fee-to-Trust Considerations: Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe (Washington)

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pp. 163-174

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is located on Washington State’s forested and marine Olympic Peninsula, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The tribe’s livelihood historically revolved around salmon, shellfish, and other natural resources.1 ...

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13. Land Purchases and Fee-to-Trust Considerations: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (North Carolina)

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pp. 175-184

Qualla Boundary, the Eastern Band of Cherokee reservation, is located on the forested eastern flanks of the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. The Cherokees believe that they have always lived in western North Carolina, and archaeological evidence corroborates their presence there for more than 11,000 years.1 ...

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14. Watershed Protection: Nisqually Indian Tribe (Washington)

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pp. 185-194

The Nisqually, or Squalli-Absh, homeland is located along the Nisqually River in western Washington, 10 miles east of the city of Olympia, at the southern end of Puget Sound. In 1854, Washington territorial Governor Isaac Stevens and representatives of Nisqually, Puyallup, Steilacoom, Squaxin, and other tribes negotiated the Treaty of Medicine Creek. ...

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15. Partnerships for Native Land Management: Cache Creek Conservancy Tending and Gathering Garden (California)

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pp. 195-209

The Cache Creek Conservancy (hereafter, the Conservancy) is a nonprofit organization formed in 1995 by a group of citizens that sought to promote restoration and improve the riparian corridor along Cache Creek. The creation of the Conservancy represents a long-awaited compromise between industrial, farming, environmental, ...

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Section Three: Tribes and NRCS Conservation Tools

A discussion of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs is particularly germane to a book on tribal participation in private conservation. It is NRCS’s mandate to work with landowners interested in implementing conservation and restoration programs on private or tribal lands. ...

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16. Tribal Resource Conservation Districts, the Coarsegold Resource Conservation District, and the Susanville Indian Rancheria (California)

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pp. 213-222

Soil and water conservation districts are local-level, formal civic institutions that have state and federal mandates to identify and address local conservation needs. The 1930s “Dust Bowl” crisis, when millions of acres of cropland were destroyed by drought and attendant soil loss, ...

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17. Conclusion

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pp. 223-251

Tribes and Native organizations are using conservation tools in innovative ways to conserve cultural resources and to regain a stake in the stewardship of their traditional homelands. Using easements, land trust structures, and other conservation mechanisms to achieve indigenous goals increases the range and relevance of these tools, ...

Appendix: Interviewees

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pp. 253-256


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pp. 257-301


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pp. 303-314


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pp. 315-322

E-ISBN-13: 9780816502295
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816529285

Publication Year: 2011