Bringing Tribal culture and tradition to life with help from our public lands

BLM California

Hauling a log for construction in Headwaters Reserve. BLM Photo.
Hauling a log for construction in Headwaters Reserve. BLM Photo.

ARCATA, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management is contributing to an immersive experience and time-honored Tribal tradition along California’s North Coast.

The BLM and two timber companies partnered to provide the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria a downed redwood tree from public lands so the Tribe can build a traditional dance house and living quarter. Tribal members at the Tish Non Village Community Center near Loleta will use the buildings to share experiences of their ancestors dating back to time immemorial.

A small pond in Headwaters Reserve. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.
A small pond in Headwaters Reserve. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.

“We are so proud to support Native cultural practitioners who collect forest resources for traditional uses and look forward to seeing this locally-led conservation project develop,” said BLM Arcata Field Office Assistant Manager Jennifer Wheeler.

“It’s going to be a community thing, revitalizing our culture and revitalizing our community,” said Edward “Gusto” Bowie, Tribal council member at large for the Bear River Band. “It is a healing process. Our goal is to have these houses built up and down the coast, just as it used to be.” 

Looking up at old growth trees in Headwaters Forest Reserve. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.
Looking up at old growth redwoods in Headwaters Forest Reserve. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.

BLM archaeologist Sharyl Kinnear Ferris worked with Bowie to select a segment of downed redwood tree from public lands in the Salmon Pass area of the Headwaters Forest Reserve near Fortuna. Leonardo Logging owner Dave Carter volunteered his time and expertise to load and haul the massive log to Loleta using equipment provided by Humboldt Redwood Company. Members of the Tribe will split and slowly dry the wood before cutting and building with it.

Headwaters Forest Reserve was established in 1999, after the BLM and California State Wildlife Conservation Board purchased the 7,400-acre Headwaters Forest for public ownership. The BLM and California Department of Fish and Wildlife collaborate to protect old growth redwoods, forest stands, streams, and wildlife in the reserve.

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