Mendocino County Today: Monday, Feb. 20, 2017
by AVA News Service, February 19, 2017
STRONG PACIFIC STORM System Bringing Heavy Rain, Mountain Snow and Strong Wind to California. Heavy rain possible for portions of Northern/Central California and Pacific Northwest. Another upper-level trough will begin to move onshore over the West Coast on Monday afternoon into Tuesday. The influx of moisture will aid in producing rain along the West Coast with snow at higher elevations over California and the Pacific Northwest through Tuesday. Snow and lower elevation rain will also develop over parts of the Northern Intermountain Region and Northern Rockies through Tuesday.
- Monday: Rain; Highs 51 to 61. South wind around 20 mph.
- Monday Night: Rain showers and slight chance of thunderstorms. Breezy. Lows 41 to 51. South wind 20 to 25 mph.
- Tuesday: Rain showers likely and slight chance of thunderstorms. Highs 48 to 58.
- Tuesday Night: Cloudy. Chance of rain showers. Lows 35 to 45.
(National Weather Service.)
SUNDAY NIGHT’S RAIN BEGAN in downtoon Boonville with a massive lightning and thunderstrike that somehow didn’t take the power with it.
AS THE RAINS continue to fall, CalTrans and County road crews continue to do yeoman's work keeping the roads passable. Biggest slide yet occurred Friday morning on 253 about two miles up from Boonville when a slide covered the entire roadway. CalTrans had it clear in about an hour.
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN — the Anderson Valley Grange’s 26th annual Variety Show is, as always, the first weekend in March. This Friday the third, and Saturday March forth, I mean fourth, the Anderson Valley Grange for another two evenings of the most unique and irreverent acts found anywhere this side of the Navarro River. I wonder if our local talent might be one of the things that make life here in the valley so very special. Haven’t you all wondered what it is that makes this place so cool? Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children under 12. This year, a limited number of tickets will be sold for either Friday or Sat., to ensure that ticket holders get inside. They are available at the door, and also during the week before the show at Lemons’ Market in Philo and the Anderson Valley Market in Boonville. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the AV Grange.
by Rex Gressett
The Fort Bragg Public Safety meeting was a gruesome surprise. I thought it was going to be one thing, but like a bad dream it morphed into something quite the opposite of what I expected.
Public Safety meetings are generally pretty innocuous. In general the police know what to do. The members of the city council who sit on the committee typically nod in agreement and make occasional supportive affirmations. Public policy in regard to daily public safety is not a matter of extreme contention.
This meeting was billed anecdotally with some excitement as a reaction by the council to the bulldozing through of the ritual consecration of our very questionable and much reviled city system for the provision and care for the homeless — i.e., “hospitality.”
The public safety meeting was Wednesday. The previous Monday at the regular City Council meeting the Hospitality Cartel, our local grand system for homeless care and aid, had presented a heartwarming version of themselves with a fancy, computerized PowerPoint slide presentation. It was narrated by Lynelle Johnson, member of the board of long standing, who was there to tell the story of her charity and to illuminate the good work that it does to help the homeless.
We hope it does very good work because it is the only agency or program that there is in Fort Bragg that addresses desperate situations of housing and they get all the money. Lynelle recounted the organizational mythology, surgically separated from dirty facts. To hear her tell it, it was Snow White helping the dwarfs. One item she did not focus on was the profound hatred for and resentment against Hospitality House by the homeless themselves.
Hospitality House has grown over the years. As the only source of succor to the transient, the houseless, the dispossessed and the flat broke on the coast it has elbowed its way into the public purse and acquired impressive real estate assets.
Last year this charitable institution provoked virulent public indignation by their acquisition of a centrally located hotel. The main rub was the secret scheming by the city manager who gave them state money ($1 million) to acquire the property. Public scrutiny was carefully dodged until the deal was done. The result was an unprecedented public outcry which eventually sponsored and promoted a ballot measure aimed at the wildly improbable acquisition of a centrally located, historic and locally beloved hotel, as a coffee distribution point for those without coffee and an administrative center for their organization.
