Recent Letters From Coyote Valley Re: Ongoing Cultural Genocide, Destruction of Cultural Sites

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians (as well as the Sherwood Valley Rancheria and the Round Valley Indian Tribes) have tried persistently, and in an exhaustive manner, to compel state and federal regulatory authorities to protect cultural sites in both the Willits Bypass construction zone and in the so-called “mitigation construction” areas, in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act and other legal authorities.

Yesterday, defenders of these sacred sites gathered to call attention to CalTrans’ ongoing desecration of the rich cultural areas in what is today known as Little Lake Valley.  For context on the destruction that continues to play out, we are providing links to eight recent letters from the Coyote Valley Band to CalTrans and regulatory agencies that comprehensively describe these issues.

  • Letter to CalTrans — May 11, 2015
  • Letter to CalTrans’ Mike Bartlett — May 21 2015
  • Letter to CalTrans’ Charlie Fielder — June 11, 2015
  • Letter to Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Colonel John C. Morrow — June 25, 2015
  • Letter to North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board member John W. Corbett — June 25, 2015
  • Letter to Army Corps Lt. Colonel Morrow Regarding Herbicides
  • Letter to North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Matthew St. John Regarding Herbicides
  • Ceremony and Demonstration to Be Held on Caltrans’ Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands to Protect Native American Sites

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    July 23, 2015
    Contact: Priscilla Hunter, Band of Pomo Indians: 707-391-6410
    Naomi Wagner (707) 459-0548
    Audio: Maria Gilardin 707- 463-2654

    A prayer ceremony will be held today, July 23, at 10:00 a.m., at a site just off highway 101, north of Willits, where the northern interchange of the Willits bypass is being built, to ask for protection of the many Pomo ancestral cultural sites being discovered and destroyed by Caltrans on bypass mitigation lands. The ceremony will be led by Fred Short, spiritual leader of the American Indian Movement in California.

    Concerns about the destruction of Native American cultural sites on the mitigation lands have been raised by local Pomo tribes in recent visits and letters to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and Army Corp of Engineers, agencies in charge of Caltrans’ 401 operating permit and the Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (MMP)

    Testifying before the Water Board on June 18, Priscilla Hunter, Coyote Valley Tribal representative, stated: “The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians objects to Caltrans’ use of the current requirements of the mitigation plan on the Willits Bypass Project as a rationale for not avoiding our ancestral cultural sites…due to the requirements of the Mitigation Monitoring Plan (MMP) approved by your agency”. Continue reading

    Ceremony for Protection of Ancestral Sites

    Forming a big circle at Willits City Park.

    A prayer ceremony will be held at the tipis opposite the bypass construction zone, just north of Willits, at 10:00 a.m., Thursday July 23, to ask for protection of the many Pomo ancestral cultural sites now being destroyed by Caltrans on the mitigation lands. The ceremony will be led by Fred Short, spiritual leader of the American Indian Movement in California.

    Our recent visits and letters to the Water Board (in charge of Caltrans’ 401 operating permit governing work on the mitigation lands), have focused attention on the multi-headed hydra of cultural destruction and herbicide use.

    In an amazing feat of doublespeak, Caltrans’ now claims they not only must use herbicides to eradicate blackberries faster, so they can plant native species and “create wetlands”, they also insist they cannot do manual removal because it has the potential to disturb “cultural resources”! This, after bulldozing entire village sites, pulverizing scores of artifacts, trenching across designated sites to install water lines for livestock and changing up the rules to make sure nothing “significant” is ever found!

    Please join us in ceremony to oppose Caltrans’ ongoing callous disregard for the cultural heritage of the Pomo people. Thank you for all your past support and participation.

    Here’s the schedule, subject to flexibility: Continue reading

    American Indian Movement Spirit Run Arrives in Willits — Friday, June 26th!

    1546193_530788300380201_2798054824080944420_nFor the second straight year, American Indian Movement spiritual marathon runners’ 500-mile relay marathon culminates with a celebration in Willits. The runners arrive at Evergreen Mall at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 26th, and continue on to Willits City Park for a song, prayer, rally, speeches, and sharing food. Their run culminates a week-long 500-mile relay marathon, celebrating a
    spiritual tradition of messenger runners among First Nations people.

    Click here to read Save Our Little Lake Valley’s online summary of the Spiritual Marathon’s arrival in Willits, complete with photos.

    Spirit Runners' supporters making their way down Main St. last June 26th. The Spirit Runners are out ahead at this point.

    Spirit Runners’ supporters making their way down Main St. last June 26th. The Spirit Runners are out ahead at this point.

    Their message is that “All Life is Sacred.” They come to Willits specifically to support the protection of Native archeological sites, wetlands, and forests now under threat. Help us celebrate their achievement and hear about efforts to save remaining Pomo archaeological sites from the destruction from the Willits Bypass.

    IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU BRING:
    *    food and drinks to share
    *    small folding tables, and blankets and chairs to sit on

    Contact Lara with SOLLV: Let her know what you can bring so we can plan for the approximatley 50 Spirit Runners and a host of supporters from Willits, the American Indian Movement, folks from Coyote Valley and Round Valley, and more.  Lara’s address: laraanderson44[~at~]gmail.com

    Coyote Valley Band Letter to Water Board Regarding CalTrans Herbicide Use

    coyote-valley-tribe“Dear Mt. John,

    We are writing to support the resolutions recently passed by both the City Council of Willits and Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County, urging your agencies not to allow the use of herbicides or pesticides in the Caltrans Willits Bypass mitigation lands… In view of these and other strong concerns, we call for a public and tribal review of the state and federal Mitigation and Monitoring Plan (MMPs) before further work proceeds.”  Read the full letter here.

    Stop Herbicide Spraying in Little Lake Valley!

    COME TO REGIONAL WATER BOARD, Thursday, June 18th

    We need to show up in large numbers to urge the Water Board NOT to allow the use of herbicides in our wetlands. The Willits City Council and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors have both adopted resolutions to this effect. Yet the Water Board staff may nonetheless rubber-stamp this Caltrans method for attempting to eradicate Himalayan blackberries.

    The Caltrans plan probably involves using a mix of glyphosate (Round-up) and Imazapyr (used in hack & squirt) on about 60 acres over a three-year period. We (and the City and County elected officials) believe this plan would cause more harm than good, and there are better alternatives, including leaving the blackberries alone (they provide habitat and shade for salmon streams) or using goats and/or solarization to control them. Herbicides should NOT be an option!

    For more information, see the County Board of Supervisors Resolution and the SOLLV letter to the Water Board.

    Please come to the Regional Water Board meeting!

    Carpool from the Evergreen Shopping Center leaving promptly at 7:15am. (The meeting starts at 8:30, at 5550 Skylane Blvd., off Airport Dr., in Santa Rosa; public comment period likely won’t start until about 9am.)

    If you can’t be there in person, please send a comment to: matt.st.john@waterboards.ca.gov. (Send us a copy too.)

    Important Court Decision on Highway Expansion in WI

    For an overview of how CalTrans used essentially the same methods to justify the Willits Bypass, click here.  From 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin:

    Last Friday, a federal district court ruled in favor of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin in a case they brought against both the US and Wisconsin departments of transportation. At issue was a proposed highway expansion and a set of bogus traffic projections used to justify it. The court said, in essence, that if the DOT is going to project a huge increase in traffic while population and actual traffic counts are dropping, they need to show how they came up with that.

    This decision has huge implications. Together we’ve long battled the standard DOT approach of continual highway expansion justified through faulty projection methods. This decision is a really important pushback. Continue reading