The Union reports Nevada City Classic winner — with a typo

Memo to Mr. Rogers and The Union staff: The headline should read the “event’s storied past” (with an apostrophe).Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 6.41.40 AM

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

13 thoughts on “The Union reports Nevada City Classic winner — with a typo”

  1. Jeff,

    Have you met the current publisher yet?
    On the face of it, he seems different from any of the former men who have occupied that position.
    But, after meeting them, polite as they were, and seeing as how they never understood or seemed to care about the important story of the Nisenan or how critical it is for us to protect our county’s tiny tribe, I fear they are all Swift corporate types, remote, detached, focused on financial bottom lines, beholden to obsolete, invested modes of thinking and cleaving to status quo in spite of the enormous and rapid changes rolling like tidal waves over our region and indeed the entire world.
    I don’t see how connecting with this gentleman would help with my particular and absolutely unbidden crusade.
    Sometimes ugly things just fall in our complacent little laps.
    I was so spoiled when I arrived here 20 years ago to enjoy Nevada City, intending only to sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam (my paintings) and dine upon (organic) strawberries, sugar and cream.
    But then I met the Nisenan and all of that changed.
    As far as I am concerned, all of those in a power position but who did not help the survivors of California’s worst holocaust, may hold their manhood cheap (WillIe the Shake) that they were not with “us”, an educated few who got it right and formed up to protect our tribe from a misguided and opportunistic corporation on a raid in our lands.
    The Union has made it a policy not to cover this sad story because it would produce a lot of red faces in the county, and they wouldn’t all be Indian.
    Incredibly, even the venerated Yubanet, apparent journalistic gold standard in these parts, fell biased, clueless and flailing into the void.
    What hope is left?
    Well perhaps, social media and bloggers.
    Basically, We the People.

    However, if I did chance upon meeting this new fellow standing now at the helm of the Union, I would beg of him this; “Avoid the allure of wasting our time by becoming a local party-boy celebrity”, that’s not your job.”
    Don’t chase the mirrorball, play giddy fundraiser MC, or seek opportunities at events in order to post fun frivolous posts and photos on your face book.
    Be a journalist in the finest sense of the profession and the tradition go after the deeper stories, the uncomfortable ones.
    Go cut wood or spend time on a local farm (or is that just a costume?), listen and really find out what happens in these parts for the less privileged influential folk.
    Then talk to the people of the Nevada City Rancheria, the most marginalized and forgotten demographic in our county, (Google, William Kelly)
    Listen to them and learn from them.
    We have an important thing to put to rest here, without apology, but with the knowledge that the challenge of being the Nevada County generation that sets the Nisenan problem right after more than “100 Years of Dishonor” (Harriet Beecher Stowe) , we are also immensely privileged to be the “lucky few” (Willie again) who got it right and did something about it.

    Anybody out there?

    1. Judith- Can you please explain what it is exactly that you want Nevada County to do? Money? Land? Statue? Or is it some kind of recognition you haven’t gotten? After reading this above I am not sure what you want. If you can- Number it as to it’s importance to your cause.

  2. Judith- Why don’t you submit a piece about the history of the Nisenan, including explaining the innuendo of a territorial “raid” by the Greenville Group, to The Union? Most of us in the community have only heard bits and pieces of the conflict and it is quite established that neither tribe is open to educating us. I’ve brought up questions to Shelly as well as Don and get mumbled responses about lawsuits, defamation of character claims, and oblique answers to my direct and honest questions. If the tribes are unwilling to talk openly with the local white community (I’ve been here for forty years and still get largely propaganda instead of the straight scoop) how can you expect some four month resident freshly minted from Colorado to understand . . . or even give a hoot?

    1. What question was I asked that I mumbled response to? 😀 I’ve never been known for mumbling.. usually quite the opposite. lol. I never dodge a question so please,.,. re-ask.

  3. Chip,

    The first thing I want is to try craft a gentle way to break it to the community and tell the whole truth about what has been happening to the Nisenan families here for the last decade and a half.
    It’s not a pretty story.
    But for that I need help.
    Allow me to direct you to the article Jeff published from Indian Country Today, Native America’s first name in news.
    It’s on also the Nevada City Rancheria website.
    Then go to the Tsi Akim website and take a gander at the names on their Board of Directors.
    Those are some of the people I need to help me.
    Others are in local government and the local media outlet, I need their help too.

