WHY I HAVE JOINED THE AMAH MUTSUN LAND TRUST
By EkOngKar Singh Khalsa
As the first Executive Director of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band as its members renew their stewardship of Tribal lands. The Amah Mutsun Land Trust was founded to fulfill a sacred covenant and to restore balance to the relationship between humans and nature. The Trust intends to help us move forward to a time when, in the words of M. Kat Anderson, “conservation and stewardship are everyday practices.”
The lands that the Amah Mutsun have tended for thousands of years are now owned by others and yet, the Tribe and Land Trust are finding ways to move ahead. They have worked steadily to establish strong working relationships with contemporary land managers and have developed effective partnerships with the National Park Service, California Department of Parks and Recreation, Bureau of Land Management, Sempervirens Fund and many other public and private landowners. With support from the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, the Native Stewardship Corps has already begun significant restoration projects, utilizing traditional methods to care for coastal meadows, inland watersheds, and mountain forests.
It is my hope to significantly expand the good work of the Native Stewards and to help demonstrate the Tribe’s traditional methods at many more locations throughout the region.
For me, the Amah Mutsun and the story of their long and successful relationship to the land provide reassurance that human intervention in the natural environment can produce benefit not only for the human community but for plants, animals and the land as well. The Amah Mutsun demonstrate in this effort qualities I very much admire. They are grateful the Creator has given them (and all of us) such a remarkable landscape to enjoy. They feel fortunate their ancestors provided effective tools for them to use. More importantly, at the end of 200 years of cruel and painful treatment at the hands of uninvited guests, the Tribe now wants only to faithfully pursue its careful work on behalf of all living things. This remarkable, openhearted response to a very difficult history is inspiring to me.
For more than forty years, I have worked to build the capacity of many small organizations and helped them expand both their scope of work and impact. Through that time, whether working to establish an intentional spiritual community or bringing a forlorn, forgotten urban river back to life, I have observed that small groups of dedicated optimists can change the world for the better. The Amah Mutsun Land Trust is indeed one of these dedicated groups.
The Land Trust, with its partners, has set forth compelling and far-reaching goals that will change our perspective and perhaps the way we live. Achieving these goals will help Amah Mutsun Tribal members and their partners create a healthier relationship to the natural world of which we are an essential and integral part.
I look forward to working with everyone involved, to fulfill the request of the Tribe’s elders, that the loving stewardship their ancestors undertook is begun in earnest once again.