Landback: Restoring People, Place and Purpose

#LandBack has become a rallying cry in Indigenous circles and beyond from coast to coast, but what does #Landback really mean, and how can we be a part of this movement? In this conversation, leaders in the #Landback movement share different approaches to the return and “rematriation” of ancestral territories. For tribal members, the discussion includes organizational, fundraising, and legal strategies. For non-Natives, speakers will share how to be a good ally for #Landback.

Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), Program Director of Indigeneity at Bioneers, possesses a background rich in Indigenous cultural studies, fine art and documentary photography and videography, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) workshops, protection of indigenous intellectual property, conservation of indigenous cultural resources, fundraising, grant-writing, marketing, and the formalization of the Bioneers Indigeneity Program.

Corrina Gould (Lisjan Ohlone), born and raised in the village of Huchiun (aka Oakland, CA), is the chair and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan and co-founder and Lead Organizer for Indian People Organizing for Change, a small Native-run organization that sponsored annual Shellmound Peace Walks from 2005 to 2009.

PennElys Droz, Ph.D., of Anishinaabe and European descent, a mother of five, is a Program Officer with NDN Collective (“an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building and narrative change”), and a founding board member of Sustainable Nations, an Indigenous regenerative community development organization.

Kawenniiosta Jock (Kanien’kehá:ka, Wolf Clan from Akwesasne, Mohawk Nation Territory), President of the Waterfall Unity Alliance, board member of Onkwe Inc., and an alumna of the Akwesasne Freedom School, is an activist, land protector, master seamstress, traditional full-spectrum doula, mushroom hunter and artist. She works on preserving and restoring her people’s language, cultural teachings and ancient knowledge.

Note: This is an edited and excerpted version of the transcript of this conversation.

CARA ROMERO: Welcome to the 15th annual Indigenous Forum and to the amazing beautiful homelands of the Chochenyo-speaking peoples. We’re so thankful to be here, coming with a good heart to Berkeley, California, known as Huchiun . 

We’re here to begin a conversation about a buzzword that we’ve been hearing for many years now—landback. This is a movement that has caught on like wildfire throughout not only the United States, but among our brothers and sisters to our north and south as well. We have with us today three leading figures in landback movements, and I hope you all get inspired by their wisdom and experience, so that perhaps some of you can begin similar work in your own communities and/or learn how to be good allies to help us Indigenous Peoples reclaim and steward land that was stolen from us.

CORRINA GOULD: Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this beautiful panel here today, and spending time with us to dream in all of this amazing work. This work started thousands of years ago, but a couple hundred years ago when the Spanish first got here, they stole our sacred sites, our ability as women to be leaders and our ability to speak our own languages and to pray in our way, but we have never stopped trying to get it all back since first contact.

For us here, our struggle centered around trying to figure out how to get the remains of over 9,000 of our ancestors back from UC Berkeley and hundreds and hundreds of other ancestral remains that are in universities and museums and other places across the Bay Area. And as a non-federally recognized tribe erased from our place of origin, that was a very challenging undertaking.

Fourth grade history in the curriculum here taught about us as though we only existed in the past: that we ate acorns and had tule houses and tule boats, etc., and then the Spanish got here and everything changed. But they don’t tell the real story: that what they brought was not just their way of farming and their language, they brought rape and murder and oppression. Those same myths about us were taught when my kids went to fourth grade here in the Bay Area, but we are currently working with a lot of amazing educators to change the curriculum. Over 25 years ago, we started to do work in the Bay Area to bring recognition to the generic term “Ohlone,” and to drive home that we were still here. We started walking to shellmounds in the region starting in 2005. We walked from Vallejo down to San Jose and up to San Francisco with hundreds of people from all walks of life, stopping at these different burial sites of our ancestors that were under railroad tracks and parking lots and schools and bars and streets, and we laid down prayers for our ancestors, asking them to remember us as we were remembering them.

For decades, we worked together with many other Native people from across the country who had been pushed out of their reservations into big cities and now lived in our territory. And we did this work all on our own, without even a nonprofit, totally out of our own pockets. Then in 2011, the City of Vallejo east of here filed for bankruptcy, and there were two shell mounds along the Carquinez Strait, the last 13 acres of open space there, that they planned to develop. It’s a place that connects our bay to our rivers where our salmon come up and our salmon go back into the ocean. It had been one of my ancestors’ last strongholds before they got pulled into Mission Dolores in San Francisco. And after 12-and-a-half years of working, an organization called Spirit that was run by Wounded Knee DeOcampo and his niece, Kim (who is on the board of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust) came together to try to save this particular sacred site, and that began the process that got us to where we are today.

