December 20, 2023

Hoopa Valley Tribe Regains Major Tract of Ancestral Land

This news release was originally published by The Hoopa Valley Tribe and was republished here with permission.

Return of 10,395-acre Hupa Mountain property to Tribe’s stewardship ‘a day of intense celebration’ 

HOOPA, Calif. (Dec. 20, 2023) — The Hoopa Valley Tribe announced today the acquisition of 10,395 acres of land bordering the western boundary of the Tribe’s Reservation. The return of the Hupa Mountain property brings the Tribe’s landholdings to a total of over 102,000 acres. When the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation was created, the Hupa people lost access to and use of more than two-thirds of their ancestral lands. The Tribe’s $14.1 million purchase of the land rightfully returns management, conservation and use of the land to Hupa People.

“Today is a day of intense celebration for our Tribe,” said Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman Joe Davis. “As a tribal nation that has long led the way in self-governance and self-determination, the Hoopa Valley Tribe worked hard to secure this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reclaim a meaningful portion of our ancestral lands. Many thanks to our Tribal Council for their leadership, our Tribal staff for their dedication and creativity, and the many public and private partners who helped make this possible.”

The acquisition of 10,395 acres previously held by New Forests, an Australia-based forestland manager, constitutes the Tribe’s largest reacquisition of land since the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation was established in 1864. The newly regained land includes the headwaters of Pine Creek, which flows into the Klamath River and is a spawning stream for sacred salmon. The land also provides gathering sites for food and basketry materials, along with a variety of plant and wildlife species that hold great importance in the Tribe’s culture.

Of special significance for a Tribe that has historically interwoven the health of its people with the condition of its land, this restoration is poised to improve both. The Tribe will use its expertise to restore the historic salmon run in Pine Creek, building on the inter-tribal and inter-agency efforts underway to restore the Trinity River and remove the dams on the Klamath River. Additionally, the Tribe’s wildlife managers have plans to rebuild the elk population — a traditional food source — by creating a network of high-elevation meadows. And tribal forestry staff will expand their work to aggressively fight sudden oak death, which affects the acorn crop and creates hazardous fire conditions that threaten both homes and the Tribe’s drinking water supply.

“There is still a lot of work to do — but we continue to make progress in getting back to where we need to be. There is hope in what we celebrate today,” Davis said. “Managing the land is an integral part of our identity and culture. Acquiring our ancestral territory allows the Hoopa Valley Tribe to sustain our traditions and improve the health and well-being of our people.”

The opportunity for the Tribe to regain these 10,395 acres emerged after New Forests put the land up for sale in 2022. Tribal leaders worked with The Conservation Fund, a leading nonprofit in U.S. land and water protection, to negotiate the deal and secure the necessary public and private funding to close on the purchase. The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit focused on improving access to the outdoors, also provided vital support in securing funding.

“We celebrate the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s historic achievement in regaining these 10,395 acres for the benefit of their people and the wildlife that inhabit this land,” said Ben Fryer, The Conservation Fund’s Northern California project manager. “It has been an honor to work with the Tribe to secure this outcome, and we thank the state of California, the private funders and the many other supporters who made this acquisition possible. We look forward to seeing this land thrive in the Tribe’s hands.”

For providing financial support for the acquisition, the Tribe thanks the California State Coastal Conservancy; the California Natural Resources Agency’s Tribal Nature-Based Solutions Program; Resources Legacy Fund; the Indigenous Communities Program of the Schmidt Family Foundation’s 11th Hour Project; Patagonia’s Holdfast Collective; and the Wyss Foundation.

For their advice, support, and in many cases, long-standing partnership, the Tribe thanks the Indian Land Tenure Foundation; the Native American Environmental Protection Coalition; the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; Redwood National Park; The Conservation Fund; The Trust for Public Land; State Sen. Mike McGuire; State Assemblymembers Jim Wood, James Ramos, and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry; U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman; Humboldt County Supervisor Steve Madrone; and Misti Schmidt of Conservation Partners LLP. The Tribe additionally thanks those entities and individuals not named here who made the acquisition possible.

