Category Archives: Sherwood Valley Pomo

Protesters Come Back!

Despite impending rain, activists returned today for a second day of protest against the bitterly contested Caltrans’ Bypass, after shutting down fill operations on the northern interchange all day yesterday. On Tuesday, two groups of activists held long cloth banners with the messages: ”Caltrans Kills Wetlands” and “Caltrans: Paving the Road to Extinction” stretched across the entrance to two haul roads off highway 101, blocking ingress and egress from the construction zone.

A third group, including Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Representative for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and other Native Americans of lineal descent to the area’s Pomo ancestors, succeeded in reaching the ancestral cultural site they want to protect, remaining there for some time with the American Indian Movement (AIM) flag, to drum and pray. The activists then blocked a third stream of dirt-filled trucks, effectively stopping work.

Protesters’ numbers have increased lately due to the participation of Native American Pomo Tribes, including those from Coyote Valley, Sherwood Rancheria, Potter and Redwood Valley, all of whom were represented at the protest. Continue reading

ABC7 News on Damage to Little Lake Pomo Ancestral Site

ABC7 News, which broke the story of CalTrans’ permit suspension by the Army Corps of Engineers this past Friday, chimed in today with a story on the latest damage to a Little Lake Pomo ancestral site, which occurred on June 12th.

The Anderson Valley Advertiser’s detailed online story about the damaged site appeared on Saturday.

ABC’s story says, in part: “ABC7 News has learned that earlier this month construction crews damaged a Native American archaeological site. It was just last Friday the federal government ordered work halted, because of environmental issues. Now we are learning more about what was behind the stop work order on the project.”

Before getting to the ABC story, here’s an excerpt from the AVA story by Will Parrish:

“Even after Keefe and the construction crews realized they had just run machinery through a site they had previously identified as archeologically significant, but had not yet studied in any consequential fashion, they determined that work in the area should continue. In other words, rather than stop work and evaluate the damage, gather information from the archeological deposit that had been fractured by the fresh ground disturbance, or even notify tribes to get their input on the situation, the construction team plunged ahead with installing a waterline in the trench.

Then, they backfilled it.

Keefe, the principal CalTrans archeologist on the project, gave the decision to fill in the site after running through it with a ditchwitch his blessing.

Tribal monitors were not present at the time, although the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians has been adamantly requesting that CalTrans hire two more such monitors to keep up with the huge scope of work taking place on both the Bypass construction route and, as in this case, on the Bypass mitigation lands.”

Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians Resolution Regarding Willits Bypass

The following resolution was adopted by the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Council on April 17, 2014.

WHEREAS, the Preamble to the Document Embodying the Laws, Customs and Traditions of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, (Tribal Constitution), declares in pertinent part as follows :

We, the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, being a sovereign native people, in order to organize for our common good, to maintain and foster our tribal culture, to protect and conserve our land and natural resources and to promote the general welfare of our people and to secure the rights and powers inherent in our sovereign status do hereby establish and adopt this document.

WHEREAS, it is therefore the duty of the Coyote Valley Tribal government pursuant to the Tribal Constitution to preserve and protect our cultural resources and traditions in order to safeguard the general welfare of the Tribe; and

WHEREAS members of our Tribe are lineal descendants of the Little Lake Band of Pomo whose ancestral territory included the Little Lake Valley, the current site of the Willits By Pass project of Cal Trans and the Federal government; and Continue reading

CalTrans Has Damaged Another Archeological Site!

Save Our Little Lake Valley has learned that CalTrans’ construction crews have, once again, damaged an archeological site located in the Willits Bypass construction zone (either the Bypass route itself, or the Bypass “mitigation” land). The damage to the site occurred without tribal monitors present. Although six tribal monitors are involved in monitoring the construction to ensure that CalTrans does not desecrate cultural resources, only a CalTrans archeologist was present at the time this damage occurred.

The damage to the site was revealed in an e-mail from a CalTrans representative to representatives of the Sherwood Valley, Coyote Valley, and Round Valley tribes yesterday.

We expect more details regarding this newest archeological site desecration to be publicly revealed in the next 24 hours. This is big news. Stay tuned…

See the previous post for information on CalTrans’ previous desecration of an archeological site thought to be associated with the historic village of site.

This news comes as the American Indian Movement’s 500-mile spiritual marathon is set to arrive in town next Thursday, June 26th, at 12:30 p.m. It is the last stop on their annual run through California, visiting sacred and threatened places, as well as prisoners and allies.
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Join American Indian Movement 500-Mile Spirit Run In Willits – Thurs., June 26th!

SpiritRunNext Thursday, June 26, American Indian Movement spirit runners will run through Willits, in support of Indigenous people, sacred sites threatened and destroyed by CalTrans, and the effort to stop the Bypass in general.  The runners aim to begin the Willits leg of their journey at 12:30 p.m., following a morning stop in Elem Pomo traditional territory near Clearlake Oaks, Lake County.

The run through Willits is the final part of a spiritual run through much of California, with stops in numerous sacred, threatened, and damaged traditional places along the way. The public is invited to join the spirit runners in a show of mutual support, as their journey culminates in Willits!

The 500 Mile AIM Spirit Run web site provides this description:

“The California 500 Mile American Indian Spiritual Marathon running team, following the leadership and tradition of early Native American runners who were messengers, is a multicultural group of individuals dedicated to preserving the tradition of spiritual running. Our principal message is “All Life is Sacred”. We run and train together in different locations about once a month. In June, we run across California in our annual 500 Mile Spiritual Marathon.”

In April, the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians tribal council
unanimously passed a resolution calling on CalTrans to downsize the Willits Bypass northern interchange (the principal wetlands destruction swath in the project), stop soil excavation as part of CalTrans’ massive Bypass mitigation plan (which destroys sacred sites), and provide compensation for CalTrans’ destruction last year of the archeological site associated with the historic village of Yami.

Coyote Valley is one of three Mendocino County native nations whose members include recognized descendants of Little Lake Pomo people. The others are the Sherwood Valley Tribe, located in Willits, and the Round Valley Tribe in Covelo (members of which include numerous native nations from throughout northern California).

Last September, CalTrans revealed the desecration of a significant
archeological site located in the Willits Bypass destruction swath. The agency’s spokespeople claimed that the desecration occurred unintentionally and was due to a clerical error. The destruction of this sacred site was only one of many outrages that CalTrans has perpetrated against these Indigenous people in the course of planning and building the Willits Bypass.

We will post more details about the spirit run in the coming days.

Further reading:

* American Indian Movement Spirit Run History

* American Indian Movement Spirit Run: Who We Are

National Congress of American Indians Resolution Calling For Suspension of Willits Bypass Construction, Withdrawal of Funding

* Willits Weekly’s story on CalTrans archeological site destruction, by Jennifer Poole

* “CalTrans’ Desecration of Yami” by Will Parrish