SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — The Pit River tribe has gratefully received back some of its ancestral land along Hat Creek in eastern Shasta County.
Tribal members held a ceremony on Friday, November 5, on the 756 acres given to the Pit River tribe from PG&E as part of a court-ordered bankruptcy settlement. It has deep meaning to tribal members.
"When we had our ceremony, there were several eagles flying over, which is very spiritual for me. It's like a welcoming home and blessing of the land," said Pit River Tribe Chairwoman, Agnes Gonzalez. "It's just different signs we were receiving that day when we were there celebrating receiving our land back."
The land is now owned by the tribe, but the Shasta Land Trust has an easement to ensure it will remain undeveloped forever, and open for public access.
"We hope this is a starting off point for other land trusts and other tribes across the state of California to engage in these conversations to get back the land that was theirs and use it for amazing purposes," said Shasta Land Trust Executive Director, Paul Vienneau. "So, they're using for ancestral tribal rituals and ceremonies. They're doing amazing restoration work."
Land that was once used for cattle grazing has had great significance for generations of the bands that make up the Pit River Tribe.
"These areas are our burial sites: they're our places where our ancestors have come from," explained Pit River Environmental Director, Gregory Wolfin. "And so, we want to try and protect and preserve them because, otherwise, it would've turned to grazing."
This is the first of four parcels—a total of more than 5,000 acres—that will be returned to the tribe within the next couple of years.
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