Where Indigenous Land Return Is Already Happening

U.S. cities are responding to the global #LandBack movement by returning land to the stewardship of Indigenous people — to whom it rightfully belongs.

News conference in 2022 announcing return of land back to indigenous stewardship. (Courtesy City of Oakland)

A routine land acknowledgment before a meeting or event isn’t the only way to honor the Indigenous people whose land was taken from them. Some U.S. cities are taking action and returning land to Indigenous stewardship.

In this episode of the Next City podcast, our executive director Lucas Grindley talks with editorial director Deonna Anderson about the Land Back movement, which is a call from Indigenous people across the United States to reclaim their ancestral lands. 

Joining the conversation are Viola LeBeau and Inés Ixierda of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust in Oakland, where the city has returned five acres to the care of Sogorea Te’ and other Indigenous groups. 

“Every kind of way to access land is a tool for land return,” says Ixierda. “And one thing that's interesting about the cultural easement approach that we are taking is that we're really separating all the rights of land from an ownership model. Where with ownership, you get the deed and then you can resell it, if you're taking land out of ownership, there's no more profit that will ever be made off that land. There's no more exploitation of the resources on that land. There's a certain set of values that Sogorea Te’ encompass once land comes into our access.”

To learn more about how Indigenous people seek to be in community with the land and recognize their relationship with all things in the world, to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods. Or check out our recent Solutions of the Year webinar featuring LeBeau and Ixierda.

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