by Eric Enriquez, May 27, 2011
Many years ago, my great-grandparents, Arthur and Elsie Allen, were given a lot on old Coyote Valley. They cleared it and planted grapes. The pace at which the land was cleared upset the local agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It seems unlikely that they ever planned to make a life on the parcel. These enterprising Indians sought to better the future for their family through hard work and common sense. Elsie was a Pomo from Sonoma County whose father was from the Cloverdale/Yorkville area. Arthur was a Ukiah Indian.
I type these things with some reluctance. To characterize my lineage is to offer ammunition to those who would alienate and abandon ties with my family. The government of Coyote Valley followed in the sinister footprints of Pinoleville's by disenrolling large numbers of my family. Rather than honoring the very real connections among Indian families, all surviving the same trends of colonization, these governments seek to disunite, polarize and destroy the relationships. Instead of seeking ways to highlight the ways in which we belong, these wicked enrollment officers seize any incident or accident that can be leveraged to cause pain.
It wasn't always like this. Even in my life, things have been handled differently.
When I was a boy, I learned that the Round Valley Indian Housing Authority was planning to develop low-income HUD housing on the new Coyote Valley. My understanding is that the tribe needed us to formally enroll in order to create an adequate head-count for the proposed project. We did enroll. We were accepted. It seemed there was no issue at that time.
Over the next several years, we watched the development process with great anticipation. My grandparents all lived on Pinoleville and we lived in Talmage and the City of Ukiah. When I was a student at Ukiah High, the houses were completed and we moved to Coyote Valley. We were thrilled to live in a new home. We were happy to have more family than ever living so close by. There was a tribal office/community center built with block grants. I got a California Indian Manpower Consortium summer job through the Job Partnership Training Act right down the hill at the tribal offices. We appreciated so much of what we experienced.
But it wasn't a good fit. We began to realize that the price to be paid for living on a Rez was too great for the sake of the house. I wasn't able to have visitors without their cars being vandalized. There was always a party going on in one of the houses and the temptation to get off track was too serious to risk. While we are quick to point out that we are far from perfect, the level of sickness was too much to bear.
We moved out of our still-new house and back to Pinoleville. We rescinded our tribal membership at Coyote Valley and signed on at the Pinoleville Indian Community.
Coyote Valley eventually erected the Shodakai Casino as well as a gymnasium that has been a good thing for the community. I worked for a short time at Shodakai, although there never was a chance of me surviving the 90-day probation.
Many of my family members stayed on at CV. Several have served on the Council. For most of them, Coyote Valley is their home tribe. They are a good fit, culturally speaking. They have bonded, growing up as neighbors and strengthened the community bonds as much as is possible.
This is why it was so sad when CV eliminated them from the membership rolls. I understand why CV would never take me back. I am a bigmouth and somewhat of an ingrate at times. These others of my family, though, never put on airs. They didn’t move on in search of something different. They truly became Coyote Valley Pomo. To have evicted them from their homes, fired them from their jobs and relegated them to non-Indian legal status is an unforgivable crime. It was from this cold sickness that my Mother fled with us.
We were once told that an old Indian woman was expected for an engagement at Coyote Valley. When the car that she was in pulled off of 101, she made the driver stop. She refused to proceed, indicating that she saw only hellfire when she looked at the land there. Anybody familiar with local goings-on knows of the alarming rate of meth abuse, molest, cruelty to animals and other such treachery that occurs on CV. Something has to be done for the sake of the children. If not for the children, then perhaps for the sake of the dogs. Think twice before locating a casino next to your home. That's a gamble with very crappy odds.