Friday, January 6, 2023

'A Great Day:' President Signs Karuk Land Back Bill into Law

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2023 at 4:10 PM

click to enlarge For Karuk people, this  mountain known as  á'uuyich, is the center of their world, and it is located next to Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam on lands the legislation will return to the tribe. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KARUK TRIBE
  • Photo courtesy of the Karuk Tribe
  • For Karuk people, this mountain known as á'uuyich, is the center of their world, and it is located next to Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam on lands the legislation will return to the tribe.
President Joe Biden today signed a bill into law placing federal lands in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties into a trust for the Karuk Tribe, fulfilling a years-long effort to put the sacred lands back into tribal hands.

Under The Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act, 1,200 acres of U.S. Forest Service land will be transferred to the tribe, including a mountain known as á›uuyich to the Karuk people, for whom it is the center of the world, which sits at the confluence of the Klamath and Salmon rivers as well as the nearby historic village of Katimiîn, where the tribe's annual world renewal ceremony to restore balance to the universe takes place, and Ameekyáaraam, site of the Jump Dance and First Salmon Ceremony.

“It’s a great day for the Karuk Tribe," said Karuk Tribal Chair Russell "Buster" Attebery in a press release. "We have taken a huge step forward in protecting our culture and religion for generations to come. We truly appreciate the support from Sen. Padilla and Sen. Feinstein and their incredible staff. Special thanks to Congressman Huffman, who made a personal commitment to return these lands after visiting Katimiîn back in 2016.”

See the full press release from the Karuk Tribe copied below:


PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNS KARUK LAND RETURN BILL INTO LAW

Center of the World Returned to Karuk Tribe

Washington, DC. - The Karuk Tribe’s Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act (KASL Act) was signed into law yesterday by President Biden. The KASL was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Alex Padilla and Sen. Dianne Feinstein and in the House by Congressman Jared Huffman.

“It’s a great day for the Karuk Tribe. We have taken a huge step forward in protecting our culture and religion for generations to come. We truly appreciate the support from Senator Padilla and Senator Feinstein and their incredible staff. Special thanks to Congressman Huffman who made a personal commitment to return these lands after visiting Katimiîn back in 2016.” said Karuk Chairman Russell ‘Buster’ Attebery.

The KASL Act directs the transfer of approximately 1,000 acres from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Interior to be held in trust for the Karuk Tribe. The KASL Act re-establishes the Karuk Tribe as the steward of these sacred landscapes. The lands in the KASL Act straddle Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties in California, near the Oregon border, and include a variety of sacred spaces where world renewal ceremonies such as the White Deerskin Dance and Jump Dance have taken place since the beginning of time.

While the Karuk Tribe’s aboriginal territory encompasses over 1 million acres in the middle Klamath River basin, over 95% of these lands are occupied by the United States Forest Service. This has led to conflicts over the years as tribal members’ rights to hunt, gather, engage in cultural burning, and practice their religion have been infringed upon by state and federal agencies.

“We never again have to fight federal and state agencies for the right to hold our sacred ceremonies without disturbance at Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam,” said Karuk Executive Director Josh Saxon. “Returning our center of the world protects our inherent responsibility to pass Karuk culture and customs down to the next generation.”

The Karuk Tribe would like to extend their gratitude to the multitude of organizations who expressed their support for the legislation and who partnered with us in this endeavor.

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Thadeus Greenson

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