Jan. 23, 2023
Community Rallies to Protect Sacred Sites and Highlight Hypocrisy in Jackson State Forest’s Historic Preservation
Caspar, Mendocino Co., CA-On January 20th members of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the Manchester Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians, the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest, and Forest Protectors gathered near “Camp 20” in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) in Mendocino County to demand protection of Pomo Sacred Sites in the forest. The rally took place at the “Little Red Schoolhouse” in the state forest.
The January 20th date of the event was chosen as a show of solidarity with the continental “Day of Action in honor of Joye Braun,” of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Nation. She is described by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN): “She was a Mother, Grandmother, and Fierce Water Protector loved by all who stood with her… As a founder of the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, hers was the first lodge to go up and one of the last to come down. Joye was one of the leaders [at the Standing Rock campaign] who maintained the grounding tenets of peace and prayer in the months that followed the establishment of this historic and pivotal moment in Indigenous history.”
CalFire forest managers have brought attention to the schoolhouse and highlighted it in their October 2022 newsletter, where they wrote: “JDSF is rich with history and the restoration of the Little Red Schoolhouse is a great opportunity to learn more about the area’s past…Since the building is considered a historical building, the restoration had to be as close to the original as possible. This schoolhouse was in operation between 1915-1955 and made in three segments so that it could be transported, via railroad, further inland as timber camps moved inland.”
Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians said: “When I saw their newsletter with this school in it, I thought—history? What about our history and our sites? I heard this school was built here and destroyed a Sacred Site. What happened to the artifacts? Their logging plans will destroy our cultural sites if we don’t stand up, that’s what they have been doing for so long and it must stop.”
Andy Wellspring, a member of the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest, said: “This is hypocrisy, and racism. We are here today to demand, again, that the State of California treat Tribal cultural sites with the utmost respect. These sites have been significant to Pomo and Coast Yuki people for thousands of years, way longer than this schoolhouse. Tribal people should be allowed to steward their sites and restore them however they see fit, and should not have to fight for years to end plans that would put logging roads through them.”
According to the 1999 Betts Commission Report carried out for the State of California, CalFire has already authorized too much destruction of Tribal sites in JDSF over previous decades. The Report declared that all timber harvest operations should be halted until a comprehensive review of cultural sites was completed, but the findings have been ignored, and CalFire and the California Board of Forestry have continued to write and approve logging plans, despite Tribal and community opposition.