Environment | Opinion

Valentin Lopez: Amah Mutsun Tribe works to preserve our land

Tribal members learn about traditional plant knowledge. Photo by Rick Flores / Amah Mutson Tribal Band

Valentin Lopez, the chairman of the Amah Mutson Tribe, support the creation of the Awaswas Coastal National Monument at the Coast Dairies property of California:
Our ancestors who lived on or near the Davenport watershed were the Cotoni (pronounced Chotoni) Tribe. The Cotoni spoke the Awaswas language, which was the language of the greater Santa Cruz area. Our creation story tells us that Creator very specifically selected our people to care for these lands and all life. The Cotoni raised their families; stewarded the lands; and gathered plants for food, medicine, basketry, housing, clothing and more. Our ancestors also offered important ceremonies to Creator to help ensure balance in their world.

The directive to care for these lands was a tremendous obligation. In 2006, elders reminded our tribal council that Creator never rescinded his directive to take care of Mother Earth. Since 2006 our tribe has been working to restore our indigenous knowledge regarding land stewardship. Our approach to stewardship means working to ensure native plants and animals are able to thrive, to help threatened or endangered wildlife recover, and to care for and sustainably use natural resources for traditional cultural purposes.

Traditionally our people did not own the land and we do not feel we need to own land today, but we must find ways to steward and heal Mother Earth. Additionally, it’s important to note our tribe is prepared to acquire land to protect culturally sensitive sites.

Get the Story:
Valentin Lopez, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band: Owe it to ancestors to protect the land (The Santa Cruz Sentinel 5/30)

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