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News Release

Yurok Tribe

Today, Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James will be testifying at a Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States hearing on the much-anticipated Yurok Lands Act.

The House of Representatives subcommittee has jurisdiction over Native American issues. The 2 p.m .(EST) hearing can be viewed here:

The paradigm-shifting Yurok Lands Act seeks to strengthen the Tribe’s sovereignty and capacity to self-govern, as well as improve tribal infrastructure. The bill also aims to revise the reservation boundary to include land the Tribe purchased within its ancestral territory. U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced the important piece of legislation in February of this year. Its cosponsors include Representatives Norma Torres (D-CA), Darren Soto, (D-FL), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Tony Cardenas (D-CA).

“The Yurok Lands Act puts us in a better position to determine our own destiny,” said Joseph L. James, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We sincerely thank Congressman Huffman and all of the bill’s cosponsors for pushing the legislation forward.”

“This bill is important to us because it improves our ability to protect and preserve our cultural resources for future generations of Yurok people,” added Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers.

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The Yurok Lands Act Accomplishes the following:

  • Transfers 1,229 acres of U.S. Forest Service land known as the Yurok Experimental Forest into trust for the tribe .
  • Redraws the reservation boundary line to encompass the Yurok Experimental Forest, recently purchased fee land and a U.S. Forest Service property in proximity to the Blue Creek watershed, one of the Tribe’s most sacred areas.
  • Positions the Yurok Tribe to directly participate in federal land management decisions within the revised Yurok Reservation. 
  • Mandates federal land management agencies to consult with the tribe before major actions on federal land that may affect the amended Yurok Reservation boundary.
  • Affirms the Yurok’s governing documents to strengthen tribal governance and sovereignty.
  • It does not alter the rights of neighboring tribes and local interests.

Tribal representatives will be travelling from Washington DC to New York City to accept the United Nations Development Programme’s prestigious Equator Prize. Selected for its forward-looking approach to forest management, the Yurok Tribe is one of the first indigenous nations in the United States to receive the international accolade. This year’s 22 Equator Prize winners were chosen from a pool of 847 nominations spread across 127 countries. The 22 organizations will be honored at a gala on September 24, 2019 as part of the 74th United Nations General Assembly.