Lynn Valbuena: Tribes strive to be good stewards of their land

Lynn Valbuena. Photo from NMAI Blog

Lynn Valbuena, the chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California, explains why tribes care about their ancestral lands:
Indian tribes across the United States have the same claims to ancestral or aboriginal lands as places of each tribe’s creation, places where their ancestors are buried, and lands that still hold sacred sites and significant cultural resources. These ancestral lands define each Indian tribe with strengths and a unique identity.

The late Maurice Lyons, former chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, recalled in an L.A. Times story in 2003 that when he was a young boy, white ranchers put up fences to keep Morongo tribal members from a lush canyon where wild grapes and sage grew, and where he hunted deer and rabbits with an old .22 rifle. As tribal chairman, Lyons made it a priority to buy back as much of their ancestral lands as possible.

Victoria Bomberry, professor of Native American Studies at UC Riverside, stated that it has long been the aim of tribes across America to reclaim their traditional lands.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in Southern California hold the vast Serrano ancestral territories as sacred lands to be protected and preserved as much as possible to benefit future generations of Serrano and maintain a heritage we all share as Californians. Extending from just east of Los Angeles to Twenty-Nine Palms, and from north of Barstow south to the San Bernardino Valley, these homelands hold the same value and significance to the Serrano that the Black Hills do to the Great Sioux Nation.

Get the Story:
Lynn Valbuena: Native American ancestral lands — we should all be good stewards (The Daily Bulletin 11/27)

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