One truly effective change we can make is to replace our current conservation efforts by states, and local authorities with proven indigenous TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge). Most recently, there has been modest acknowledgement that more needs to be done in the way conservation lands are managed. Due to the crisis atmosphere of catastrophic fire and climatic change, a few academic institutions and natural resource managers are studying the way Indigenous people used fire to reduce fuel loads and the threat of catastrophic fires.
Land under Indigenous conservation has dwindled from 100% to less than 5% in the United States. In California those numbers even less as Indigenous conservation of land and fire prevention is at 3.8% of all lands.
In the past decade, over 6 million acres have been destroyed in wildfires. The acidification of our freshwater lakes and rivers has significantly reduced wildlife throughout the state. Most Native Alaskan and Native American Nations are at a pivotal time in the history of land and water conservation.
Contemporary conservation organizations, including state and federal governments, have focused on land acquisition with very little attention dedicated to the importance of stewarding the lands and waters, so that they provide for a sustainable future. It is for this reason that we now have catastrophic fires that sterilize the ground, burn houses, and destroy wildlife and their habitats.
Native lands trusts have the traditional knowledge, passion, and moral authority to meet these challenges and protect America’s most treasured lands. However, the thousands of years of Indigenous knowledge are ignored by scientists and land managers, and Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous leadership are not incorporated into land and water management policy and practice.
When new opportunities to take action become available, we will post them here.
The Native Land Trust Council (NLTC) is a nonprofit organization established to help Indigenous peoples and the public reconnect and maintain their connection with the land. NLTC is a collaboration of five native land trusts: Amah Mutsun Land Trust, Kumeyaay Diegueno Land Conservancy, Maidu Summit Consortium, Native American Land Conservancy, and Native Conservancy. The NLTC’s purpose is to promote the conservation of Indigenous land, culture, and stewardship through initiatives and activities of Indigenous Peoples. These include land trusts and other not for profit organizations carrying out charitable, public, and educational activities.
The NLTC currently works within the state of California facilitating the development of relationships with Tribes and assisting their efforts to create land trusts or partnerships with existing organizations doing similar work on ancestorial homelands. The goal of NLTC is to ensure the conservation of land, forests, and wildlife through Indigenous knowledge and leadership.
The NLTC Board of Directors and staff are comprised of experts with decades of experience in the field of conservation, collaboration with Tribal entities, and deploying Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).
Valentin Lopez, Amah Mutsun
Daniel Martin, Executive Director, Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux, Chickasaw, and Choctaw