A MESSAGE FROM CHAIRMAN VALENTIN LOPEZ
Our Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT) is happy to share with you the second edition of our newsletter. The big news for our Land Trust is that we recently made a commitment to hire our first Executive Director, who will be joining us on October 1. We look forward to formally introducing you to the new Executive Director in our next newsletter.
Sempervirens Fund has been our fiscal sponsor since October 2013. In that time our AMLT has made tremendous progress and now our new Executive Director will lead us into the future as an independent land trust. The respect and trust we have for Sempervirens Fund could not be greater. Ho! to Sempervirens.
While giving a talk recently, I was asked what is the most important thing to know about traditional Mutsun stewardship. This was an easy question. The most important thing to know is that traditional stewardship involves creating a loving relationship with Mother Earth. Therefore we must treat Mother Earth as we do our biological mother: we must love her, show her appreciation by protecting her and giving her respect. We must trust that our mother will teach us all that is good and protect us from harm as long as we carefully listen to her. Perhaps the most important thing for us to do for our relationship is to pray for Mother Earth. We must continually pray and hold ceremonies so that Mother Earth can have balance. It’s important that there be balance in the four seasons so that there is not too much drought or too much rain. We must have balance in what we take from Mother Earth compared to what we give her. Our loving relationship also means that we recognize the plants, the four legged, the winged, the finned, the water and all things that Creator gives us as our relatives. Only when people recognize the importance of this relationship will Mother Earth begin to heal.
During the month of June our AMLT participated in a four week archaeological field study on California State Parks and Recreation property north of Santa Cruz. This study was conducted by AMLT Board Member Dr. Kent Lightfoot, California Department of Parks and Rec. District Archaeologist Mark Hylkema, and AMLT Research Associate Dr. Rob Cuthrell, UCB, with additional support from U.C. Santa Cruz. This study covered four known archaeological sites including one that is recognized as being one of the most important archaeological sites on the California coast. One of the goals of our AMLT is to conduct research that will help us learn how our ancestors lived before contact. We have previously conducted research on a site that provided good information regarding our ancestors going back 1,000 years. We believe the findings from this research will help us learn how our ancestors lived going back 6,300 years. This research also includes studying periods of time when our ancestors had to deal with severe drought, heat and cold due to climate change. This was difficult work; approximately 25 persons, including five Mutsun Stewards and a Tribal elder, lived in tents with no running water for the four week duration of the study.
On May 26th our AMLT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that provides tribal members access to their 5,800 acre Coast Dairies properties at Davenport, CA. This access will allow our members to restore traditional Native stewardship to these lands. We will also be allowed to collect our traditional plants for food, medicine, basketry and so much more. Our AMLT will also conduct research on this project to identify and protect our cultural sites and to learn as much as we can about our ancestors who were here before us. Finally, per the Memorandum of Understanding, our tribe will provide educational interpretation and facilitate collaboration to help guide management planning at Coast Dairies. This partnership is in recognition that the traditional land stewardship will restore, enhance and promote a healthy ecosystem for present and future generations.
As we build new partnerships, learn more about our history with cutting-edge research, and continue to honor our relationship with Mother Earth, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust is moving forward on our path to heal Popeloutchom. Thank you for reading our newsletter and supporting our vision.