For 109 days we held that site. People from all walks of life came and put down prayers at the sacred fire we had lit, hoping to save it from destruction. We made a callout, and because we had been doing these walks and people now understood what shellmounds were and that our people were still alive, they came and they stayed with us, and we created a village there. We were surrounded by Coast Guard and police. It was an interesting time.

But that action and that land changed us. It changed our DNA. It made us somebody different. We remembered what it was like to be human beings and to live in community again, and to acknowledge each other and to share food and prayer with one another on a daily basis, to put down prayers every morning together and at night, and to hold strong together. In a way, that place saved us.

And on Day 99, two federally recognized tribes stepped in. It was not their territory, but they stepped in and created the first cultural easement between two federally recognized tribes, creating a park district of land freed from development forever. That happened because we stood strong. If we had not stood our ground, that land would be destroyed today, so that place, Sogorea Te’, that village site, still holds that sacredness to us, and we continue to go and have ceremony for our salmon there, joined by many other people, including my good friend from the Winnemem Wintu, their spiritual leader and Chief, Caleen Sisk.

But I didn’t know what a land trust was when we first started. About six months after we left Sogorea Te, many of us had a form of PTSD, because we had to come from being in that village in joyous community to our “regular” lives where neighbors didn’t talk to each other and we had to go to work from 9 to 5. But my good friend, Dr. Beth Rose Middleton, who’s now a professor at UC Davis, wrote a book, her dissertation at Berkeley, called Trust in the Land, and it was about Native land trusts, and she invited me to a meeting of Native land trusts about six months after. And I had no idea what I was going to go to do.

But when I went to Southern California, I met people from both federally and non-federally recognized tribes that were buying back their own land. They were buying back sacred sites through long-term leasing, so they could tell their stories again, and I thought that that was a good idea, a tool that we hadn’t had in our pocket for many years.

When I came back, I talked to my friend, Johnella LaRose (of the Shoshone Bannock and Carrizo tribes) who had been doing these walks, this work with me for all these decades, about this. We talked about the interesting thing that most of these land trusts, actually all of the land trusts that I went and saw, were all run by Native guys. And I met this guy, Dune Lankard, from Alaska, whom many of you probably know, and I asked my new friend if this was a men’s club, if it was a boys’ club, and Dune laughed and said: “Yeah, kinda, but not just Native land trusts, nearly all land trusts are run by men.”

Johnella and I started having this conversation. What does it mean that men are in charge of land and how does it relate to what happened to us when colonizers got here, the extraction and the rape and the taking away of the sacred happened that continues to happen to our Mother Earth? Maybe we need to bring a balance back, so we began to use the word “rematriation” because it’s about bringing that balance back. It does not mean that we throw away our sons and uncles and grandpas, but it means that during colonization, our men also lost their sacred responsibilities. It’s time for all of it to come back into place, and it’s our special responsibility as Indigenous women to bring that balance back. We have the songs for our medicines and for our waterways. We have those songs for those new babies and those that are leaving this Earth, and it is our time, right now, to take up that space again and bring us back on that right track.

The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust blew up in this crazy way that I never imagined because of a lot of beautiful human beings who live in the Bay Area and in the region who saw this as a way for us all to explore how to work together. We’re a non-federally recognized tribe. We have no treaties with the federal government. The federal government says that I don’t exist, that I am not an Indigenous woman sitting here in my own territory.

In 2016, after Standing Rock, as we were still putting together Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, I met a group of young people running an organic nursery in deep East Oakland called Planting Justice, half a mile from my house. They work with formerly incarcerated men and women and people that recently migrated to the area. They went to Standing Rock and they were moved by what happened there, and they said we want to give you back this land, this quarter acre of land that we’re not using on this two-acre plot. Johnella and I had no idea who these young people were, and the land was a mess with transmission lines and broken concrete all over, but we decided to try to clean up that land together and to see if the relationships would work out, so for a year we cleaned up that space.

My ancestors always tell me things in different, funny ways. That piece of land is right along the Lisjan Creek, who we are named after – our waterway. It’s under the elevated 880 freeway, under fill, and about a half a block away, one of our shellmounds were destroyed in order for them to put that freeway up, so that land sits in a place where my ancestors had a village site for thousands of years, and that they were bringing it back to us in this totally different way.