It is certainly not a shelter.
Hospitality House began in the long ago as a gesture of kindness and expression of grace by two elderly women affronted by the misery of transient poverty. The need was real and the city council of those bygone days was savvy. Bill Johnson (formerly Admiral Johnson) a crony of the local influential, foresaw with statesmanlike perspicuity that as homelessness became a national epidemic, tiny Fort Bragg being the central metropolitan area in a great green pot growing region, was likely to attract the homeless in numbers. Homelessness did in fact explode across America. Every city, town and village in America composed some form of civic policy to address these new waves of miserable roving houseless neohippies. Mr. Johnson’s clever insight was that any policy at all that addressed homelessness in general was likely to ruin us. We were small, and the problem was great.
Hospitality House was the perfect foil. A place of kindness and refuge (it was that originally) for a damn few people and devil take the rest. It was not any kind of solution to the issue itself, it was a dike against which the problem could break without any loss of composure on the part of the city. It was a great idea.
The present-day Hospitality Cartel, Hospitality House, Hospitality Center, etc., etc. operates on the same principle. They provide a fast track to opioid drugs for folks in general and 29 beds for a homeless population of thousands.
In future articles I hope to detail the extremity of unfairness, the manipulation by fear and the casual crushing of human dignity which is the standard protocol at Hospitality House. Lynelle Johnson told the Council with quiet pride and inner rejoicing that the inmates at HH do all the work. They clean and they polish, they make their own beds. What she did not quite get around to was the rule that any infraction at all in the performance of these “chores” — dust on the window, a missed plate, anything and everything — is grounds for immediate discharge. Women with babies, old men with pacemakers, thousands of tired and well-meaning folks have been bounced down the street because of some trivial and unintended lapse in doing their chores straight into the fearsome jungles where the great majority of homeless subsist. There is no recourse and no appeal. The workers at the house vary but some must be clinical sadists. If you get one of the 29 beds that are available in our whole region you will live in fear.
Monday night HH was wonderfully prepared. Joy and goodness radiated from the presentation.
A couple of weeks before in preparation Linda Ruffing had graciously walked the streets of our fair city and talked to about 17 business owners to see how the new hotel was working out. Her report was an obscenity of obfuscation and occasional humor.
Rumor had it that at the Wednesday Public Safety meeting the new council with their new voting majority were out to ask questions and take names. What happened was just plain weird.
The meeting should have been filmed by Fritz Lang. It should have been in black and white. It was resonant with inarticulate frustration and social bigotry. The merciless abuse of the homeless at Hospitality House was never an issue. According to the committee, the homeless themselves are the root of the problem.
The Chief of Police was asked by the Mayor with a kind of stern diffidence if the cops hassled the homeless sufficiently and if it were possible to hassle them a little more to show them that the city meant business. A list of offenses was considered as possible grist for hassling that reminded me of a medieval guild charter for the enforcement of morality among apprentices. No loitering, no smoking, no nothing. If you cannot loiter and smoke when you are homeless then you really are in trouble.
Some infractions were more imagined than real. There was a great deal made of the possibility that one of these crazies might take a shit. Indeed some were suspected of thinking about it. No one actually did it, that they could prove. However there were reports of people who looked like they might.
I recall from the election that Linda Ruffing in a rapture of enthusiasm for her own professional braveness in confronting this shitting thing head on. She sent emails to all the city council candidates describing a police action which preempted a suspect from even getting the chance to take a shit.
The chief tried, he really did. He explained to his employers that the troublesome concept of civil rights precluded some things. Lindy understood that of course, but he advocated creativity, make them show you the contents of their packs, he advised, that will get to them.
