Tribal Members Taking Back Land In Huge Movement

( – Native American tribes are being offered opportunities to purchase or receive lands that were historically associated with their ancestors and many groups are taking up the offers. The Owens Valley in California was home to native peoples for centuries before America came along; the area is along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

A major aqueduct built in the early 20th century moved water from the Owens River 226 miles away to then-blossoming Los Angeles as its population was booming. Owens Lake has been reduced to a network of saline pools after the vast majority of water from the aquifer was transferred to LA.

Tribes who have a reservation in the area only hold 2,000 acres according to local Native American elder Teri Red Owl. Their land holdings are growing slowly due to local activists and community organizers engaged in online publicity and fundraising as part of the “Land Back” movement. The idea is to facilitate the transfer of historically indigenous lands to their living descendants.

Some examples include a recent purchase of 130 acres of land in Illinois by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and 850 acres in Virginia around the Mattaponi River. A combination of public policy changes and fundraising made the transfers possible. California also transferred a previously state-owned facility to native owners. The Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery is a stone hall and surrounding gardens that was transferred to the Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians earlier this year.

Another Californian property was sold in 2023 at a heavily discounted rate; the Three Creeks retreat was sold to a group of three Native American tribes for $900,000 when estimates for the property on the open market suggested a purchase price of $1.5 million.

Three Creeks is exceptionally beautiful and well-maintained and includes cherry, apple, and apricot trees on the property.

Teri Red Owl suggested that the property wasn’t there when her ancestors were, but she considers it sacred for all time.

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