It still chokes me up, this first quarter acre of land that came back to us. Just about all of our sacred sites around here are underneath asphalt or rubble, so we decided that we needed a fire, a place to bring people back to a hearth. We decided to create the first arbor in our territory in 250 years, and that arbor was supposed to get danced in and right as we were getting ready for it, hundreds of white sage and tobacco plants had been readied for giveaway, but COVID happened, so we couldn’t dance it in in that particular way, but some young people being released from prison asked for permission to come and pray at that fire before they went home to their reservations. That fire has gotten a lot of use: we’ve had celebrations for people passing on; my daughter was married in that arbor during COVID; it has become a hearth again for the Lisjan people.

We have had to be creative, to use different strategies and build relationships in different kinds of ways to get access back to land. Often, it’s drawing up a MOU with a nonprofit organization. It generally doesn’t involve purchasing land directly, but we did have somebody gracious enough to give us money to purchase the Ashby Garden here in Berkeley recently. We have another MOU with an acre of land in El Sobrante, along Garrity Creek that we’re taking care of and growing foods that we distribute to our elders and to those that were immunosuppressed. We started doing that work during COVID. We have a small piece of land that has 13 fruit trees on it in West Oakland that we are using to harvest as well, and working with young people to do that work with another organization, the American Indian Child Resource Center. And we recently were the first non-federally recognized tribe in California to receive almost five acres of land back from a city, the City of Oakland.

So landback comes in a lot of different ways when you’re doing this in your own territories and you’re not federally recognized, and you’re using a nonprofit in order to do it. But I always say that if you open up your imagination, and people come up with a good idea, say yes, and figure out how we do that kind of work together.

PENNELYS DROZ: I’m Annishinaabe Wyandot and aEuropean descendant. I was raised to serve the continuation of Annishinaabe culture, so when you see my bio out there, a lot of the times it just says Annishinaabe because that’s the culture I’ve been brought up to serve, but I think it’s important to acknowledge all of our ancestors, because it does impact how we move in this world. I was also raised in Shirai Yurok territory. I actually thought I was Yurok until I was about 10.

Going back home when I was 18 to the Great Lakes transformed my life. I thought my family had lost our culture and language and everything, but when I realized that we hadn’t. It changed my life and created the direction that I have today. I was also raised in community with the Wiyot Tribe up there, who have been relentlessly praying, building relations, educating community and struggling and organizing to be able to get their sacred site back, their island, which is finally theirs again, so that was very influential.

The origin story into the work was when I was a young teen. I tried to join the environmental movement at the time, trying to be in EarthFirst! and other direct action environmental movements in the early ‘90s, but I did not find a welcome home there. I did not find a space of cultural safety in what existed back then, but I found my way to the Indigenous Environmental Network, which was very shaping. The other shaping things were that as a young teen, I also started learning about science. I was taking a physics class and reading science books, and I was really struck by how science seemed to be saying the same thing as our creation story, as our cosmology, as our way of even thinking about the world. The scientists never talk about the spirit, but I got the sense that what they uncovered is the same kind of magic, so I got very into science.

And then a huge fish kill happened up there. All this came together to make me realize that our creation stories, our cosmologies, our way of being in the world, our way of developing our intellects and our creativity in relationship to the land and each other have to be and can be the foundation of developing sustainable nations. Even though we have such deep intense struggles, we have so much powerful potential to be the leaders and the models of what is possible in this world because of our connectivity, the fact that we’re invested in each other and in our homelands. I grew up in a community where there’s a lot of addiction, a lot of violence, but, you know, people there take care of each other’s kids. Nobody’s kids are going to go hungry. That kind of community connectivity is what it will take to rebirth the new world, the world that we want to give to our descendants.

Long story short, we ended up starting an organization called Sustainable Nations. That organization served to provide training, project development, and consulting by and for Indigenous People in renewable energy, natural building, ecological wastewater treatment, economic planning, etc., and all from the basis of the spiritual responsibility we have to our homelands and each other. I did that work and learned a ton for a lot of years, and I studied engineering and applied the practice of engineering from within our cultural lenses to do appropriate design work and development work in communities.

But after many years I needed a change. I was a director for a long time of that work, and it was beautiful, but I’m a mother of many, and sometimes it’s time to shift. I had the blessing of being invited to join the NDN Collective when it  was just starting. I was the fifth hire, and now we have over 70 folks on our team.

