A northern California Indian tribe’s sacred land is now back under their ownership, thanks to the help of a conservancy group. (Source: CNN)
The Esselen Tribe, one of the state’s smallest and least well known tribes, inhabited the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur coast for thousands of years, according to their website. Nearly 250 years ago, their land was taken from then by Spanish explorers, according to the tribe’s history.
The tribe remained landless until Monday.The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County (ETMC) closed escrow on a $4.5 million deal with Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC), an environmental group, to purchase nearly 1,200 acres in Big Sur. The WRC acquires land with the purpose of finding a long-term steward that will conserve the natural habitat.
In October the group announced it helped the tribe to be rewarded a grant through the California Natural Resources Agency that covered the purchase of the land.”It is with great honor that our tribe has been called by our Ancestors to become stewards of these sacred indigenous lands once again,” Tom Little Bear Nason, Tribal Chairman of the ETMC, said in a statement in October.
“These lands are home to many ancient villages of our people, and directly across the Little Sur River sits Pico Blanco or ‘Pitchi’, which is the most sacred spot on the coast for the Esselen People and the center of our origin story.”