Right Relations 2024 Begins!

This blog was written in partnership with TOGETHER Bay Area and Redbud Resource Group staff. You can see it posted on Redbud Resource Group’s blog here

The start of 2024 also marked the beginning of a new year for Right Relations, a cohort-based program that supports alliances with local Native American communities through learning, action, and community. This program, designed in partnership between Redbud Resource Group and TOGETHER Bay Area, catalyzes collective action for healthy lands, people, and communities and builds the region’s capacity to strengthen Tribal sovereignty. After a successful pilot year in 2022–2023, we’re excited to announce that the Right Relations program has expanded to include three cohorts working towards these goals.

Learning, Action, and Community

In Phase One, TOGETHER Bay Area members will experience online workshops, in-person field trips, round table discussions with Native leaders, and sessions focused on action planning. They will explore why strengthening Tribal sovereignty is essential for addressing the climate crisis, how colonialism continues to impact our communities and ecosystems, and how to leverage resources to support Native communities and ecosystems for the benefit of all.

Participating organizations have committed to developing an action plan based on what they learn in the program. Phase One includes 50 participants from 13 organizations:

  • Coastside Land Trust
  • Golden Gate Bird Alliance
  • Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
  • John Muir Land Trust
  • Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, National Park Service
  • LandPaths
  • Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
  • Presidio Trust
  • SF Public Utilities Commission
  • Sonoma County Ag + Open Space
  • Sonoma Land Trust
  • Together Bay Area
  • YES Nature to Neighborhoods

“Right Relations helped me personally deepen my connection to this work through thoughtful and incredible leadership from the Redbud and TBA team. They are amazing facilitators and it was a gift to learn directly from Native leaders in the region. It was powerful to be in a cohort with other environmental leaders in the Bay Area committed to Native partnerships. To be together in a collective, learn together, and visit Native land together was an amazing experience that I highly recommend. This program is working at an intersection of land, Tribal sovereignty, education and radical imagination of how to heal and build relationships in a respectful and reciprocal way.”

Deepening Relationships

Participants from the 2022–2023 pilot program will continue their learning and community support in Phase Two. At the end of the pilot program, each organization created an action plan based on what they learned and experienced. Plans included tangible actions they could take both within and beyond their organizations, including:  

  • Offer immediate access for gathering of acorns and plants.
  • Update our land transaction prioritization, partnership, and due diligence processes to incorporate Native values, perspectives, and priorities
  • Build on existing practices of compensating for tribal time and expertise on consultation and collaboration by instituting departmental policies.
  • Explore land transfer mechanisms that can provide new models for Tribal ownership, cultural access and management.
  • Identify multiple points of contact within our organization and each tribe so relationships can be long-lasting and not just rely on one key person.

In Phase Two of the program, participating organizations will continue to work towards implementing these action plans with continued learning opportunities and support from Redbud Resource Group, TOGETHER Bay Area, and their cohort community to address challenges and opportunities as they arise. 

Phase Two includes 27 participants from 10 organizations:  

  • California Academy of Sciences
  • East Bay Municipal Utility District
  • Grassroots Ecology
  • Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
  • National Park Service – Four Parks of the East Bay
  • Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship
  • Save the Redwoods League
  • Sonoma Land Trust

Throughout the year, Phases One and Two cohorts will come together to share resources, experiences, and learnings to guide and support each other as they work toward their action steps.

Building Capacity for Native Leadership

In addition, Redbud Resource Group has launched Restoring Right Relations, a 12-month leadership program for California Native community members who want to build leadership skills, grow positive relationships within Indian Country, and develop skills for implementing projects in their communities. This strategic planning program for Native leaders builds capacity for Native communities to restore land, resources, and sovereignty back to Native peoples. The participants in the Restoring Right Relations program represent various tribal communities across the State of California.

Supporting and uplifting more Native leaders benefits all people and builds partnerships across Tribal communities and non-Native organizations, corporations, and agencies. The health of our land, water, ecosystems, and everything in between affects us all. Together, we can make a change that will impact all of our communities for this generation and into the future.

Why Right Relations?

Being in right relations means embodying respect and reciprocity to foster healthy relationships with our plant, animal, and human relatives. It means to move through the world with an awareness of your impact on the communities and ecosystems that we all share. To maintain right relations, consider how your actions impact others, be generous with your time, energy, and resources, and help maintain balance in the natural world.

For many Native people, being in right relations is a way of life. Weavers practice respect and reciprocity with their plant and water relatives to ensure they have quality basketry materials to work with, without harming the ecosystem. Traditional dancers, language keepers, and healers commune with the environment by practicing ancestral knowledge that is aligned with the needs of those communities – most commonly referred to as Traditional Ecological Knowledge or TEK. Being in right relations means that the human people are taken care of, while also caring for the land that holds the plant and animal relatives. In return, having access and being in right relationship with the land, water, plant, and animal relatives helps Native communities strengthen sovereignty, reestablish relationships with their ancestral lands, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

More opportunities to learn and take action

Thank you to our funders, whose support makes the Right Relations program possible.

The pilot program was generously supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Sobrato Philanthropies. The Packard Foundation and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District generously support the 2024 Right Relations program. Additional funding is needed to continue and expand the Right Relations program. Please contact Annie Burke at [email protected] if you’re interested in supporting this work.