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As It Was: Redwoods Provide More than Just a Physical Environment

The physical history of Northern California’s coastal redwood region is linked to the human populations that have interacted with it, from pre-contact times to the present.

The original forest people were intimately connected to their environment.  Their lives depended on more than just the redwood, although it was a source of much of their material culture.

The Chilula people are “from within the redwood tree,” tribal elder and religious leader Minni Reeves of the Hupa Indian Reservation said in an interview in 1976.

And to the Yurok people, redwood trees are living beings and guardians of sacred places.

The author Edwin C. Bearss wrote in his book titled “History of Redwood National Park” that a house “was understood to be a living being.  The redwood that formed its planks was itself the body of one of the Spirit Beings.  Spirit Beings were believed to be a divine race who existed before humans in the redwood region and who taught people the proper way to live …”

The towering redwoods are protected today in more than 40 state parks as well as the Redwood National Park.

Source: The author. Historic Redwood National and State Parks: The Stories Behind One of America’s Great Treasures. Guilford: Lyons Press, 2016. IX-X. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.