On the surface, Sequoia Point seems like another lovely spot in a Bay Area park, with gnarled oaks, towering old-growth redwoods and a glorious view of the Bay. But this scenic overlook in Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park has now acquired new significance, and a new Chochenyo name—Rinihmu Pulte’irekne, meaning “Above the Red Ochre”—because the city government has voluntarily returned it to Indigenous hands.
Like many Indigenous groups in the Bay Area and along the California coast, the Confederated Villages of Lisjan is not a federally recognized tribe, which makes it incredibly difficult to reclaim land. Oakland has become the first city in the Bay Area to return public land to a tribal entity without that recognition. The city created a cultural conservation easement that gives the Indigenous-led Sogorea Te’ Land Trust stewardship over the land in perpetuity.
It’s a blueprint that other cities could follow to return public land to Indigenous communities, according to Corrina Gould, Lisjan tribal chair and co-founder of the land trust, a nonprofit conservation organization. The trust represents Ohlone and urban Indigenous people from various tribes living in the East Bay.
“This little piece of five acres is going to do a lot to change the landscape of Oakland,” Gould says.
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