    The Nevada County Board of Supervisors could also lend a hand and help clarify this for the community.
    Their endorsement of the Tsi Akim Corporation still stands and they are refusing to rescind it.
    They are abandoning Nevada County’s heritage tribe, the surviving families of the worst holocaust in California History, who were shoved together on Cement Hill in 114 and the cast off that small piece of their lands by the Feds in the 1960’s.
    At best the BOS are just adding to the confusion and worse, they are not protecting our tribe, the Nevada City Rancheria.
    All these folks could show a lot of class if they were to step up and level with the community about their role in Nisenan woes and then direct their ire to the people who made tools of them.
    Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

    To answer your question Mr. Smith, the first person to “fess up” would be Letty Litchfield, Tsi Akim Board ember and Yuba County lawyer who sent an intimidating missive to the Nisenan, a few years ago, when they reopened their little Firehouse museum, implying an expensive libel lawsuit, that they could ill afford as they simultaneously battle The Great White Father in D.C. for redress of the decades of lost opportunities and resources that other CA tribes enjoy.
    They were essentially gagged and I was also named in that document.
    I was ready to engage Ms. Litchfield in court for attempting to abridge my first amendment right to free speech, but it’s not about me here, so I agreed to be as discreet as possible in order to keep the Nisenan safe.
    That’s why the Nisenan may have sounded vague to you, and it’s absolutely why you clearly sense my outrage from time to time. It has been hard to witness the bullying the Nisenan have had to endure and they do it with no small amount of grace, I might add.

    All of that is about to change, please call Shelly Covert, NCR Tribal Secretary, and have a talk with her or maybe some of the elders.
    You will find that they are able to speak much more freely now.

    As for Don’s dissembling about his plans for our county?
    Why don’t you ask him about that?
    You may be able to reach him through the Mountain Maidu Summit Consortium in Plumas County, his ancestral homelands.

    1. So what would give the native people in Nevada County relief? Are there thousands of them? Apologies aside. Going forward,what vision do you have to make all of this right? You mention other tribes in California having opportunities, would you like a casino like them? On Cement Hill?

  4. I’d like to add a positive note here.
    Recently CHIRP and the tribe hosted a party at the fabulous Golden Era Saloon in Nevada City to thank their supporters and friends.
    The Tribal Secretary, Shelly Covert, asked everyone to introduce themselves.
    As we went around the room it gradually began to dawn on us how many local luminaries and just plain good folks now walk with the Nisenan, to lend them faith and inspiration. It was genuinely touching and we who have worked so hard to get to this point are all so grateful. You know who you are and we love you. Your support, often courageous, has helped our tiny tribe accomplish so much for the community in just seven years. They have proven what hard and devoted workers they are and that has given them confidence and vigor.
    With the kinds of friends the Nevada City Rancheria now has, they are no longer forgotten and friendless in their homelands and their future has become much brighter.
    So much, I truly believe, the better for all of the rest of us.

  5. Hi Judith.
    I met you and your husband one time. It is clear to me, per our discussion and your posts, that you are very passionate about this issue. I appreciate that.

    With that being said, I’ve checked out the website and understand that there is conflict. But, I’m with Chip. What’s the problem? What’s the solution? Why do I care? How is it effective to Nevada County?

  6. Chip and Chris,
    To answer your question to a very complicated issue, let me begin with this.
    With respect for his service, both military and civic, I deeply regret outgoing Supervisor Beason’s decision not to revisit the Nevada City Rancheria’s request that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors clarify the meaning of it’s two standing endorsements, one the October 2, 2000 endorsement of the Tsi-Akim Corporation and later it’s 2010 endorsement of the Nissan and the Nevada City Rancheria.

    Quite apart from the issue of insulting Nevada County’s own fully documented heritage tribe in favor of an undocumented corporation with a convincing figurehead, it’s risky.
    Leaving this bifurcated ruling stand could very well threaten whatever entitlements our tribe and county might receive together should the Nisenan succeed in winning back their Federal recognition. A third party with an agenda could claim an interest. If that should happen, those monies and resources could flow away from Nevada County to Plumas County.