The Hospitality Cartel received not the least mention.
by Rex Gressett
Dusty Dillon wants a working harbor. Dusty runs a gentleman’s rowing club from a very cool building that he built at the end of the road to the ocean. It’s nice. He sits on the Harbor Commission so he has some influence. He has said that he wants a working harbor and he has said it with an understated passion that speaks of his firm intention. But he has no idea — none whatsoever — what that would remotely entail. Dusty’s working harbor thesis is a wish, a preference without any consideration for the practicality of realization.
Bullshit in other words.
He has a good spot for expounding his views because the Harbor Commission does exactly nothing. His working harbor fits right in. To be fair the Harbor Commission thinks that doing nothing or at least very little means that they are being effective. In a way it does mean that. They collect the cash from the city-owned marina. They pay to have the trash hauled off on Wednesdays. Oh, you did not know that the city of Fort Bragg owns the marina? The city council appoints the Harbor Commissioners.
I want a working harbor too, and I hope it is more than a wish. At least I have a basic principle. We are life, we live on life. If we let nature die, if we keep taking and taking and never giving back we as a society and possibly as a species are screwed.
I think that we can achieve a working harbor much along the lines that Dusty would like to see. A harbor filled with boats and jobs, action and production, money and prosperity.
In future articles, along with local politics, I am going to make the case that our coastal fishing zone does not have to die and could again be full of fish. I think that there is solid scientific evidence that can happen.
It is a project requiring determination, vision and public engagement. But first we must understand and accept a basic principle which is totally at odds with the basic principle under which the state Fish and Game department regulates the industry. Fish and Game seeks to strike a compromise between various interests. Compromise is what put us in the ditch.
The restoration of the ocean to full abundance is a massive undertaking but it is first of all an extravagant thought. The full abundance of our ocean is long gone. We are so far from it that it seems impossible. But it must be done. We must make it our work not just to work at restoration but specifically to restore it to full abundance not because we are lavish, but because we are constrained to facts. The complexity and interconnectedness of raw nature is the only way to have any of it. We unraveled the web of life. One species at a deliberate time. The unforgiving fact is that the web of life is a real thing and to exist at all it has to have every fiber, every member, every species. It exists only when it is complete. Full abundance is the first thing they destroyed, they quite reasonably expected that they would get away with it. One or two species, or even a dozen taken out of the picture did not seem catastrophic. In the end it was 80, now the kelp forest is gone and the ocean bottom is a desert.
Full ocean abundance seems like a dream but science and brave pioneers have shown us that it is very possible. As a fishing species we live in the natural world. Harvested fish are wild animals, not agricultural produce.
The kelp forests that we have lost were fabulously abundant. If they are restored and correctly managed these amazing forests could again produce extraordinary abundance, To achieve that objective a total ecosystem must exist. No species is independent of the web of life. Natural complexity is the requirement and basic operating principle for any serious program of ocean restoration.
I wish there was an easier way. I wish compromise and accommodation of entrenched privilege were possible. We could just focus on one tasty fish and forget the rest. Nature does not work that way — it just doesn’t. Fort Bragg is heir to the world’s most complex productive and intricate of marine ecologies. Now it is dead. Are you ok with that? Is the city of Fort Bragg city council?
Putting nature back together is a massive project of national and international consequence. It is demonstrably possible. Restoration could be a major industry in our harbor. If we are so fortunate as to ever have a kelp forest again and if we harvest it with care, it will make our harbor rich and prosperous. It is the only practical sustainable source for fish. It would give us a working harbor with a future. Just what Dusty wants.
There is a way. Keystone species, as formal biology calls them, are somewhat newly recognized by science as being species that once established, even by artificial means provide an immediate habitat for the natural development of diversity. Kelp is one such species, in fresh water so is eel grass.
The implications of keystone species means that large scale restoration operations conducted like agriculture, could be directed at the kelp beds and in the river eel grass. When these species thrive, eventually diversity does occur. Healing occurs. We really don’t know why. We have an outside chance. But we must do it now.
