California to return historic amount of land to Native tribe

By Madilynne Medina,News Reporter

June 19, 2024 (

The Shasta Indian Nation will be returned 2,820 acres of ancestral land in northwestern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday. 

The land return is the largest in California history and comes as a reconciliation effort to apologize to Native communities for historical injustices, the release said. 

Newsom’s office said he discussed the land return with the Shasta Indian Nation earlier this month after visiting the Klamath River dam removal project, which is on ancestral lands near the California-Oregon border. The project is the largest dam removal and river restoration in the country intended to restore land and more than 300 miles of salmon habitat. The 2,820 acres of land being transferred are associated with the dams, the governor’s office said. 

Several dams along the Klamath River are being removed as part of the land return. The Copco and Iron Gate dams are two of the four that have already been drained.

The land was originally taken from the Shasta people more than 100 years ago after the Copco dam was constructed, Shasta Indian Nation Chairperson Janice Crowe said in a statement. 

“The Shasta Indian Nation is pleased with the Governor’s decision to support the return our ancestral lands and sacred sites,” Crowe said. “Having access to our ceremonial sites, including the site of our First Salmon Ceremony, is critical to the spiritual and emotional health of our people.”

The transfer of land announcement also comes during the fifth anniversary of the state’s formal apology to California Native Americans, which created a Truth and Hearing Council. The council includes a state tribal advisor and representatives from Native American tribes who are responsible for drafting a report by Jan. 1, 2025 with “findings regarding the historical relationship between the state and Native Americans,” according to the government’s office.

Also as part of the reconciliation efforts, two Bay Area indigenous groups, the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust in Oakland and the Tamien Nation in San Jose were given state grants to assist in land return and stewardship projects, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

Newsom’s administration awarded $107.7 million total to California Native American tribes, which resulted in 49,345 acres of returned land. 

June 19, 2024

Madilynne Medina


Madilynne Medina is a news reporter for SFGATE. She is an alumna of San Jose State where she served as executive editor for the “Spartan Daily.” She is also a Bay Area native. Email her at


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