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.

Bios//
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.

Cops raid protest camp in Capitol Forest, lone man in canopy continues to block logging

Cross-posted from the Chameleon Blockade

For Immediate Release: 

Contacts: Chameleon Blockade, (360) 209 6426, chameleonblockade@protonmail.com

Ian Frederick, (360) 474 2387

Nathan McKay, mckayresources@protonmail.com

Cops raid protest camp in Capitol Forest, lone man in canopy continues to block logging

Capitol State Forest, WA – Early Wednesday afternoon, a convoy of trucks from at least four different law enforcement agencies parked on a logging road for an unannounced raid on a camp of forest protection activists, sweeping the camp away and leaving one man in the forest canopy tied to a contraption that continues to impede work on the controversial “Chameleon” timber sale. The officers came from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol, the state Fish and Game Department, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency which planned and sold the timber sale and manages all of the Capitol State Forest. Law enforcement temporarily closed the roads to through traffic while they cleared the activists from the camp.

Alex Johnson, 29, a teacher from Olympia, was on the ground making coffee when the cops arrived. “There were just so many of them,” he said. “It seems like a lot of force to bring to deal with two unarmed civilians eating lunch.”

The two activists were briefly detained before being allowed to walk away while the officers attempted to negotiate with the remaining “tree-sitter” who continued to block the logging road. The DNR law enforcement eventually brought in spotlights and a generator and began to prepare for an extended siege of the tree-sit, which Mr. Johnson predicted would last a long time.

“I think these cops underestimate John’s commitment and endurance,” he said. “He thought hard about this before doing it, and he’s prepared to stay for quite a while. He’s one of the most stubborn guys I’ve ever met, and I tried to tell the cops that but I don’t think it’s sunk in for them yet.”

Johnson was referring to his friend in the canopy, John “Tree’Angelo” Barksdale. Mr. Barksdale, 34, an outdoor educator from Tumwater, has watched with dismay over the past several years as the DNR has systematically clear-cut most of its remaining old-growth stands. An avid hiker, he’s seen many of his favorite local trails turned to moonscapes.

“Unit 1 of Chameleon is some of the most intact forest, the best habitat left across one hundred thousand acres,” Barksdale said. “If we want all this to actually be a forest and not just an oversized tree plantation, we need to save at least something. We can’t clear-cut all of it.”

Barksdale has used years of climbing experience to erect a unique “dunk-tank” platform atop an old-growth douglas-fir tree, tied to an abandoned Ford Explorer parked across the proposed logging road. If the car moves, his platform drops. It’s about one hundred feet down to the steep slopes of the forest below. Barksdale claims to have plenty of food and water and says he is prepared to wait out the DNR indefinitely.

“I’ve always wanted to tree-sit,” he says. “I love trees. I love camping. I can work remotely out here and attend Zoom meetings from right here on the platform. It’s super dreamy up here, and I’m trying to save these trees. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”

The protest camp, which was started ten days ago by a few friends of Mr. Barksdale, quickly picked up support from local hunters, fishermen and ATV users concerned about the health of the forest. Protectors of the Salish Sea, an indigenous water advocacy group, held space with songs and prayers at the blockade on Saturday. Multiple community groups across Thurston County have come out in support of the blockade and are calling for the cancellation of the timber sale.

“Governor Inslee claims to be the ‘climate Governor’, and even ran for President of the United States on a platform based on tackling climate change, yet he continues to allow the Department of Natural Resources to clearcut our state’s forests despite their potential to mitigate the climate crisis,” said Nathan McKay, a landscape architect from Lacey, Washington. “If Inslee was really a climate leader, he would call off this timber sale, and protect our forests for their carbon sequestration and storage potential.”

A rally is planned for today, Thursday, October 8, at 3pm at the gate of the logging road leading into the timber sale. Community members are invited to witness the siege and see the ancient trees in the proposed clearcut.

Statement from the Yellow Finch tree-sit in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline

An “Earth Day” statement from the Yellow Finch tree sit blockade in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline— April 22, 2020 — by Biryani Cudweed

pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines

To our friends, true hearted allies, and especially our accomplices — we here at the tree sits hope life finds you and yours healthy, well, and joyous this springtide, in spite of these sometimes scary and tragic (46000+ lost to the virus in the so-called US! WTF) and sometimes hilariously weird (Missouri is set to sue China, apparently) times.

Gonna say it again: wash your damn hands, and mask up like it’s “The Great Train Robbery!”

Well, I’ll get to the point and the proverbial snag in the forest today folks: we here at the sits wish to tell you to have a very good, pleasant day.

“What the hell, no Earth Day greetings!? No chirpy, pithy jewels of woodsy wisdom!?” I can already hear the good readership folks murmur in surprise and confused, disappointed dismay as they put away their smartphones in disgust.

Nope.

One single measly day of giving the Earth the proper attention and respect, one day of concern (heck, even a well intentioned Friday school strike or tree planting campaign), one day of remembering our place within the vastly intricate ecosystems of the planet is simply a performative bandaid and neoliberal capitalist dog and pony show for social media clout and the easing of settler consciences, if one does not remember the continued theft and genocide committed by capitalist white supremacist settlers upon the Indigenous people here on Turtle Island, who have always been here as long as their stories have said and have been always and ever the caretakers of the land.

“Yeah, yeah, I know Miss Cudweed, but what am I supposed to do? My friends and I planted like a zillion trees today, and we know that the land is stolen and occupied and that banks fund and prop up the fossil fuel behemoths killing the planet! So what do you want us to do?!”

Aside from continued support, land reparations, and forming your own various blockades (however that looks for each situation), here are some ideas to consider!

COVID 19 disproportionately affects elders, folks with auto-immune deficiencies, Black and Indigenous communities, and detained migrants and prisoners. Mutual aid should not be thought of as mere buzzwords, and rent strike is not just a good band! These forms of resistance and direct action are absolutely critical right now! Check up on folks, make sure people who have community and resources to live well. Make sure out of school children are getting fed.

Protest the actual non-essential services: the prison and imperialist military industrial complexes which drain resources and pollute the Earth, robbing people of life and freedom, ICE detention centers which separate families and cage innocents whose only crime is to cross arbitrary lines set out by colonial robbers, and the bloated fossil fuel industry!

$1200? LOL. While the most at risk who yet have the privilege of being documented receive a pittance, Trump is promising the oil and gas industry yet another handout in the form of a bailout. And we the poor and marginalized are supposed to accept our charitable scraps gratefully, shut up, and thank the nice men in suits? Fuck that.

Now more than ever, let us stand firmly and bravely united in solidarity together — six feet apart, of course — and reevaluate and reject the capitalist and utterly untenable mindset that reduces both us and the planet we inhabit to a means of profit and power for the bankers and CEOs who control government policy and write the mainstream historical and cultural narrative.

Capitalism is the most dangerous and destructive pandemic we face.

Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en! Abolish ICE! Doom to the pipeline! Be well and blessed folks!

– Biryani Cudweed, “Worst Trans Girl Ever”
(And everyone at Yellow Finch)

LA Times: In the redwoods, logging and tree sitting continue, even as the pandemic shuts mills

cross-posted from Redwood Forest Defense

Outside Trinidad, Calif., in an area known as Strawberry Rock, Walter, a 22-year-old UCLA student, is taking part in a tree sit-in to prevent a logging company from cutting redwoods and other trees.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

In the redwoods, logging and tree sitting continue, even as the pandemic shuts mills

By Susanne Rust

April 16, 2020