And now we’re firmly engaged in the landback movement. We’re articulating and networking around this powerful framework. Nothing is bolder than unapologetically saying land back. To create the big kinds of transformational change that this Earth is demanding and that our communities need to be able to provide a future for our descendants, we need to be able to speak bold things into this space. We have not lost our spiritual responsibility to this land.

NDN’s home base is in the Black Hills, in Lakota Country. The Lakota Nations have never accepted the money that they were offered for the Black Hills. The federal government acknowledged that the Black Hills were stolen from the Lakota illegally and have been offering the Lakotas a significant payment in exchange for that land, but they have never accepted, so we’re very involved in building a landback movement there.

Another way that we’re supporting this work is through a grant foundation. If you’re doing this work right now, we have a Community Self-Determination Grant open right now, but only for a month, so tell your people about this $100,000 a year, two-year grant opportunity. We also have a community action fund that is smaller in dollar value but that supports climate change protection and adaptation and land/water defense. We also have a regenerative business investment fund and a political arm that works in Washington and on other organizing.

So, we at NDN work to serve this movement in a lot of different ways. My new role there is exciting because I’m getting to use the experience from all those years of doing regenerative development work to now support people to learn about what land trusts are and how to use that tool. It’s all about supporting people with resources, building networks across our nations and sharing knowledge so they can step fully into this landback movement.

There are a lot of complicated issues involved in this work, sometimes even within reservations because the 1860 Allotment Act checkerboarded formerly communally-held land, allotting plots to each individual male household head, so new models have to be created to heal that. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation is helping people out on that front, and the San Xavier Community Farm down in Tohono O’odham territory did a lot of work to start a cooperative farm.

But there’s so much possibility, creativity and power in this movement. It’s really revolutionary for every single one of us, Indigenous or settler, wherever you come from.

KAWENNIIOSTA JOCK: Last fall, we were able to raise $874,000 to buy back ancestral lands in the Adirondacks. That’s where my Mohawk people came from, but they were forced out of their lands and put onto reservations four hours away, and our community got split up into seven communities throughout so-called Canada in both Ontario and Quebec, and also in NY State. Our reservations today mostly consist of cement sidewalks and houses really close together with only small spaces to grow food. Akwesasne is also home to one of the largest PCB dumps in North America. Our lands and waters are contaminated with PCBs, from a time decades ago when big Alcoa and General Motors plants just dumped all of their sludge into our waterways.

Today quite a few of our people are sick because of that history. There is a lot of cancer, and a number of babies are born with birth defects, all of those things, but I I was really fortunate to have met some really beautiful people who had started an organization with my father called the Waterfall Unity Alliance, and through that organization we were able to buy back a piece of our ancestral land that had been a Turtle Clan village, but that our people hadn’t occupied for 120 years, and I hope to move there with my kids.

It’s about four-and-a-half hours away from Akwesasne where I grew up. I was really fortunate that my parents raised me in my traditional ways. I am an alumnus of the Akwesasne Freedom School, and I have four of my children there now, and that’s keeping me in Akwesasne, because I don’t want to take my kids from ceremony, from our language, so we are creating our own school and a healing center and longhouse on the land we got back, and when that is ready, we will be able to fully move to that place, back in the mountains, back in our original homeland.

Landback isn’t just about getting our land back; it’s also about getting yourself back, so I’ve been on this journey of reconnecting with myself and with my ancestors. My grandmothers came from this land, and so I’ve been really guided by them. The land we reclaimed includes a 60-acre berry farm that’s been in operation for the last 50 years, but it’s not organic and the soil has been damaged. The land is barely hanging on, but me and my daughters have been rematriating that land, singing and doing ceremony on it and making offerings, burning tobacco. It’s all really hard work, but I know that I’m supposed to bring my people back home.

CARA: Could all of you share a few more of the beautiful experiences that you’ve had reinvigorating connections with ancestral lands. What happens when you get land back, and why is it important?

KAWENNIIOSTA: That contact with the land releases energy, and things start coming to you, including ancestors’ knowledge and teachings. It helps you remember where we come from.

CORRINA: I think that it’s important for our young people to say yes. That’s something I didn’t learn when I was a young person. And as a woman, I was fearful of saying yes, but learning to say yes has opened doors. And when we say yes to what our ancestors have asked us to do in this world, people come and cross our life paths and bring us unexpected miracles.

