Water & Land Back to Indigenous Care

Manahuu Relatives, we are grateful to share an exciting opportunity with you and invite you to participate and support us as we launch our fundraising campaign to return Water & Land Back to Indigenous Care!


Since time immemorial, Payahuunadü (Owens Valley) has been home to the Nüümü (Paiute) and Newe (Shoshone) people. Located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, the local name, "place of the flowing water," is reflective of the abundant water flowing down from the mountains.

Unfortunately, the land is primarily controlled by outside entities, and the water has been stolen and exported by the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) since 1913. LADWP owns 95% of the valley floor, while the tribes combined own 1/3 of 1%. Learn more here Owens Valley Story Map.

Among the 1.6% of lands in private ownership, Three Creeks is a rare 5-acre oasis owned by Gigi Coyle and collectively cared for by many stewards over the last 30 years.

In September of 2022, Gigi accepted a proposal from the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission (OVIWC) with support from core partners to purchase Three Creeks for $900,000 and return the water and land back into indigenous care. Gigi has already given us a generous start by offering this watering hole well below market value.

This opportunity will provide space for our Collective to nurture connections that build alliances, bring attention to local/global water issues, contribute to food sovereignty, support cultural revitalization, and engage youth in community with global stewards.

We Urgently Need Your Support to Meet our First Fundraising Goal of $900K by February 21st! This is the first phase in a longer-range goal of raising $2,000,000 total to cover maintenance, building repair and stewardship.

Please consider supporting us by making a monetary tax-exempt contribution today and help us reach our goals!

For contributions over $1000, checks can be made to the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission and mailed to 46 TuSu Lane, Bishop, CA 93514 or contact Teri Red Owl at (760) [phone redacted].

By returning Three Creeks to Indigenous care and building upon what has been held here, this 5-acre sanctuary will offer holistic connections to:
  • Culture
  • Food Sovereignty, Land Stewardship & Water Protection
  • Healing
  • Relationship Building
  • Education & Art

Three Creeks will be a safe place where Indigenous people can begin healing from the historical traumas caused by displacement and loss of culture while continuing to welcome and invite global, regional, and local stewards to collaborate and heal. Collectively, we will nurture and care for the land, water, and spirit of Three Creeks.

As the first Water & Land Back example in our region, this project will be a stepping stone for expanding the land base of the Indigenous people of Payahuunadü. Our work will serve as a model that can be replicated to acquire other privately owned properties and lands in the area and the entire valley.

Walking and listening together will bring healing and space to help us remember who we are and what is ours to do together.

The Owens Valley Indian Water Commission and core partners Teena Pugliese and Jen Schlaich have come together to form Three Creeks Collective.

OVIWC is an Indigenous-led consortium made up of three Tribes (Bishop, Big Pine and Lone Pine Tribes) that was established in 1991 to assist the original stewards of the land with securing water rights, acquiring land, protecting the environment, expanding agriculture, educating youth, stewarding the land, and reclaiming Indigenous knowledge.

Radicle Wellness LLC (Jen Schlaich) partners people+plants to re-inspire relationships where we each hold a central role in the cultivation of individual, community, and environmental health.

Teena Pugliese is a youth mentor, facilitator and digital artist focused on land stewardship and building community with people, place, and planet. She has a passion for using storytelling & performance as pathways toward healing & connection.

Led by Indigenous partners and supported by non-indigenous relatives, Three Creeks Collective is committed to the care, protection, and sharing of these sacred lands and waters.

Filmed and Edited by Three Creeks Collective Core Partner Teena Pugliese
To see a longer version of our film visit: https://vimeo.com/775648108/10a7f9c690

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