As the marine ecosystem becomes increasingly barren the capacity of nature is reduced in its ability to restore ancient relationships. The interspecies relationships, the dependencies and opportunities of eating each other, generate an almost unfathomable complexity. It all works together to gradually create an increasing biodiversity and then abundance. We must do this work before the systems become inert and unresponsive. This is CPR. It will not wait.
Nor is this a problem comfortably distant. When it was full of fish the ocean was a resource that effectively belonged to the people of Fort Bragg. An acute concern and ongoing dialogue is the least that we have the right to expect from our city government and you know what? I don’t doubt for a moment that we will find that they feel that way also. Issues of jurisdiction are real but in the web of state power city governments have a great deal of scope for creative adaptation to changing conditions. We have that.
The San Juan, the houseboat I lived on before she sank, was a statement of private resentment and a declaration of defiance to the way things were. I made it that way and kept the ship afloat long enough for that statement to become irony and failure. The ship is a fine thing in itself and a very nice place to live but as a symbol it was an eyesore and pointless. Now it is a metaphor for disaster. A symbol of collapsing chances. It can be saved, and so can the ocean, but in both cases there needs to be an attitude adjustment. Not the least my own. We need redefinition. We must have conversation and an opening up to the possibility. The loss exists. The reaction whether despair or courageous adaptation is a choice that has to be made.
SPOTTED on the bulletin board outside the Ukiah Co-op, a business card reading, "Placenta Encapsulation Service."
HEADLINE FROM SUNDAY'S PRESS DEMOCRAT:
“Would Jack London recognize today’s Valley of the Moon?”
I THINK we can safely answer this one with a giant NO, but the old socialist would be grateful for Gaye LeBaron remembering him.
HEADLINE over a story in this morning's Ukiah Daily Journal by the consistently estimable Justine Fredericksen: "Ukiah could support an upscale hotel downtown, consultant says."
A CONSULTANT says whatever you want him to say so long as your check doesn't bounce, and even this guy seems to have had some fun laying $25,000 worth of "advice" on the Ukiah City Council that probably took him about fifteen minutes to write. (Ukiah loves consultants. I wonder if it ever occurs to its cringing city council to move on its own authority? Criminey! You want a so-called upscale hotel on the Westside, say so and wait for some sap to come along and build one.)
THE CONSULTANT said that while Ukiah "was still at best a secondary market" — translation: If Santa Rosa's full, keep driving until you get to Ashland, adding that Ukiah "was neither a San Francisco, Oakland nor a Cupertino.”
CUPERTINO? I would happily have told the Ukiah City Council that Ukiah isn't San Francisco for a sandwich at Schat's. Throw in a dessert and I'd say Ukiah isn't Oakland or Cupertino either.
DEEPER in Ms. Fredericksen's wistful story, with its implication of an appropriate venue for Westside Ukiah people who yearn to escape the mummus and fat guys in wife beaters found east of the County Courthouse, we learn that upscale is defined as $170-a-night rooms.
WHAT UPSCALE really means in the Ukiah context is a quiet place to sleep away from 101 and away even from the possibility of tweakers in the room next door. Any room in Ukiah for less than a hundred bucks and you might as well ask Sheriff Allman if you can spend the night in the County Jail.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I know this is going to sound kinda weird, but you know what I miss? Chasing cars. Lost a lot of friends doing that, but it was a lot more exciting than being tied up in the yard all day and then watching crime shows at night in the house.”
POLICING MENDOCINO COUNTY
Deputy Orell Massey Looks Back
Interviewed by Mark Scaramella
AVA: I remember in the Air Force frequently black airmen facing any kind of discipline would prefer white officers to black officers because the race card didn't work very well with black officers. Do black suspects tend to play the race card during your encounters with them to get more favorable treatment?
