California Native American tribe reacquires ancestral land in downtown Sacramento

(FOX40.COM) — A historic land deal in downtown Sacramento has allowed a California Native American tribe to reacquire a part of its ancestral lands that have become a prime piece of real estate in the capital city.

For nearly the last two decades, 301 Capitol Mall has been a fenced-off property surrounded by mystery regarding what might eventually be built on the perfectly square parcel.

On Tuesday, the property received one of its biggest announcements in years as the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians announced the purchase of the property from CalPERS, a California agency that handles pensions and health benefits for state workers.

“CalPERS, along with its investment partner and consultant, felt that the undeveloped land no longer fit the strategic goals of the pension fund’s real estate program. CalPERS wrote about the sale of the building. “Over the past decade, CalPERS has shifted its real estate investments from development and growth to provide diversification, a stable cash yield, and inflation protection.”

According to the tribe’s Chairwoman Regina Cuellar, the 2.39-acre parcel sits in part of the ancestral home of the Nisenan people and once was home to the village of Pusúune.

“The land is part of the foundation of our existence. It is where our ancestors lived and flourished,” Cuellar writes in a news release. “By re-acquiring our ancestral lands, we’re reclaiming our history, our traditions and a deeper connection to our ancestors.”

The tribe is located near Placerville and has been federally recognized since 1916 when it was known as the Sacramento-Verona Band of Homeless Indians.

The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians say they have now reclaimed a portion of their homelands and have shown their continued commitment to creating strong relationships with the Sacramento community.

“In celebrating this historic purchase, we are reminded of the importance of honoring our past while continuing to build a future that reflects our shared values and aspirations,” Cuellar writes.

The tribe has not announced any immediate plans for the property.

301 Capitol Mall in the 21st Century

In July 2005, the City of Sacramento was under review for the final environmental impact report for the Towers on Capitol Mall project.

Towers on Capitol Mall was to be a large-scale mixed-use commercial project featuring two 615-foot tall towers that would have eclipsed Sacramento’s current tallest building, the Wells Fargo Center.

These would have been the highest residential towers on the West Coast.

According to the final EIR, the project would have covered 2.42 acres and provided 1,800,000 square feet of residential, hotel and retail space.

Before the proposed Towers project, a four-story building stood on the property that housed the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.

The Towers project would break ground in 2006, but a shaky economy and financial hardships for developers would lead to a pause on the project and its eventual cancelation in 2007.

Since then, the exposed pylons for the massive towers have sat surrounded by a landscape of dirt and unkempt grass.

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