Yosemite National Park Welcomes First Indigenous Ancestral Stewards Crew

Yosemite National Park recently introduced its inaugural Yosemite Ancestral Stewards (YAS) crew, marking a significant milestone in its commitment to preserving indigenous heritage and the environment.

This all-indigenous crew, based within Yosemite National Park, embarked on a mission centered on safeguarding and conserving the precious black oak groves. Their dedicated efforts involved transplanting hundreds of black oak saplings and clearing forest floor debris to foster a healthier ecosystem.

But their conservation work extended beyond the black oaks. The YAS crew also played a crucial role in building beaver dams, venturing on hiking excursions to resupply wilderness teams, collecting seeds, and transplanting various native plants to different work sites. In addition to their activities within Yosemite, they collaborated with the Ancestral Land Conservation Corp (ALCC), headquartered in Arizona, strengthening bonds between indigenous communities.

The overarching objective of the YAS crew is to actively engage indigenous individuals in the vital mission of preserving their cultural identity by healing and working in harmony with their ancestral lands.

As preparations for the coming year’s work plan are underway, applications for summer positions in 2024 will open in January. While the crew aims to involve members from the seven affiliated tribes, the opportunity is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 who shares a passion for this meaningful work.

If you find this endeavor intriguing and wish to contribute or learn more, reach out to Jeanine Lomaintewa at JLomaintewa@nps.gov or stay tuned for further updates on this inspiring initiative.

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