Amy Hutzel, Executive Officer California State Coastal Conservancy, said, “the Conservancy is honored to support the return of this important conservation land to Hoopa Valley Tribal stewardship. The Tribe’s work to restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat, wildfire resilience, and public and tribal access to this property will benefit the land, the Tribe, and all the people of California.”

“We are proud to support this land acquisition of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Through the Tribe’s stewardship, the lands and waters, salmon, elk, humans, and other beings will be supported. This land purchase is also significant because it will demonstrate to others – through things like salmon restoration and fire management – what is possible when lands are returned to Tribal management,” said Hester Dillon (Cherokee Nation), Indigenous Communities Program Director at the 11th Hour Project.

“We are honored to join in celebration with the Hoopa Valley Tribe in the return of more than 10,000 acres of their ancestral land,” said Greg Curtis, Executive Director of Patagonia’s Holdfast Collective. “While more work remains to restore wild salmon and protect this critical ecosystem, today marks an important milestone. We are pleased to be working alongside such committed partners in the conservation of this area.”

“From salmon runs, to black bears, and majestic forests, the Pine Creek Watershed is home to some of the true wonders of the American West. Today’s announcement demonstrates the importance of expanding opportunity for tribal-led conservation efforts, which will play a major role in protecting America’s wild places and meeting the 30×30 target. We’re extremely proud to support this purchase, and to help restore the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s traditional homeland.” – Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation

“Today we celebrate a historic milestone with the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s resuming their relationship with their ancestral lands,” said Christina Snider-Ashtari, Tribal Affairs Secretary to Governor Gavin Newsom. “The Tribe’s reclamation of the Hupa Mountain [property] is a major step toward restoring balance in the region and the state will continue to support efforts like this in the spirit of truth and healing.”

“California Native American tribes are leading the way conserving California’s lands for future generations,” said California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “We are proud to support this leadership and help to enable the return of Hupa Mountain property to the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Ancestral land return like this is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do as tribal communities have cared for these lands since time immemorial.”

“We are honored to have the opportunity to partner with the Hoopa Valley Tribe for the return of the Hupa Mountain property,” said Geneva E. B. Thompson, California Natural Resources Agency Deputy Secretary for Tribal Affairs. “This return of ancestral lands is the first of many to be funded from the new $100 million Tribal Nature-Based Solutions grant program. We look forward to continuing to partner with California Native American tribes on their ancestral land return priorities.”

“Trust for Public Land is deeply honored to have played a pivotal role in jumpstarting the remarkable conservation success achieved by the Hoopa Valley Tribe with the acquisition of the 10,395-acre Hupa Mountain property,” said Dr. Ken Lucero, Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director for Trust for Public Land. “This collaboration exemplifies the positive outcomes that can result from shared dedication to environmental conservation and cultural heritage. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the Hoopa Valley Tribe and express our gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to this incredible land preservation initiative.”

The Hoopa Valley Tribe was one of the first Nations the Bureau of Indian Affairs selected to participate in the Self-Governance Demonstration Project; is among the few Tribes in the United States with developed Tribal Business Codes; was the first Tribe in California granted treatment as a state under the Federal Clean Water Act; and is a Tribal Nation on the forefront in the areas of forestry management, conservation and education.

The Tribe’s work to regain and restore ancestral lands is ongoing.

About Hoopa Valley Tribe
The Na:tinixwe, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, since time immemorial has recognized and prioritized the exercise of our inherent rights to provide opportunities for our people, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all. Hupa people have a deeply rooted traditional and cultural connection with the land that is integrally related to our citizens’ wellbeing. The Hoopa Valley Tribe’s ability to protect, conserve and control the use of lands and natural resources within our unceded ancestral territory and within the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation strengthens the integrity, economic security and health and welfare of the Hoopa People.

Media Contacts
Allie Hostler | Hoopa Valley Tribe | 707-492-2851 |
Josh Lynsen | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |