The Wiyot Tribe Is Getting Its Land Back and Making California More Affordable

Using the first community land trust developed under tribal law in the United States, the group is turning empty buildings in the coastal city of Eureka into transitional housing.

In early February, a light rain sprinkles across the windshield of Michelle Vassel’s forest green Prius, an official vehicle of the Wiyot Tribe. She’s driving south along the CA-255 bridge toward Eureka, a coastal city in Northern California, passing Tuluwat Island. Ted Hernandez, chair of the Wiyot Tribe, sits in the passenger seat, observing the island—the sacred cultural center of the tribe’s cosmological universe. He and Vassel, the tribal administrator, are surveying the ancestral lands the tribe has recovered in the last 20 years.

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