Tiana Williams-Claussen is a member of the Yurok Nation and Director of the Yurok Tribe Wildlife Department. In this episode, she shares the story of how the California Condor, known as Prey-go-neesh in the Yurok language, went extinct on Yurok lands due to the environmental exploitation that followed the California Gold Rush. The Yurok Tribe has forged a partnership with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring condors back home.
Bringing Condor Home
Written by Tiana Williams-Claussen
This is BirdNote.
Aiy-yue-kwee nee-kee-chyue. Nek ‘new Tiana Williams-Claussen, esee Puleek’ ‘ne-mey’. I am a Yurok Tribal member, from the village of Wehl-kwel’. My home is in northwestern California, where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean, in the mountains and beautiful coastlines here. The Yurok people have co-evolved with this region as both caretakers and recipients of its bounties.
[Local ambient sound]
Yurok and surrounding tribes are deeply connected with our traditional lands. But that relationship was profoundly damaged after the California Gold Rush. Yurok were forced off our land which was then managed for extraction. This caused many casualties. Prey-go-neesh, or California Condor, was driven locally extinct. Ecologically, as scavengers, condors are the ultimate environmental clean-up crew. Culturally, prey-go-neesh ties closely to local tribal obligations as “World Renewal” people. Prey-go-neesh carries our prayers for the world to be in balance.
Our elders have long been committed to restoring prey-go-neesh to Yurok Ancestral Territory, and it has been the focus of my entire career. The Yurok Tribe has forged a partnership with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring condors back home.
I’m happy to say my four-year-old daughter will grow up with condors in her sky. In May 2022, after more than a century, the first condors flew free in Yurok country. We are bringing Prey-go-neesh, a member of our community, back home.
For BirdNote, this is Tiana Williams-Claussen.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Field recordings by Jessie Eden
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Environmental sound ML 126569 recorded by Thomas G. Sander.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote November 2022
Narrator: Tiana Williams-Claussen
ID# yurok-01-2022-11-18 yurok-01