Bay Nature is very proud to announce that digital editor Eric Simons has won a 2021 Excellence in Journalism award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter (SPJ NorCal) for his story “Land Back: Indigenous land repatriation is much discussed and little practiced in the Bay Area. Why is it hard to return stolen land?”, published in Bay Nature magazine’s Winter 2021 issue.
“Land Back” uncovers the challenges and complexities of repatriating land in the San Francisco Bay Area to descendants of the region’s Indigenous communities despite the accelerating movement towards repatriation around the world and the resurgent recognition of tribal ways in stewarding habitats and managing wildfire. Area tribal groups like the Muwekma, Ramaytush, Amah Mutsun, and Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, who cared for the land many generations before European settlers lay claim to it, still face an uphill battle in reclaiming their land and heritage. Eric explores the many reasons why.
“This is the kind of reporting that deserves to be read and reread,” said Bay Nature editor in chief Victoria Schlesinger. “Eric has distilled years of reporting on Bay Area Indigenous communities and land trusts to unpack one of the important questions of our time.”
Eric joined Bay Nature in the fall of 2013 after several years of teaching at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and managing the news site Richmond Confidential. A longtime Bay Area resident, he grew up exploring the creeks and pastures of the East Bay. A former kayak instructor, newspaper journalist, and freelance writer, Eric is the author of Darwin Slept Here, a travel adventure and natural history that traces Charles Darwin’s route across mainland South America; and The Secret Lives of Sports Fans, an investigation into the scientific origins of fans’ strong attachments to sports teams.
Eric won in the “features journalism” (print/online small division) category of the competition. He and his fellow 2021 winners will be honored at SPJ NorCal’s 36th Excellence in Journalism Awards Ceremony, to be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 17. RSVP here.
To arrange interviews with Eric Simons, please contact Beth Slatkin.