Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bulldozing Native history

Another day, another demonstration in San Francisco to deter official malfeasance. After watching Caltrans bungle construction of the new "signature" Bay Bridge for 25 years, it is not hard to believe that they've bungled again and run afoul of their own rules for protection of historic Native sites while constructing a highway bypass near Willits in Northern California. Pomo Indians are coming to town to protest.

This ABC news report is remarkably clear on what is taking place.
Local tribes say seven Indian villages once dotted the Little Lake Valley all over the area being torn up by construction along the six mile freeway route. Then in the mid-1800's European settlers changed everything. Hunter says, "They brought the army in and took our land and killed our people."

The native people who survived were forced out, but the ground around Willits is full of things they left behind -- 5,000 years of history protected by federal law. Now Indian artifacts are turning up all over the construction site and on Caltrans property that's being dug up to comply with environmental requirements.

... The local tribes say Caltrans is playing catch up with sacred history because the staff did not do an adequate job finding or protecting Native American sites before construction started last year. Fitzgerral said Caltrans "hired all these experts and they failed."
If they can build a bridge whose fundamental construction flaws are still coming to light now that it is open, it is no great surprise that they don't follow the rules about preservation of tribal history.


Hattie said...

What a pity. So much that is destroyed can never be restored.

Phil said...

There was only one documented cultural resource within the bypass construction area, and it was protected from construction. Caltrans consulted with the local tribe, Sherwood Valley Rancheria, and they were not aware of any other cultural resources. If the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo have knowledge of other areas, then they have not shared them with Caltrans.

Phil Frisbie, Jr.
Caltrans 707-441-4678