Following is a terrific video by Maria Gilardin, summarizing much of what has led up to the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and Round Valley Indian Tribes lawsuit against CalTrans.
Fred Short, Spiritual Leader with the American Indian Movement, takes part in a ceremony held on a former village site located on Willits Bypass Project Mitigation Lands, July 2015. Photo by Steve Eberhard – The Willits News.
From: Save Our Little Lake Valley (SOLLV)
In solidarity with the United Pomo Nations Council
September 29th, 2016
We are writing to share an opportunity to build alliances with Native communities. We are asking you to write in support of our efforts to protect the numerous ancestral village and cultural sites that both Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) failed to adequately, survey, identify and protect.
Click on this link to access a form letter that you can modify and send through email or postal service to state and federal agencies.
As you may be aware, the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the Round Valley Indian Tribes are suing Caltrans and FHWA for their failure to engage in good faith, open and transparent consultations with the Tribes and due to both agencies’ failure to ensure that adequate surveys were conducted for the over 32 sites discovered, largely by bulldozer, in the project area and mitigation lands of the Caltrans Willits Bypass project. Caltrans recklessly destroyed an ancient village site and continued to fail to adequately protect discovered sites throughout the construction of the Willits Bypass.
Just recently, the Justice Department, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Interior responded to the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota, and have called for nationwide government-to-government consultation with Indian Tribes regarding how current policies and regulations fail to afford adequate protection for Native American cultural resources negatively impacted by infrastructure development projects. The desecration caused during the construction of the Willits Bypass Project is an example of how state and federal agencies failed to properly consult with local tribes regarding their ancestral lands.
Formal letter request from Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians: request-for-support-letters
Letter to FHWA from Coyote Valley: fhwa-letter-final-signed
The Coyote Valley, Round Valley and, indeed Sherwood Valley Indian Tribes, are all thoroughly disgusted with Caltrans’ treatment of both them and their cultural heritage. Coyote Valley and Round Valley have gone so far as to file a suit in federal court. It is unconscionable that the agencies tasked with historic preservation would sign an agreement that the local tribes vehemently oppose.
There are two documents (The PA and the PRDMP) currently before the agencies (The State: SHPO and the Federal: ACHP) tasked with Historic Preservation.
We are in the midst of revamping this web site to provide more background information regarding the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and Round Valley Indian Tribes lawsuit against Cal Trans. In the meantime, here is a copy of a recent letter from the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians — the other tribe with legally-recognized lineal descendants in the area of CalTrans’ Willits Bypass construction — rejecting CalTrans’ proposed framework for dealing with tribal cultural sites and artifacts.
The letter reads, in part: “In brief, SVBP [Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians] does not believe the PA package provides a legally-compliant, professionally responsible, or culturally-appropriate process for identifying, assessing, and/or resolving adverse effects to historic properties that may be discovered or inadvertently affected during the implementation of the WBP [Willits Bypass Project]. Moreover, SVBP’s Tribal Council takes issue with Caltrans’ new characterization of the consultation efforts that have occurred for the WBP.”
In a major development in local Indigenous people’s efforts to secure justice in CalTrans’ treatment of their cultural resources in Little Lake Valley, the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians have rejected CalTrans’ “programmatic agreement,” a document which is supposed to establish mutually-approved procedures for cultural resource management between Caltrans and the consulting tribes.
The Willits News features a very good story this week about this subject. It reads:
“A multi-year negotiation between local tribes and Caltrans officials concerning the identification and management of cultural resource sites located on the Willits bypass project and its mitigation area has reached another impasse, as one local tribe announced its refusal to sign an agreement over how such sites will be handled.
In a Sept. 2 letter from the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Chairman Michael Hunter details various reasons the tribe withdrew from discussions regarding the “programmatic agreement,” (PA) a document which is supposed to establish mutually-approved procedures for cultural resource management between Caltrans and the consulting tribes.
Reasons listed include issues with adequate tribal consultation, disagreement over standards to identify and protect sites, conflict over proposed mitigation measures to manage and compensate for the multiple site damages that has already occurred, and a general lack of adequate communication and good faith in consultations.
The letter states: “We firmly believe that it would be an insult to both our heritage and our integrity to sign off on the proposed Programmatic Agreement and Post Review and Discovery Action Plan. These documents do not provide a genuine means for protecting our ancestral sites in the future, let alone compensate us for destruction and desecration we have experienced. For the past two years our Tribe has attempted to engage in genuine government to government. Click here to read more. >>
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.