“The land is the most important thing for us. It is our homeland, the creation story of our lives. We are so elated and grateful” said Tom Little Bear Nason, chairman of the Esselen tribe.
An environmental group, Western Rivers Conservancy, has been instrumental for the northern Californian Indian tribe to regain its ownership to their sacred land after being taken away by the Spanish colony 250 years ago. As a result of a partnership between the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County and WRC, the California Natural Resources Agency grant the tribe $4,520,000 to acquire back Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur coast of which for thousands of years, they called home. WRC’s mission is to acquire land to find a long-term steward that will conserve the natural habitat.
Axel Adler, a Swedish Immigrant, owned the property until he died in 2004. The area piqued the interest of the environmental group because of its giant redwoods which are an ideal nesting place for California condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world. "These trees will be important for future effort to assist in redwood survival." Said WRC’s president Sue Doroff on an interview with CNN.
Now that the small part of the land was back to them, Nason told a media news outlet that they plan to use it to reinvigorate tribal culture, conduct traditional ceremonies and hold public educational events. There will be no permanent homes or businesses will be built on the property.