Editor’s note: This comment from Judith Lowry — echoed here previously when it comes to reporting on the Nisenan’s rightful heritage here — reminds me of the value of social media in breaking up the bottleneck of communications in a small town such as ours.
The expansion of the Tribute Trail will include a Nisenan Tribune Bridge, as reported here this week. SacBee.com passed on the information too, thanks to its effort to embrace social media (including this blog).
What’s laughable is in our own backyard, local “sources” and the local media remain silent, waiting for an official press release. So a lot of people are being kept in the dark, except the principals, of course, who know about it.
This is a classic example of our provincial, “cul-de-sac” mindset clashing with the real world. “If it wasn’t in The Union, it didn’t happen.”
When it comes to social media, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. As a consumer of information, I like that. It helps democratize a small town. Around here, it is badly needed.
Thanks for that bit of muckraking, you are correct, the Nisenan were originally excluded from the TT project. It took some educating and activism on the part of CHIRP (that’s me) and the NCR to assert their rightful heritage in Nevada County.
There was quite a bandwagon, loaded with local business people, non-profits and governmental agencies, heading for the cliff, until the Nevada County Historical Society took a closer look at the two tribal groups and concluded, by a preponderance of evidence that the Nisenan are the true heirs to these lands.
They issued a well researched report which apparently the Nevada County Board of Supervisors have not read or understood. That means our BOS is most likely in violation of Federal statutes with regard to tribal matters in their county, because they are allowing their endorsement of the Taylorsville Rancheria to stand, rather than admit their mistake.
Why did so many go in the wrong direction for so long? Ignorance and lack of historical education in Nevada County for one. Another reason may be that my opinion piece, “Let Us Not Forget the Nisenan”, recently published by the Union’s new editor Brian Hamilton, was written over three years ago, but never saw the light of day. The previous editor refused to print it, nor would he give me a reason why.
I tried to bring news of the Nisenan years ago to KMVR, where I had been a frequent guest on “Dreamwalk”. On that show, which defines itself as the last word in tribal matters in these parts, I was denied a microphone and told to leave the station. I appealed to the management of KVMR and was summarily dismissed, I tried to contact the KVMR board and was intercepted my KVMR management and told I could not see them.
Tell me, without the support of the local government and media, what were the Nisenan to do to get the word out?
Understand that once the Tsi-Akim PR got rolling it became a juggernaut and darned near impossible to reverse. I saw the Nisenan being overrun and decided to help them. Since that time I have been treated to an unvarnished view of Nevada County’s socio-political underbelly, not pretty. Too many folks who leapt before they looked, and are now hip deep in a sticky situation and would like the truth to go away, but it won’t.
All that said, I am a proponent of what I like to call, “No Indian Left Behind”. The Tsi Akim got a raw deal, like many tribes across the nation. I get it because my people are from Greenville and Susanville, our tribe’s Summer and Winter homes.
Greenville isn’t being recognized today because it was never a rancheria (nice word for reservation), it was an Indian boarding school and although it has a substantial population of Indian people, it doesn’t qualify for Federal trust. Nor does the Tsi Akim from what I have read. Their Taylorsville Rancheria was understandably abandoned during the great depression of the 1930′s.
When the Government went around shutting down rancherias in the 1960′s, as they did here in Nevada County with the NCR, they never went looking for any of the Taylorsville Indians. That’s not due diligence, and it isn’t fair to the Genesee Valley Indians, which is how I know the “Tsi Akim”, a name they adopted about 12 years ago when they incorporated.
It is a valid name and the Tsi Akim have a valid complaint against the Federal Government. But they ought to understand that trying to claim the lands of a tiny Southern tribe that just happens to be situated in an area of greater “cash flow”, is not right. How can the leadership of the Tsi Akim demand apologies and land bases from a county that rightfully belongs to another tribe? Perhaps we have learned too much from our conquerers.
Think about the last decade and all the folks who have partnered with the Plumas County tribe while ignoring the Nisenan. Lots of lost opportunity there. And what happens should the Great White Father eventually smile upon the Nevada City Rancheria?
It’s a long shot, but it’s rightfully their shot to take. If that happens they will go from being the “wallflower”, to being the “Belle of the ball”. Or maybe “Little Red Hen” might be a better analogy for the NCR, everyone is going to want a slice of their bread.
If I could, I would tell the Tsi Akim and their supporters to begin again. Taylorsville and Greenville happen to be situated in gloriously unspoiled high mountain valleys.
There is plenty of opportunity up there to create something prosperous that the tribe can be proud of. Mrs. Martin, a major supporter of the Tsi Akim told me herself that she is now working with them in Taylorsville, and that’s good.
But understand that if they attempt to do anything or build anything ugly up there, just to rake in money and power, without regard to the other tribes in their area, they will have another fight on their hands.
(Photo: Ben Furtado)
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