Historic Partnership Agreement Signed to Protect Sacred Indigenous Lands and Natural Resources in California’s Central Coast
Signing Formalizes Framework for Future Conservation Successes by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust and Trust for Public Land
California State Capitol, Sacramento, CA – In a momentous occasion, Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band (AMTB), and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT) have come together to celebrate the signing of a groundbreaking Partnership Agreement.
A historic agreement that signifies a strong, reciprocal partnership between AMTB, AMLT and TPL that exemplifies the shared commitment to safeguarding sacred ancestral lands, preserving natural resources, and reviving traditional Indigenous land stewardship in Mutsun and Awaswas territories.
Val Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and Founder of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, emphasized the importance of the partnership: “For too long, Indigenous voices and traditional land stewardship have been marginalized. This partnership signifies a resurgence of our cultural heritage and a powerful alliance to protect our ancestral lands. Together, we will restore the balance between humans and the environment, ensuring that the wisdom of our ancestors is passed down to those who follow.”
Guillermo Rodriguez, Vice President and California State Director at the Trust for Public Land, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership: “This Partnership Agreement represents a significant step forward in our collective efforts to conserve and protect California’s rich and diverse history and heritage. What makes this partnership unique is the expertise all three organizations bring to conservation and climate resiliency steeped in cultural heritage and stewardship for the land. We are honored to work alongside the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust to ensure the preservation of sacred lands for future generations.”
For the Amah Mutsun people, this partnership is a historic opportunity to revitalize and empower Indigenous communities, enabling them to protect and conserve their cultural and sacred sites, which have been separated from them since the 18th century. The formal signing of the Partnership Agreement comes on the heels of the permanent protection and conservation of the historic ranch in San Juan Bautista California, known as Harvey and Gladys Nyland Property. This conservation success has helped establish a framework through a cultural easement for the Amah Mutsun people to return to their lands and allowed for a cultural burn that was conducted for the first time in over 250 years.
For Trust for Public Land, the partnership represents a transformative opportunity to integrate Indigenous perspectives and values into their work, incorporating cultural and ecological knowledge into land protection and restoration efforts, thus aligning with TPL’s mission of protecting land for people.
Ken Lucero, Trust for Public Land Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director: “This partnership exemplifies TPL’s dedication to co-create a sustainable and inclusive future for all. TPL is honored to work alongside the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, fostering a legacy of environmental stewardship and cultural preservation across California.”
Key highlights of the Partnership Agreement include:
- The safeguarding of sacred and ancestral lands.
- The protection of vital natural resources.
- The restoration of traditional Indigenous land stewardship practices.
- Collaboration on transformative projects in Mutsun and Awaswas territories.
The Partnership Agreement signifies a shared vision of conservation, sustainability, and cultural preservation. It reflects a commitment to the principles of equity and collaboration, recognizing the critical role Indigenous communities play in the protection of our planet.
The signing ceremony was held in front of the California State Capitol Building and was attended by leaders and representatives from all three organizations. The partnership aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, cultural values, and resources, with a shared goal of advancing California’s climate resilience initiatives, particularly the Pathways to 30×30 program.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 4 million acres of public land, created more than 5,364 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected nearly 9.4 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.
About the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band (AMTB) are the descendants of the Indigenous peoples that have thrived for since millennia in the landscapes of coastal Central California. AMTB is actively working in their traditional territory to reclaim linguistic, spiritual, and cultural values, and reconnect people to the land. The traditional territory of the Amah Mutsun encompasses all or portions of the modern Counties of San Benito, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara. Historically comprised of more than 20 politically distinct peoples, the modern tribe represents the surviving descendant families of these historic groups.
About the Amah Mutsun Land Trust
The Amah Mutsun Land Trust (AMLT), an initiative of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to establish a 501(c)(3) Native American land trust, is the way in which the Amah Mutsun access, protect, and steward lands that are integral to their identity and culture in central coastal California. The goals of the AMLT are to preserve and protect culturally important sites, conduct research on Indigenous traditional knowledge, educate tribal members and the general public, and restore Indigenous stewardship to Mutsun and Awaswas-speaking lands. By restoring sacredness to ancestral lands and waters, AMLT serves as a vehicle for healing people and the places they inhabit.