Massey: There are always some people who try to play the race card. Race is such a big factor in so many things nowadays. You will sometimes come across a white officer or superior who goes out of his way to be fair with a black suspect so that it won't appear as if race is a factor. They might be more lenient. Maybe they don’t want the situation to explode or be in the news or be on the hot seat. So yes, sometimes a black suspect will prefer a white officer to a black officer. That can happen.
But it’s strange. In Mendocino County I’ve had black people accuse me of racism just like everybody else! [Laughs.]
The first time that happened I was shocked. This black guy called me a racist and I nearly passed out. I recall a young black man I worked with for several years, first when I was a probation officer and then as a deputy. I encouraged him to follow the right track. I can certainly relate to the problems this kid had. The hardships. Because I have experienced many of those things myself. You certainly have empathy. But you cannot let that blind you to enforcement of the law. You have to enforce the law and take a person to jail if necessary. Because that's what you're sworn to do, I would never consider whether a person was black or not in my enforcement duties, I'm a professional and I try to be as fair as possible.
There was an incident out at the north boat ramp at Lake Mendocino — one of several by the way. I pulled up to some people who were arguing loudly in the campground. This black guy walked out and he said, ‘I've heard about you. You’re trying to arrest all black people in Mendocino County!’ I said, ‘There are only two of us here! You and me!’ I looked at him amazed, where did he get that impression? I only see two or three black people a year on duty. I can't even remember the last time I arrested a black person. But that's what he said. There are actually some black people in this County who believe I'm trying to lock up all the black people!
When I run into the Hispanics, they think I'm racist because I'm trying to lock up all the Hispanics. And when I run into the occasional Indian, they say I'm just trying to do the white man's job! Me? Doing the white man's job. They say I'm like an apple, red on the outside and white on the inside. They’ve got their colors a little mixed up. And some white people say, You're not really a cop — you are just trying to get back at the white people. So I guess I have a problem with all of them.
I think it was Barry Vogel who asked me what can be done to reduce the racism I’ve experienced. I told him, Two ways: either hire more black deputies or don’t hire any at all. [Laughs.] And under the circumstances, I’m probably the last of the mohicans running around out there. So I doubt if you’re going to see another black officer on patrol out there any time in the near future.
AVA: You’ve put up with it for years. It’s amazing. You should get credit for it — except that it shouldn’t be happening in the first place.
Massey: The Sheriff has told me a few times that there’s an African American who has applied for the department and the Sheriff wanted me to take them on a ride-along and answer any questions they might have about what it’s like to work in Mendocino County. But I never saw anyone. They never showed up. No persons of color on ride-alongs. I don’t know what happened. And no black officers have been hired in the almost 20 years I’ve been with the department.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 19, 2017
Battersby, Bolton, Couthren
JUSTINE BATTERSBY, Albion. Domestic battery, criminal threats.
JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Battery, witness intimidation, drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
ZEBULON COUTHREN, Willits. Dirk-dagger, protective order violation, probation revocation.
Elliott, Garcia-Escamilla, Keys
ALICIA ELLIOTT, Covelo. Protective order violation.
VENTURA GARCIA-ESCAMILLA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
RONALD KEYS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
Mothershed, Nicks, Omler
DOC MOTHERSHED, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
DAVID NICKS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.
TERRY OMLER, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, vandalism.
Partridge, Servantes, Tlaxcanticla-Martinez
DONOVAN PARTRIDGE, Ukiah. DUI.
MANUELITO SERVANTES, Ukiah. DUI.
LEAH TLAXCANTICLA-MARTINEZ, Fort Bragg. Burglary, probation revocation.
GOODTIME JESUS — Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dreaming so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it? A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled back, skin falling off. But he wasn't afraid of that. It was a beautiful day. How 'bout some coffee? Don't mind if I do. Take a little ride on my donkey, I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.
