The month of August allows a congressional recess in Washington, presenting a chance for our law makers to take a break from Capitol Hill and go home to meet with their constituents. Within California the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation sits within the 2nd Congressional District, and Jared Huffman serves as a House of Representative Congressman. Congressman Huffman represents 23 federally recognized Indian tribes within this district, giving him the largest number of Tribe’s within the 51 congressional districts in the State of California.
Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation leadership over the last ten years has developed relationships with our congressional representatives to ensure federal decision makers are cognizant of Tolowa’s needs and desires. This relationship has established an annual visit with Congressman Huffman in Smith River. On August 15, 2017 Congressman Huffman met with the Tribal Council and key staff to discuss Tribal concerns regarding the arduous fee to trust process, and the last chance grade failure as well as areas of interest including economic opportunity, and the social nexus between cultural identity in relation to the Nation’s insufficient land base.
Within the House, Congressman Huffman is known for his environmental stewardship and resource protection, and is busy working to ensure the resources of our region are preserved for future generations. His values as a Congressman fall in alignment with Tolowa principles of responsible stewardship that also may provide economic opportunity. Congressman Huffman recently unveiled a discussion draft bill entitled, Northern California Conservation and Recreation Act that would protect important wild places and pristine streams on federal lands, restore forests and fish habitat, benefit local economies, enhance recreational opportunities, and protect communities by reducing fire-danger. The Nation’s Office of Self- Governance is currently analyzing the discussion draft and will be providing comments to Huffman’s office that will address potential concerns and areas of collaboration to develop comprehensive forest stewardship.
The Tribal Council had the opportunity to share the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation’s history of land loss and the Nation’s relationship, both historically and presently to Tolowa land. The message to Congressman Huffman that transcended from the top of Xaa-wan’-le’, “our land base is not sufficient to provide for economic prosperity and self-determination, and we are looking to solutions to provide for a better life for Tolowa people.”