SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. – The Karuk Land Return Bill was signed by President Biden on January 6th, placing 1,000 acres of land in a trust for the local tribe.
As of the 6th, 1,000 acres of land across Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties, which had previously been under the management of the US Forest Service, have been transferred back to the Karuk Tribe.
The tribe said the land holds many sacred spaces, including what they consider as the center of the world, where they have performed their religious ceremonies for generations.
The tribe’s Chairman, Buster Attebery said, this is a huge step forward in protecting their culture and religion for generations to come.
“What it means for the Karuk Tribe, is that we will now to able to practice those ceremonies without any interruptions from the outside world,” said Attebery.
Attebery said before the transfer they were still able to hold ceremonies, but their privacy was often disturbed by rafters and fishermen.
He said people have also flown drones overhead to observe their practices in the past.
Attebery said they are planning to work with the forest service to manage the land, to enhance streams and timber using modern science with tribal ecological knowledge.
“This is not an area where we are going to put a casino on, or develop for housing, or put a resort on. Our plan is to restore those lands to their natural state,” said Attebery.
He said tribal knowledge has been left out of forest management in the past. They plan to reintroduce fire to the landscape to mitigate future wildfires.
He hopes this restoration project will set an example for other projects across the county.