Washoe Tribe signs historic agreement to co-manage lands with California State Parks

Submitted to the Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Sierra State Parks Foundation recently announced an agreement between the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and the Sierra District of California State Parks. Chairman of the Washoe Tribe Serrell Smokey and California State Parks Director Armando Quintero signed a new Memorandum of Understanding between the Sierra District and the Tribe on a brisk, sunny morning at Donner Memorial State Park on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

This five-year agreement formalizes the government-to-government relationship between the two entities, establishes a protocol for open discussions, and outlines the responsibilities of State Parks and the Tribe to promote successful cooperation, co-management, and collaboration for the mutual benefit of the Washoe Tribe and State Parks.

The MOU introduces Traditional Management Practices and Ecological Knowledge to the management of 12 State Park Units ted in the Washoe people’s traditional homeland. The mutually beneficial activities outlined in the MOU include:

  • Washoe Tribal access.
  • Co-management of Tribal traditional and cultural areas.
  • Partnering on forestry and natural resource projects.
  • Collaborating on interpretive themes, educational programs, public outreach, and collections management.

The 12 Sierra District state park units included are Burton Creek State Park, Cascade Creek Unit, D.L. Bliss SP, Donner Memorial SP, Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point SP, Emerald Bay SP, Grover Hot Springs SP, Kings Beach State Recreation Area, Lake Valley SRA, Tahoe SRA, Ward Creek Unit, and Washoe Meadows SP. The Sierra District and the Sierra State Parks Foundation look forward to working together with the Washoe Tribe as good stewards of the land and providing memorable experiences to future generations. 

Quintero remarked that by creating these MOU agreements with Tribal entities, the department is meeting the goals of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Order B-10-11, which requires the governor’s Tribal Advisor and the Administration to engage in government-to-government consultation with California Native American Tribes regarding policies that may affect Tribal communities, and also Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-15-19, which established the Truth and Healing Council. 

Woodfords Community Tribal Chairman, Irvin Jim, spoke of how working with his late mother, Washoe elder Linda Shoshone, as a Tribal monitor in California State Parks, allowed him to immerse himself in the land and water where his people originated. Reflecting on the MOU, Chairman Jim said that “it is a beautiful thing for this to happen, my mother is smiling.”

“This proves to other states this can be done” and can serve as a template for “other Tribes to be able to access their lands across the Nation,” Chairman Smokey added.

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