Those young people from Planting Justice who we didn’t know, offered us a quarter-acre of land. In 250 years, it was the first piece of land that we had gotten back. We have been homeless in our own homeland. I grew up in my own traditional territory, but none of us owned a home. We were the first ones “gentrified” out of our home territories, and that continues. Schools still teach that we are part of the past, so this is an ongoing genocide, a continuing attempt at an erasure of a people. But some of us were willing to say yes, and now hundreds of people are doing this work with me; and people who believe that these sacred sites are worth fighting for invite us to come and share our stories.

I was raised in my traditional territory, and I raised my children in our traditional territory, but it wasn’t until we got that piece of land back that I saw something different in my grandchildren’s eyes. They have a rootedness that is something that’s beyond magic. They understand that this is their place. They ask for their birthday parties to be at the arbor; they understand which flowers are growing there, and they’re picking up the language and creating their own songs.  

We put ourselves out there as vessels for our ancestors, and now I watch my grandchildren thrive in their homelands. They know that they belong in a whole different way than the last five or six generations.

CARA: I’m from Southern California, from the Mojave Desert. Beth Rose Middleton, as was mentioned earlier, has done a lot of good work with the Native American Land Conservancy down there in the desert. Visiting sacred sites in our homeland is often a sad experience. There can be graffiti and broken beer bottles all over. It can feel as though the genocide worked: the people and places have been erased and the language is gone.

But they’re not gone. They’re just dormant. When we receive these lands back through whatever mechanisms people are moving through to be able to get these pockets of ancestral territories back, they, and we, come back to life. Those places need to hear the language. They need to hear the songs. If they do, they come alive, and not only in the landscape, but in the hearts of our children. And, actually, it’s one of those things that doesn’t just benefit Native peoples. Everybody that’s reckoning with their settler colonialism and feels the devastation themselves of what the results have been of taking Indigenous peoples’ caretaking ways from the land, a lot of those people also want to see these spaces re-indigenized.

So, I not only honor the people that are fighting to get land back and make sure these sites hear and feel their Native blood memory coming back to them, but it’s also really important for our settler colonial people that are reckoning with the privileges they’ve inherited to help in these efforts in different ways, though that doesn’t come without challenges. We’re still having to move through colonial constructs. I’m from a federally recognized tribe. Some of my sisters here on this panel are from non-federally recognized tribes, but even with federally recognized tribes, we do not own the land. Reservation lands do not belong to the tribes. They’re held in trusts by the federal government.

I had this epiphany about 20 years ago. I was meeting all these Indigenous People that I admired who were doing this to perpetuate culture, to bring orchards back, to bring language back, to bring all of the good things back, but none of them were tribal officials. They were all directors of nonprofits, grant-makers, so could you talk a little bit about the actual mechanisms you used to get land back. Was it through a nonprofit? And what were some of the key milestones, whether it be a gift from a non-native ally, or the organization of a nonprofit? Can each of you talk a little bit about a success story or a challenging story of how you were able to get land back?

KAWENNIIOSTA: We had a lot of support from different organizations. We had bridge loans. We had donations. We did fundraisers, unity concerts, and everything went through a non-profit organization. In the future, once everything starts going, we would like to put it back to the people and out of the organization so that it’s back to just being organic, just our homelands again, but we’ve been really grateful for everybody that supported us so far.

CORRINA: This whole thing of nonprofits is weird. When we were doing our original work as Indian People Organizing for Change (IPOC) and doing sacred sites protection work, it was not under a nonprofit. It was out of people’s pockets and good hearts, and people wanting to feed us and all of that kind of stuff, but when we started talking about a land trust, we had to figure out how to fit into this system that doesn’t recognize us as Indigenous People.

If you run a nonprofit, you’re on this treadmill, running and running and running. I was sitting during COVID at my kitchen table, unable to go to the bathroom for a number of hours because I had back-to-back Zoom meetings, and I was looking out at my backyard thinking “I did not start a land trust so that I could never get to the land, even to my backyard.”

And there are all these contradictions, things that are required by laws and regulations about nonprofits that don’t make sense when you’re dealing with Indigenous people. I want this work to pass down through the generations, so I’d like my children to work for the land trust, but according to conventional practices, that’s nepotism. But for whom am I building this if it’s not to bring the next generations with us? So, there’s a lot of weird stuff we have to dance around to figure out how to do this work effectively and to make the nonprofit model fit our needs as much as possible.

