Esselen Tribe Purchases Ancestral Lands Near Big Sur, Part of $4.5M Deal

The land, five miles inland from the ocean, is north of Little Sur River, where endangered steelhead spawn. (Western Rivers Conservancy)

“The land is the most important thing to us. It is our homeland, the creation story of our lives,” says Tom Little Bear Nason, Chairman of the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County. 

Some 250 years after their ancestral lands near Big Sur were lost to colonial settlers, the Esselen Tribe has purchased them back.

The Tribe of Monterey County, California, has closed escrow on 1,199 acres of land, situated some 20 miles south of Monterey and five miles inland from the ocean, as part of a $4.5 million deal that involved the State of California and Oregon-based environmental group Western Rivers Conservancy, reported KQED

The Esselen Tribe will use the 1,199 acres of land, spanning a space slightly larger than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, for educational and cultural purposes.

The Tribe’s relationship with the lands stretches back some 8,000 years. Stewards of the land, the Tribe will empower the conservation of old-growth redwoods and endangered wildlife.