Summer 2019 Newsletter
INTRODUCTION FROM CHAIRMAN LOPEZ
By Valentin Lopez, President of AMLT and Chair of Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
Our Amah Mutsun Land Trust continues to grow in amazing ways. When our Land Trust was first starting, I remember being asked what the hardest thing about having a land trust was. After just a few seconds of thought I said, “Trust.” Trusting people outside our Tribe was incredibly hard. I recognize today that this was, and is, a very true answer.
At our Tribal wellness meetings and in talking circles during our AMLT Coastal Stewardship Summer Camp, we’ve talked with our youth about the importance of having healthy relationships. We talk about how healthy relationships are built off of trust in oneself and in the other. Meaning we need to have trust that we (as individuals) can come from a place of knowing ourselves and our needs, and in turn, trust that that same self-awareness and self-respect will be there with the other. This translates into strength in oneself, which can then come together to form mutual respect.
After talking a lot about healthy relationships we have realized that this must apply to all our relationships, not just with other people, but with institutions as well. One of our main guiding principles as a Tribe and land trust is to recognize all elements of Mother Earth are our relatives, and therefore we must form intimate relationships with them and treat them with love, patience, and kindness. As we look at the relationships we formed through our land trust, it is clear that our relationships only exist with organizations that want to heal Mother Earth. We believe that the land and environmental protection agencies that we collaborate with truly want to take care of Mother Earth, and they need our help. Because we know that Mother Earth is sacred, we know that all restoration efforts must begin by restoring the sacredness to the land, and this is something we are helping our partners with.
Our Creation story tells us that it is our responsibility to take care of Mother Earth and all living things. We trust in this creation story and guidance from Creator, along with our relationships we form as an organization, that with our continued work in this direction we will reach our goal of restoring healthy relationships with each other and our Mother Earth.
Today our Tribe is restoring the indigenous knowledge of our ancestors. Our Native Stewardship Corps is working very hard out in the field to restore the coastal prairie along the central coast that existed at first contact. In addition, our Native Stewards are working with archaeologist and AMLT Research Associate Rob Cuthrell to survey the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument to identify archaeological and biological resources (read more here). Understanding that fire is a gift and a tool given to us by Creator, AMLT is looking for ways to increase the amount of fire training our stewards receive so we can participate in more cultural/prescribed fires. We are also looking forward to applying our research and stewardship to coastal resources, which you can read a little bit about in this article.
Altogether, there is endless work to be done in restoring the health of Mother Earth and for humans to restore a healthy relationship with her once again. As I often say, there are enough of us Amah Mutsun and indigenous peoples to lead these efforts in healing Mother Earth, but not enough of us to do this work alone. We need as many people as possible to stand with us to do this work in stewarding the earth that we share. We trust in this guidance from Creator, even with all the uncertainty in our world, and we give thanks to those that put their trust in our work.