— James Tate
THE DEMOCRATS, still dressed in their funeral clothes, have seized on the Russia stories as a life raft in the maelstrom. When the Democrats speak of Flynn, they say largely the same thing: he was a great guy, a helluva soldier back when he was committing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan with good old Stan McChrystal. He only went over the edge when he began to pursue detente with Russia. They have assiduously fanned the contagious fantasy that Russian meddling somehow tilted the election to Trump, besmirching the integrity of American democracy. Yet these new revelations, of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials, hardly qualify as startling. In fact, most of the stories breathlessly pushed above the fold in the Washington Post and New York Times merely recycle in more assertive prose vaguely sketched stories of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia from the fall, stories which are infused with graver tones in the wake of Flynn’s humiliation.
— Jeffrey St. Clair
CALIFORNIA IS A NATION, NOT A STATE. A fringe movement wants a break from the U.S. Using Trump’s victory as momentum, the group wants the Golden State’s voters to decide on secession. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/california-is-a-nation-not-a-state-a-fringe-movement-wants-a-break-from-the-us/2017/02/18/ed85671c-f567-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html
AMERICA IS 5150 (Refined version)
Where is the place for art in a society of stupid slobs who’ve had their sensibilities deformed by the mass media of the Totalitarian Corporate State?
In a society beat down by Mediocrity and Ugliness, where is a social space for Beauty, Quality, and Peace?
America has perfected Anti-Art in every aspect of society, an artless society is a very sick society.
America failed me with its;
its crap food
its mean greedy destructive health care system
its unsafe fat road hog gas hog cars
its planned obsolescence
its Disney/Hollywood propaganda
its over rated over paid celebrity cults
its belligerent cultural supremacy
its barbaric domestic policies
its imperial foreign policies
its endless military madness
its vulgar uncivil â€œcultureâ€
America has failed itself and the world
America is a failed state that leads the world in the race towards
American Imperialism has destabilized the entire world and in the process created conditions where Terrorism Thrives
America is #1 in its death wish for Earth and all Earthlingsâ€¦ "who
needs to get all worked up about the here and now when Heaven awaits!"
America is a rude wellborn entitlement brat Narcissist bully
America makes the Mafia look like a boys choir
America would rather Blow up the whole sand box than Share or Play Fair
America is every Overbearing Wealthy Jerk you’ve ever met
America is a Heavily Armed, Intoxicated Ego Maniac
You wouldn’t want America moving in next door, wouldn’t want your
Daughters dating his sons!
America is an open air free range Insane Asylum
America is too ARROGANT to HEAR or SEE or LEARN
America is developmentally retarded
America is too busy WASTING RESOURCES to notice it’s DYING
THE MAN WHO LOVES BOOKS TOO MUCH
by Allison Hoover Bartlett, San Francisco Magazine
On the motivations and techniques of a prolific book thief who “built a vast collection of rare works, most of which he will never read and no one will ever see.”
LOOK IT OVER
I leave behind even
my walking stick. My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot. I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book. I go
into the woods. I sit on
a log provided at no cost.
It is the earth I’ve come to,
the earth itself, sadly
abused by the stupidity
only humans are capable of
but, as ever, itself. Free.
A bargain! Get it while it lasts.
— Wendell Berry from [Leavings]
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
We here at NSA in Ft. Meade gather information only and distribute it to other agencies if it is deemed of interest and actionable. This is not recent. Total Information Awareness was achieved in 2001. Every keystroke. Every phone call. Every text message. The other agencies are not so passive. Over in Langley, the lads have asserted the right to kill anyone, US citizen or foreigner…. any time…. any place….. for any reason they see fit with effectively no oversight. And yes, any employee of the FBI or IRS or a dozen other agencies can feed your name anonymously into a computer….. for any reason or even no reason at all…… and your existence will be turned into a Kafkaesque nightmare. You went through a messy divorce and your vindictive ex sister-in-law works for the IRS…. you could soon have a problem. Welcome to the full flowering of the National Security State. This is what Full Spectrum Dominance and Total Information Awareness looks like.
DID "INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY" TAKE OUT FLYNN?
