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Keywords:

  • claims;
  • Coast Miwok;
  • identity;
  • Indians;
  • Point Reyes National Seashore;
  • public land management

ABSTRACT. Group identity serves as a mechanism for claiming rights of control and access to land in the United States. Public land managers face myriad identity-based claims to land in their care. Identity shapes claims that must appear valid within the strictures of a legal system created by a dominant culture to serve its interests. The very form of those systems—of which public lands are a large part—makes possible the expression of particular forms of identity. The story of the Coast Miwok community and the Point Reyes National Seashore suggests that geographical links among identity, landscape, and history are actively constructed through political work and rarely are as obvious as they first appear. Both the formal legal process of federal tribal recognition and restoration and the far less formal Coast Miwok claims to land at Point Reyes National Seashore teach important lessons about neotraditional identity-based claims to public land.