But, when land is involved, there are miracles every day. This last Tuesday we had a land day. We implemented a day a month during which everybody involved in the project, no matter what their job is, comes to the land to work that day. So, last Tuesday we went to one of the pieces of land, and we cleared four rows that we’re going to grow food in. We mulched it all back and turned the dirt over. It took us about an hour and a half, and then we were sitting there joking and eating food and sharing with each other, becoming in community, and that land begins to hear that laughter again. That’s where human beings are supposed to be.

The land feeds us emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. Modern psychology is now saying the same things, but human beings have known that forever. During COVID, we got hundreds of people’s emails and phone calls wanting to come to the land because intrinsically, human beings know how healing being on the land is. Every time we’re able to bring people to the land, whenever we’re able to light a fire at the arbor, whenever we’re able to identify one of our traditional plants and actually baby it to go back to where it’s supposed to originally be, then we know that magic is happening. Any day on the land is a good day.

PENNELYS: I want to reflect what my sisters are saying. These tools, these nonprofits, these land trusts, whatever we’re operating with right now, these are temporary tools. Colonialism severs people’s relationship to land, so that a few can amass wealth and power. Landback is about healing by restoring those spiritual, emotional, mental and economic relationships. We’re trying to flip the tides of colonialism. Everywhere you can help people reconnect with land, you’re doing something incredibly powerful, especially if you are an Indigenous person connecting with your homeland. Those relationships are magic.

So, the tools we’re using now to reset those relationships are useful, but they are just temporary. When we have reinstituted our traditional agreements; when we have healed the hearts of our people so that we can live with our land-based governance practices again in community, accountability and health, then we can get rid of these tools.

CARA: When land is taken away from the first caretakers, the whole world is in trouble, and everyone can see the path of destruction our society has been on, but landback is a reaction to that loss of connection, that devastation, and that movement is happening and growing all over the place. But it comes with a lot of challenges because we’re having to find tools, mechanisms to be able to do it. Those of us who aren’t from federally recognized tribes have to do it through nonprofits. Sometimes the efforts can create factionalism in our communities. Sometimes people are confused about whom to give the land back to and whose territory is legitimate and whose isn’t.

But the big picture is that Landback can lead to healing that can take place across all cultures. Interculturally, this is the right thing to do. We are the original caretakers of the lands. We have not just knowledge that was passed down to us but inherent blood memory tied to the landscapes that we’re from. And, actually, you can re-indigenize any place. If you’re a Native person and you’re not in your homelands, you can still re-indigenize a place. Non-native people too. They can really attempt to decolonize their minds and decolonize their ways of being.

I’m going to close out this panel by asking each of my sisters how Native people and non-native people support your individual work.

KAWENNIIOSTA: You can support our project by going to We have a GoFundMe page (, and you can read all about the story of how we began and how you can help us. We also have a crapload of berries that need to be picked, and you can come to the farm and help and visit and take a dip in the waterfall.

PENNELYS: I encourage all of us to reconnect—reconnect yourself to the diversity of your ancestors and to the land, because that is a revolutionary act and offers wisdom and power that will help guide everybody towards knowing how to build a world together. And if you are non-indigenous, find out whose land you’re on and figure out how to serve that to whatever your capacity is.

As far as NDN Collective goes, let folks know that we have resources. Let your local landback efforts know that NDN Collective has resources and can maybe provide support. And if you want to enter a learning network with other people that are working on getting landback, if you’re a Native person that’s working on that, get in touch. And if you want to support NDN Collective’s work buying back chunks of territory in the Black Hills and supporting the landback work in the heart of NDN Collective territory, check us out at

CORRINA: We started an honorary tax, Shuumi. We ask people that are non-native that live, play or work in our territory, which is Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Solano, and parts of Napa, to pay into this Shuumi system. You can find out about it at There’s a whole platform. You can plug in your numbers, and it’ll give you a suggested donation. And we actually live off of the donations that you all give us. If you live outside of the Bay Area, there’s a “Rematriate the Land” Fund that helps us purchase land and pay all the fees and taxes on that land that you can contribute to.

We are also still in a fight to protect the oldest shellmound in the Bay Area, and if you want to contribute to that struggle, go to and donate there. We are still paying legal fees. It’s a beautiful website that talks about the history of the shellmound itself. I encourage you to go down to the West Berkeley shellmound. Please put a tie on the fence with a prayer, a message. Just know that those ancestors are still there, underneath that two acres of land that we’re trying to see and envision, opening up Strawberry Creek in our territory.

In general, get involved. Go out there and do something to help and protect the land, because all of this land is Indigenous land and we all need to live in reciprocity with one another.

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