California Indian tribe gets back Big Sur ancestral lands

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — A Native American tribe has reclaimed a small part of ancestral lands on California’s Big Sur coast that were lost to Spanish colonial settlement nearly 250 years ago. The Mercury News reports the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County closed escrow on 1,199 acres about 5 miles inland from the ocean that was part of a $4.5 million deal involving the state and the Western Rivers Conservancy. It marks the first restoration of any lands to the tribe, which lost 90% of its approximately 1,000 members to disease and other causes by the early 1800s. The land encompasses old-growth redwoods, oak woodlands, meadows and endangered steelhead trout.