Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is an urban Indigenous women-led land trust based in the San Francisco Bay Area that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people.
Through the practices of rematriation, cultural revitalization, and land restoration, Sogorea Te’ calls on Native and non-native peoples to heal and transform the legacies of colonization, genocide, and patriarchy and to do the work our ancestors and future generations are calling us to do.
Rematriate: to restore a people to their rightful place in sacred relationship with their ancestral land.
“The loss of land plays out in our every day lives and it shapes how we look at things and how we feel about ourselves. We’ve spent 15 years in the Bay Area doing community organizing in the Indian community. And honestly, all the issues we’re struggling with come down to land. You know, the land was taken and that was such a deep soul wound. The taking of the land, the heart of the people, was the cause of a lot of problems. And I believe that with the land trust, and you know, the land itself, I think that’s really going to help us to find our way back.”Johnella LaRose, Co-Founder/Director of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
We envision a Bay Area in which Ohlone language and ceremony are an active, thriving part of the cultural landscape, where Ohlone place names and history is known and recognized and where intertribal Indigenous communities have affordable housing, social services, cultural centers and land to live, work and pray on.
Sogorea Te’ is centered in Huchiun, the ancestral homeland of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, now known as the East Bay.
Ohlone Led and Intertribal
The Bay Area is also home to a diverse diaspora of Indigenous people who, over the years, either moved by choice to the Bay Area or were pushed off their traditional lands during the era of the US Government’s Indian Termination (forced assimilation) policies, such as the Indian Relocation Act of 1956. While Ohlone women are central to our vision and leadership, the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is an intertribal and multicultural Indigenous women-led land trust. We work to restore reciprocal relationships with the sacred land we live on, and with the plants, animals and other human beings who we share this land with. Sogorea Te’ creates opportunities for all people living in Lisjan territory to work together in re-envision the Bay Area community and what it means to live on Ohlone land.
“There are many Indigenous people in the San Francisco Bay Area, and there are many important places in dire need of protection. The land trust and accompanying tool of the conservation (or cultural) easement are mechanisms that Indigenous groups can use to protect, access, restore, and reclaim lands.”Beth Rose Middleton Manning, Sogorea Te’ Board Member
“As we reclaim our land in this urban area, it’s important to understand that we are doing that work as Indigenous people from many tribes, working together to create healing on this land.”Corrina Gould, Co-Founder/Director of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
Bringing the ancestors home
“The remains of over 9,000 of our ancestors are locked up at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, along with countless artifacts. The ancestors were violently taken out of the land because of development. That’s one of the main things this land trust is about: getting those ancestors returned to us and put back into the ground so that we can all heal.
Shellmounds are sacred funerary monuments, burial grounds, for Ohlone people. At one time, 425 shellmounds surrounded the entire San Francisco Bay. Every one of them has been destroyed by development. My goal is that one day, we can re-create a shellmound so there is a place for us to actually bring those ancestors home and re-inter them. With everybody helping out, it can happen.”Corrina Gould, Co-Founder/Director of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
“We believe that these ancestors are taking care of us, and we’re going to become ancestors ourselves. If we don’t take care of these ancestors, we’re not going to get those messages, and those teachings that we need to move on in this life. So we have to do a good job of keeping them safe in their burial sites.”Johnella LaRose, Co-Founder/Director of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
Indigenous Women Leadership
Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is founded by and led by Indigenous women.
“Right now I really feel like the land is calling women back…to take care of the land. I really feel like that’s where we’re are at this time in history.”Johnella LaRose, Co-Founder/Director of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
“We have this opportunity to create an urban Native land trust that is women led: to bring in all our relations in a new kind of community that is so desperately needed in the world today.”Melissa K. Nelson, Board Member of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
“My ancestors have always been here. That’s my blessing, my grandchildren’s blessing, that they were born on the land that their ancestors have always been on. And maybe my great-grandchildren will be born here, too. Our umbilical cords are buried in this land. Our ancestors’ DNA is in this land. And we continue to stand our ground.”Corrina Gould, Co-Founder/Director of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust