On the importance of protecting land sacred to Native communities

To honor ancestors and save old-growth trees, the Sinkyone Intertribal Council has become the steward of thousands of acres in California.

“The trees are precious to us,” says Priscilla Hunter. “We believe our ancestors’ spirits are there.”

Hunter is a member of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians in Northern California. She’s also a founder and chairwoman of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council (and the person holding the staff in the photo above).

In 1997 the council acquired 3,844 acres of the Sinkyone wilderness, about 200 miles north of San Francisco along California’s Lost Coast. It’s “lost” because scenic Highway 1 avoids it, cutting inland to dodge the rugged coastal terrain. One could also say it’s lost because less than 2 percent of the original old-growth redwoods there survived logging decades ago. Now the 10 tribes that formed the consortium are working

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