People Indigenous to the land, located in Northern California’s Mendocino County, were “forcibly removed” by European American colonists, according to the league. But today, the Sinkyone people have been empowered with the ability to reclaim — and rename — the land they believe rightfully belongs to them.
“Renaming the property Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ lets people know that it’s a sacred place; it’s a place for our Native people,” Sinkyone Council board member and tribal citizen Crista Ray said in a statement. “It lets them know that there was a language and that there was a people who lived there long before now.”
Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ, pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn, means “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language, according to the release.
“Today I stand on the shoulders of giants, my ancestors … to bring them honor, and to not let our old ways be forgotten, for our next generation, my children, my grandchildren and all the kids that I’ll never get to see,” Buffie Schmidt, tribal citizen and vice chairperson of the Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians, said in a statement.
“Our ancestors are still here, they’re still around us. As I listen to the wind, I feel like my ancestors — who I’ve never even known in my lifetime — are here and happy that we call this place something that they’re familiar with: Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ.”
Now that Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ has been reunited with “the original stewards of this land,” league president and CEO Sam Hodder said, the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council will partner with the organization to protect the forestland and all its wildlife.
Eventually, the Indigenous people were expelled, and lumber companies discovered how cheap and easy it would be to log and profit from the trees.
“We believe the best way to permanently protect and heal this land is through tribal stewardship,” Hodder said. “In this process, we have an opportunity to restore balance in the ecosystem and in the communities connected to it, while also accelerating the pace and scale of conserving California’s iconic redwood forests.”
This is the second time Save the Redwoods League has donated land to the council, with the first being the 164-acre Four Corners property located north of Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ.
“The Council and League plan to apply a blend of Indigenous place-based land guardianship principles, conservation science, climate adaptation and fire resiliency concepts and approaches to help ensure lasting protection and long-term healing for Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ and its diverse flora and fauna,” the release said.