Current Projects

California Tribal Fund Webinars

With the recent signing of bills, including Assembly Bill 1180, which adds federally recognized California Indian tribes to the list of agencies offered a right of first refusal when purchasing surplus lands from a local agency, and Senate Bill 231, which transfers ownership of the property known as Blues Beach from Caltrans to a non-profit consisting of three local tribal governments (the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo, Round Valley Indian Tribes, and Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians), there is a growing interest among California tribal communities related to accessing state surplus lands, navigating private land donations, and engaging in land buyback

To explore these opportunities, the California Tribal Fund, a program of First Nations Development Institute, is hosting a series of webinars to support access to ancestral lands for California tribes. This series lays a foundation for California-based tribes and Native organizations to seek upcoming grant support through the California Tribal Fund for land reparations and land returns.

Webinar 1: Land Access Webinar

November 4, 2021. Register here

This premiere episode covers a general overview of the mechanics of land transactions, including foundational legal tools, how to set up land trusts and non-profits, and basic governance issues. Leadership from the Native American Land Conservancy will go over a case study of how they formed an intertribal non-profit to protect and preserve sacred lands.

About the Speakers

Saul Ettin

Saul Ettlin is the Director of Consulting at Community Vision (CV) and has over 20 years of experience managing and advising nonprofits. Over his time at CV he has worked with dozens of organizations to explore and implement sustainable real estate solutions. He has a strong interest in growing the amount of community-owned community assets as both power building and resiliency.

Community Vision promotes economic justice and alleviates poverty by increasing the financial resilience and sustainability of community-based nonprofits and enterprises. We are a nonprofit lender primarily providing financing to community-based real estate projects. Since our founding, CV has invested more than $350 million to projects throughout California, impacting the lives of more than 1.5 million neighbors. Our lending and consulting services support organizations that provide affordable housing, equitable and sustainable access to healthy food, community arts, and critical social, medical and youth services.

Nicole Johnson

Nicole Johnson is a California licensed attorney with nearly 20 years of experience in tribal policy and intergovernmental relations. She has worked with tribes throughout the US on issues including cultural resource protection and lands restoration, public health, law enforcement, and economic development. Nicole is a Board Member and the former Executive Director for the Native American Land Conservancy.

The Native American Land Conservancy (NALC) is a non-profit, intertribal organization based in Southern California. Since 1998, the NALC has worked to protect sacred lands and create opportunities for tribal people to share their values with conservation partners, land owners, and the general public. Our programs engage over 30 tribal communities in California, Arizona, and Nevada and offer mentorship and support to tribal organizations in multiple regions of the US. The NALC administers several sites in the ancestral homelands of the Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Paiute, Quechan, Mohave, and Serrano peoples, including a 2,560-acre area known as the Old Woman Mountains Preserve, and Coyote Hole, a 36-acre cultural property located near Joshua Tree National Park.

Neil Thapar

Neil Thapar (he/him) is the  Co-Founder and Co-Director of Minnow. Neil is an attorney licensed in California with experience supporting alternative legal structures of ownership that promote affordability, community ownership, and long-term sustainable stewardship. Prior to Minnow, Neil was the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Food and Farm Program Director.

Minnow supports the success of California’s farmers of color while in the broader frame of realizing indigenous sovereignty. We principally secure land tenure for farmers of color while returning land governance to indigenous communities in California. We build relationships of consent, raise money to acquire land, and develop democratic structures for organizing land stewardship and farm enterprises.