Join John Sakowicz and Sid Cooperrider with guest Gareth Porter on KMEC Radio on Monday, February 20, at 1 pm, Pacific Time.
Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. His most recent piece is "Ignore the tough talk - Trump's Iran policy will be much like Obama's."
He said: "Flynn is a figure with a dark side, but hype regarding an 'illegal' meeting with Russian ambassador never made sense. I'm glad he's gone, but the leaks hinting Logan Act treason should be recognized as 'intelligence community' political manipulation. The Logan Act is a dead letter and even if it were not, the facts of this case don't support its application. If it would apply to anything recent, the Logan Act would apply to the letter organized by Tom Cotton regarding Iran in 2015, but hawk Cotton never paid any price."
Glenn Greenwald tweeted: "In January, Chuck Schumer warned Trump not to criticize the intelligence community because of all the ways they have to destroy people." See video in The Hill: "Schumer: Trump 'really dumb' for attacking intelligence agencies," said Schumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."
KMEC Radio: We broadcast at 105.1 FM in Ukiah, CA, from the offices of the Mendocino Environmental Center. We also stream live from the web at www.kmecradio.org
‘California Through Native Eyes’ emphasizes continuity in time. Talk, reception.
by Roberta Werdinger
On Saturday, February 25th, at 2 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will host a talk by historian Dr. William J. Bauer, Jr., a member of the Wailacki and Concow tribes of the Round Valley Indian Reservation, based on his recently released book, "California Through Native Eyes: Reclaiming History." A book signing and reception will follow. The event is free with Museum admission.
The genesis of this book in itself tells a story, one of an ancestral encounter. Dr. Bauer, a history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was conducting some research when the name of his great-grandfather, Charles Wright, appeared in the document he was reading. Wright was telling an amazing story from the Concow people (originating in the Chico area, later relocated to Round Valley) that interwove the doings of Jesus with that of mythical beings of his own tribe. The year was 1935, and Wright, an old man at the time, was relating his memories to a younger Native interviewer hired by the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber. Kroeber himself had been hired by the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a public program initiated by Franklin Roosevelt that was part of his Depression-era programs to restimulate the U.S. economy and culture. The stories in this book are based on sources from Concow, Paiute, and Pomo peoples from those narratives.
Bauer was so interested that he set out to study the documents from which his great-grandfather's name first originated. The result, after five years of studying thousands of pages of the original transcripts, is this book--unique in that it tells the history of California using entirely Native sources. As such, it focuses on their resilience, telling stories centered on their own way of experiencing the world in order to create a viable future.
One notable difference in this experience is centered on the sense of time. California Native stories don't begin with the discovery by Columbus and other Settlers (as they are called in this book) of the "New World," and then centrally focus on the mass settlement of the West during the Gold Rush, and its aftermath. Instead, stories stretch back to the time of creation. Stories are used to teach the next generation; thus what stories are told and what in them is emphasized may change according to context. Stories are likely to center on place; as Bauer puts it, "It matters more where the story took place than when." For example, the Concow name for Lassen Peak is West Mountain, because it lay on the western edge of the territory where the sun set. This method of re-visioning--literally, re-seeing--stories, Bauer states, "asks us to change our relationship to how we think about certain people and landscapes."
In addition to giving us a sense of the rich panoply of stories, Bauer's book covers Native prophecies, which includes predictions of the advent of Europeans; their own version of this advent, and the wars and resettlements that followed; and an account of the struggle to employ their own healing practices when confronted with the health crises of the times, which included tuberculosis.
When asked what he learned most from writing this book, Bauer replied, "What really struck me is how many oral traditions were remembered in the late 30s. There is a belief that oral history disappeared in the 19th century, but I was impressed by the sheer magnitude and quantity of them." This has led Bauer to believe that Native cultures are not disappearing: "They are still active, still vital today." "California Through Native Eyes" is eloquent testimony to this continuity.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.