PODCAST: Defending Mendocino’s Sacred Sites

cross-posted from the Green and Red Podcast

In the 1850s, the “Mendocino War” was a bloody conflict between the Yuki tribe and white settlers in Northern California. White settlers raided and stole Yuki lands and massacring hundreds of Yuki in the process. The Yuki fled to “The Mountain” in what is now known as the Jackson Demonstration State Forest to escape the violence. Those villages in the forest are now sacred sites to the Coastal Yuki and Northern Pomo tribes.

The state of California is allowing logging companies to log the 50,000 acre Jackson Forest for profit to finance CalFire’s operations fighting wildfires. Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s direction for California state agencies to co-manage state lands with local Native American tribes and seek opportunities to return State lands to Native American tribes, the Dept. of Natural Resources has only designated 75 acres as “sacred sites.”

Flying solo, Scott talks with Pricilla Hunter, Polly Girvin and Andy Wellspring with the Coalition to Save Jackson Forest about the ongoing campaign to save the Jackson Forest and the sacred sites within it. The campaign has seen backcountry blockades and tree-sit action as well as rallies and marches in Mendocino County and Sacramento.

Priscilla Hunter is a Tribal Elder of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, former Chairwoman of the Tribe, and currently the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. Priscilla is working to protect the Sacred Sites of her Northern Pomo and Coast Yuki peoples that are threatened by logging, road building and pesticide operations in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest, which is located in her homelands, also called Mendocino County. Priscilla also founded the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council and has served as its Chairwoman for over 30 years, the Intertribal Council has secured the return of over 5,000 acres of redwood forest to Tribal people and is stewarding the land according to traditional knowledge.

Polly Girvin is a movement elder, Chicana activist, and civil rights and Federal Indian Law attorney graduated from the University of California Berkeley and Columbia University School of Law. Polly has worked with the Assembly of First Nations of Canada, and in the US helped establish the government to government consultation process with Tribes at the Federal level, including repatriation efforts for the return of ancestral human remains and sacred objects from museums and universities throughout the US. She has also been on the front lines of forest protection in Northern California for over 30 years.

Andy Wellspring is a member of Showing Up for Racial Justice, the Mendo Coast chapter. SURJ is white folks committed to racial justice nationally, and SURJ Mendo Coast is a member of the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest and supporting the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians in this struggle to protect sacred sites and end commercial logging on Pomo Homelands. Andy has worked as a community organizer in grassroots struggles, in solidarity with Indigenous people, for over a decade.

The Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest is supporting the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians as they negotiate equal co-management of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) in their Pomo homelands.

** If you want to get involved with the Save Jackson Forest campaign: email: surjmendocoast@gmail.com.

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