Oakland Could Return Land To Indigenous People

Posted By PowWow Articles September 15th, 2022 Last Updated on: September 15th, 2022

The city of Oakland, California, unveiled a plan last week to return five acres of land to indigenous people. If the plan is approved, it would make Oakland one of the first U.S. cities to give land back to Native Americans. 

The Oakland City Council will conduct hearings on whether to grant the land, which resides in a city-owned park, to the following local Indigenous organizations:

  • the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
  • the East Bay Ohlone tribe
  • the Confederated Villages of Lisjan Nation

The land, known as Sequoia Point, would be used for cultural practices, public education and natural resource restoration, according to the City of Oakland. 

Corrina Gould, a co-founder of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and Lisjan Tribal Chairwoman said in a statement:

“This agreement with the city of Oakland will restore our access to this important area, allowing a return of our sacred relationship with our ancestral lands in the Oakland hills. The easement allows us to begin to heal the land and heal the scars that have been created by colonization for the next seven generations.”

The Ohlone people, part of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan Nation, once inhabited Oakland and other parts of California's East Bay for millennia. After European colonists forcibly removed them in the 18th century, their land changed hands. 

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Gould began discussing the plan back in 2018, but now there's an official plan on the table. Schaaf said in a statement:

“I hope the work we are doing in Oakland with the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust can serve as a model for other cities working to return Indigenous land to the Indigenous community we stole it from.”

Oakland's land return is believed to be one of the first involving a federally unrecognized tribe. These tribes generally have no land base.

Featured Image Credit: Oakland Mayor's Office

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