Shasta Indian Nation to Reclaim 2,800 Acres of Ancestral Land in Northern California

The Shasta Indian Nation is set to regain over 2,800 acres of ancestral land in Northern California, as recently announced by Governor Gavin Newsom. This significant transfer includes land previously submerged by reservoirs created by Klamath River dams, which are currently being removed in the largest dam removal project in history.

Historically, the Shasta people have inhabited areas in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, specifically in the basins of the Klamath, Scott, and Shasta rivers. The land in question was taken through eminent domain by the Siskiyou Electric Power and Light Company, which later became the California-Oregon Power Company, or Copco, in the 1910s for the construction of the Copco dam.

“We welcome the opportunity to steward our ancestral lands in a manner consistent with tribal values and incorporating tribal ecological knowledge,” said Shasta Indian Nation chairperson Janice Crowe.

The Shasta Indian Nation plans to educate the public about the region’s history through the completion of the Shasta Heritage Trail, which will feature Native art and informational placards sharing the history of the Shasta people.

The Klamath River dam removal project stands as the largest of its kind in U.S. history, aiming to rejuvenate over 400 miles of river habitat essential for salmon and other aquatic species. By dismantling these longstanding barriers, the project promises to restore the river’s ecological balance and support the cultural and economic wellbeing of the communities and tribes that depend on it.

A representative from Newsom’s office did not comment on whether the state would work with the federal government to put the Shasta land into a federal trust. However, the Newsom administration’s policy supports partnering with California tribes to facilitate tribal access, use, and co-management of state-owned natural lands.

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