Native peoples have recently pursued several land reclamation efforts. Some tribes have attempted to purchase ancestral land purchased by the tribes themselves from land returned to tribes that was purchased by conservation groups. Land-back initiatives support the sovereignty and self-determination of native peoples.
The reclamation efforts impact the injustice of federal and state government policies that have deprived Indigenous people of their land and their culture. There is also the issue of climate change and environmental concerns as they relate to the sustainability of natural resources.
The “Land Back” movement began in the 1970s, though there has been a lack of media coverage over the years. The federal government response was the promise of jobs, all the while forcing the tribes to relocate due to the forced termination of their land rights.
The Snoqualmie Tribe Are Happy to Have Their Land Returned
The Snoqualmie Tribe’s Executive Director of Governmental Affairs, Jaime Martin, describes the movement as a “whole spectrum of policies, actions, and initiatives all working to restore and reclaim Native ancestral lands.” In 2021, the Snoqualmie Tribe purchased 12,000 acres of ancestral land in the foothills of the Cascades; however, the federal government promised the tribe land, which it is still waiting on. This recent purchase allows the Snoqualmie people to reconnect with their ancestral land.
For the Snoqualmie Tribe, according to Hanford McCloud, the government liaison for the Nisqually people, we “need that land, that water, and that connection to [our] culture.” “For me, a land acknowledgement is a land back: you give us land, and we acknowledge that fact that you are on our land,” McCloud explains. You stole the land; you manipulated the land. And now we’re here to help fix that.” Historically, the land was taken from Native Americans using the doctrines of discovery and manifest destiny as justifications.
Later, Native populations were destroyed by disease, murder, and tribal removal policies, i.e., the Removal Act, that forced tribal members off of their native land and onto reservations. The history of land theft and removal is outlined extensively in the book “Systematic Land Theft,” which is available for purchase on this site. While some tribes signed agreements or treaties with the United States to protect their hunting and fishing rights, all treaty agreements were broken by the federal government.
Another example of land reclamation is the recent transfer of 9,200 acres of land returned to the Colville Confederated Tribe through a partnership with “Conservation Northwest,” a Seattle-based entity that received the land from a rancher under the condition that it be protected from development. The land helps to reestablish the connection between the reservation and the Cascades.
The elders have also gathered the first food on the land, a symbol of reclamation, a symbol of “land back.” To learn more about the history of land ownership, distribution, theft of Indigenous property please subscribe to my newsletter, become a paid subscriber, or purchase my books.
If you are interested in learning how to protect your property legally visit https://www.hishawlaw.com/blog
Jillian Hishaw, Esq., is a MacArthur Awardee, Agricultural Lawyer, Founder, and Director of F.A.R.M.S., an international non-profit and Hishaw Law L.L.C., a virtual law practice. Inspired by her own family’s land loss, F.A.R.M.S., provides technical and legal assistance to small farmers, while reducing hunger in the farmer’s community.
Hishaw’s first book, “Don’t Bet the Farm on Medicaid,” examines how U.S. long-term care facilities can exercise their federal authority to place a lien on a resident’s property, if an outstanding debt, is owed.
Hishaw, has over 20 years of professional experience in the areas of civil rights, land protection, and agricultural policy. Her prior experience includes working at local, state and federal agencies on conservation and civil rights matters.
In 2017, Hishaw was recognized as a Food Changemaker, by the Clif Bar Foundation and featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Atlantic, Vice News, Growers Co., (CAN), and among others. In 2019, the Food Tank organization voted Hishaw, 1 of 15 women in the World Impacting the Food Industry.
Hishaw, has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tuskegee University, plus a Juris Doctorate and Legal Master’s in agricultural law, from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville law school.
Hishaw is the author of “Don’t Bet the Farm on Medicaid,” “US Farm Tax Credits for all 50 States,” “The History of 50 U.S. State Flags & their Historic Symbolism,” and “Systematic Land Theft” winner of the 2022 Independent Press Award, the 2022 National Indie Excellence Book Award, 2022 NYC Big Book Award and Finalist for the 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.