50,000 Acres of Land saved from deforestation in landmark ruling
Tens of thousands of acres of ancestral land were returned to the Yurok Tribe last month after a decade-long effort to save the area from deforestation.
The Green Diamond and Western Rivers Conservancy agreed to return 50,000 acres to the native people.
The effort was to preserve and place the land into tribal ownership, including thousands of acres of forest surrounding four salmon sustaining streams, including Blue Creek, according to tribal leaders.
Chairman of the Yurok Tribe thanked Green Diamond Resource Company and Western Rivers Conservancy for helping them in the reacquisition of an essential part of their ancestral territory.
Now, the tribe is in a position to permanently protect the area and the Blue Creek watershed.
The area is known as the crown jewel of the Klamath River.
“It is a good day for the Yurok people,” Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe said.
“On behalf of the Yurok Tribe, I would like thank Green Diamond and Western Rivers for assisting us in the reacquisition of a significant part of our ancestral territory and putting us in a position to permanently protect the Blue Creek watershed, which is the crown jewel of the Klamath River,” he said.
“These organizations have stood by us every step of the way during this 10-year project.”
The victory celebration was held on Aug. 19 at the Yurok Headquarters at 190 Klamath Blvd to mark the victory.
The welcome ceremony included an opening prayer, recognitions, and refreshments.
According to Wikipedia: The he Yurok lived in permanent villages along the Klamath River.
Some of the villages date back to the 14th century.
They fished for salmon along rivers, gathered ocean fish and shellfish, hunted game, and gathered plants.
The principal currency of the Yurok nations was the dentalium shell.
Alfred L. Kroeber wrote of the Yurok perception of the shell:
“Since the direction of these sources is ‘downstream’ to them, they speak in their traditions of the shells living at the downstream and upstream ends of the world, where strange but enviable peoples live who suck the flesh of univalves.”
The Yurok’s first contact with non-Natives occurred when Spanish explorers entered their territory in 1775.
Fur traders and trappers from the Hudson’s Bay Company came in 1827.
Following contacts with white settlers moving into their aboriginal lands during a gold rush in 1850, the Yurok were faced with disease and massacres that saw their population plummet by 75%.
In 1855, following the Klamath and Salmon River War, the Lower Klamath River Indian Reservation was created by executive order.
The Reservation boundaries included a portion of the Yurok’s aboriginal territory and most of the Yurok villages.
As a result, the Yurok people were not coercively removed from their traditional homelands.
They continue to live in these same villages today.