Restoring Our Native Land

A primary goal of the Todd’s Valley Miwok Maidu Cultural Foundation is to preserve the indigenous forest management practices that sustained California Indians for centuries. 

Prior to European contact in the early 1800s, the native population deliberately managed wild plant resources and animal habitat throughout the Sierra Nevada. Indigenous management practices were long-term and widespread, and had substantial impacts on California ecology. Controlled fire, also known as broadcast burning, was one of the primary tools used at this time. These practices maintained diverse and productive ecosystems for thousands of years, but these ecosystems were dependent on indigenous management. During the 1800s the native population was decimated by disease and denied access to their native land. Fire suppression became the norm, first to protect the valuable timber industry and later to defend expanding residential communities. These fire suppression policies led to increased fuel load on the forest floor and decreased biodiversity, with significant negative impacts on the California ecology. 

We currently have access to 18.5 acres of our ancestral land near Foresthill, California through a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Like the surrounding forest, this land has been adversely affected by lack of tribal stewardship over the last 200 years, resulting in decreased biodiversity, loss of wildlife habitat, increased pests and disease, and increased risk of catastrophic wildfire. Our goal is to restore this land to a state reminiscent of the pre-colonial period and to create a model for restoration and maintenance of similar forestland based on indigenous management practices.