'It Means the World': Legislation to Return Karuk Sacred Lands Awaiting President's Signature

By

1 comment
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.
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman announced today that legislation to place federal lands in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties into a trust for the Karuk Tribe has passed out of the House of Representatives and is now awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature to become law.

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.

“Today, we can finally correct a historic injustice and return sacred land to its rightful owners, the Karuk Tribe. Thanks to the partnership of Senator Padilla and the Karuk’s tireless work, our Sacred Lands Act will now become law. These lands, known as Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam, are not only majestic, they are central to Karuk history, religion, traditions, and identity. Placing them in trust ensures that the Karuk culture and way of life can endure for future generations,” Huffman said in a release.

Currently, the Karuk Tribe only has a special permit to access the land for ceremonial purposes, but that is not always guaranteed and sometimes the ceremonies are interrupted, even if not intentionally, mainly by river rafters.

“It means the world to have our most sacred sites returned to us. The Karuk Tribe appreciates the hard work of Congressman Huffman, Senators Padilla and Feinstein, and their teams,” Karuk Chair Russell “Buster” Attebery said in the announcement. “This accomplishment is great for the Karuk People and all of Indian Country,”

Read the full release from Huffman’s office below:

Today, Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-San Rafael) legislation The Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam Sacred Lands Act passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives and is on its way to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The legislation will place federal lands located in Humboldt and Siskiyou counties in California into trust for the Karuk Tribe. “Today, we can finally correct a historic injustice and return sacred land to its rightful owners, the Karuk Tribe. Thanks to the partnership of Senator Padilla and the Karuk’s tireless work, our Sacred Lands Act will now become law.

These lands, known as Katimiîn and Ameekyáaraam, are not only majestic, they are central to Karuk history, religion, traditions, and identity. Placing them in trust ensures that the Karuk culture and way of life can endure for future generations,” Rep. Jared Huffman said.

“For Karuk people, the lands covered by our bill represent the center of the world, which is why they deserve unrestricted access to these ancestral sites in order to practice their religion and preserve their customs for future generations,” said Senator Padilla. “Restoring these lands to the stewardship of the Karuk Tribe is a long overdue moral imperative, and I look forward to the President singing our bill into law.”

“It means the world to have our most sacred sites returned to us. The Karuk Tribe appreciates the hard work of Congressman Huffman, Senators Padilla and Feinstein, and their teams. This accomplishment is great for the Karuk People and all of Indian Country,” said Karuk Chairman Russell “Buster” Attebery.

Background

For Karuk people, the land identified in this legislation is the center of the world. The historical village and ceremonial site of Katimiîn is the location of a final series of annual Pik-ya-vish world renewal ceremonies. Pik-ya-vish translates as “to fix it,” how Karuk people approach their responsibility to keeping these places in balance with their cultural and spiritual values.

Ameekyáaraam, just down river from Katimiîn, is the site of Jump Dance and First Salmon Ceremony – both vital components of world renewal ceremonies and for pre-contact inter-tribal coordination of fish harvest up and down the river to ensure long-term sustainability of salmon runs. These ceremonies were also ways to keep the world in balance between individuals and families.

This area is essential to inter-generational teaching and learning needed to ensure future generations of Karuk people know and understand Karuk culture and customs. Currently the tribe has a Special Use Permit with the United States Forest Service (USFS) that allows access to the grounds for ceremony.

This access is not guaranteed and in some years the tribe is interrupted by public intrusions during private and sacred components of the world renewal ceremonies. Only USFS lands will transfer to the tribe; all private lands, allotments and existing rights associated with those will be excluded.

A copy of the legislation can be found here.

A map of the Katimiîn area can be found here

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Add a comment