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Maidu Poised to Regain Ancestral Land

A 2,325-acre parcel of relatively pristine land that once belonged to the Maidu Indians in California called Humbug Valley will be theirs again.
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There is a 2,325-acre parcel of relatively pristine land that once belonged to a group of Maidu Indians in Plumas County, California called Humbug Valley. According to The Sacramento Bee, it’s the last remnant of their once vast homeland that is still in decent condition—and they are poised to get it back.

The Maidu have been trying for a decade to regain it so they can use traditional techniques to manage the land including the several endangered and sensitive species that call the area home.

“I thought this day would never come,” Lorena Gorbet, secretary of the Maidu Summit Consortium told the SacBee. She has been asking the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council twice a year for the last 10 years to return the land. The council finally unanimously recommended that the Maidu hold title to the land “in perpetuity.”

This is the first time ancestral lands will be returned to tribes that aren’t federally recognized—the Consortium consists of nine groups, only two of which are federally recognized.

It’s not a done deal just yet. The land currently belongs to Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and the Council’s recommendation has to be approved by them before the Maidu can fully regain their land.

But the Maidu are not worried. They held a day of drumming and singing on November 17 to celebrate the victory. They also honored Beverly Benner Ogle, a published historian and advocate for the valley. She was presented with a Maidu bow, the first woman to receive the honor.

“This gives me the urge to go out and tell the valley—the forest, the birds and the meadow—that Humbug Valley is once again Maidu land,” Ogle, who spent time in the valley as a child, told the SacBee.

The Maidu Summit plans to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a comprehensive land management plan to restore the forest and meadow habitats, including Yellow Creek, a state-designated wild trout stream.

Ric Notini, the council’s director of land conservation, said the two groups made a convincing argument that “epitomizes the collaboration that is a core value of the Stewardship Council,” reported the SacBee.