    I understand the BOS’s distaste an perhaps embarrassment with this matter and why they just want it to go away. But, as much of a nuisance as this issue has been for them, it has been devastating to the Nisenan. I might add, and this is no small thing, that later on the Yuba County B.O.S. also fell into same scheme and provided the T.A. Corp with privileges, some of their lands to use, talk of a Maidu cultural center (again on Nisenan lands) and the usual apologies from the “White Man”. Several Nisenan clans from other regions, including Nevada County’s own, gathered at the Yuba Co. B.O.S. to protest on behalf of the Yuba Co. Nisenan. I believe those Supervisors know better now and will be dealing with it when the two year lease for Kulu is up. You see, they can’t do anything about it until then because they signed a lease. That’s the kind of bind you don’t want see to entrap your public officials.

    When someone approaches my county’s Board of Supervisors and demands money, power, land and oh yes, apologies, they had better have solid proof of who they say they are.
    Playing the “Indian card”, on our supervisors should not have worked in this late day and age, but it appears to have been as easy as taking candy from a baby. I watched it unfold on NCTV.

    What happened to the pre-gold rush Nisenan and their homelands in 1849 was bad enough, but what happened to the 100 or so present day survivors of the Nevada City Rancheria is simply astonishing in the 21st century, especially for a community that prides itself, nay, banks heavily on it’s alleged connection to history in order to attract tourist dollars..

    It is regrettable the tribe was not able to help the Board understand all of this before it was too late. But, they were intimidated into silence by the Tsi-Akim lawyer and ignored by their clueless community. Add to this the epic failure of the local educational system, libraries, historical societies, all of which deemed Nisenan history insignificant, dust under the boots of the heroic miners, relegated to obscurity in their own homelands, and all after having lived peacefully on them for over nine thousand years. Oh, the indians knew who they were all right, conquered, hopeless, extinct. From their tenderest years, they learned in the local schools that all the “savages” had been wiped out in these parts to make way for the gold rush. However, the Nisenan also knew their family names, histories, customs, skills, stories, songs, dances and prayers and they have lovingly kept them alive from one generation to the next, to the present day..

    CHIRP, California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project, was formed to help the our Nevada County tribe restore their history to its rightful place. They now have a small army of experts and friends to help them. The heart of this culture yet beats and a with or without Washington D.C.’s blessing or permission, the Nisenan are back.

    1. Judith:

      As someone who held public office during the years the Tsi Akim took root in Nevada County –– Nevada City in particular –– I share in the responsibility for helping them gain local credibility. I voted to support them when they came to the city council looking for recognition, but in retrospect that was not a very smart decision on my part.

      Wish I had known then what I have learned since, but at the time of their request for recognition I had no reason (beyond my own lack of appropriate research, of course) to doubt what I was supporting.

      A question:

      Is a BOS declaration procedurally required in order for you to secure proper standing with the Department of Interior? Or is it just something that would be helpful? I don’t know the answer, which is why I am asking the question. Without a doubt, you and others are more than capable of making your case to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. independent of BOS support.

      I see that Doug LaMalfa serves on a House subcommittee for Indian Affairs, and Tom McClintock chairs a House subcommittee dealing with Federal Land. What help have they offered? For that matter, has either congressman indicated a willingness to support your effort? Or even listen to you?

      Meanwhile, if you ever need a letter of support from a former Nevada City councilman and mayor, please let me know to whom it should be addressed.

      1. Thank you for your words Mr. Cottrell, I am pleased to perceive you as a man of substance and integrity.
        You are not alone either, because when I moved here even I thought I was in a sort of Southern Maidu country. I was wrong, the Nisenan is a separate nation from the Maidu though related in some ways mostly having to do with native wisdom about family trees having a lot of branches, and actually it’s quite spread out. They had a good life.
        Now, this little rancheria here in “Outstomah”, is quite unique in all of gold country and indeed California.
        For look where it sits, at the center of the richest mines in the state, home of the wealthiest bosses.
        In spite of that we now have numerous sources that give us a very clear picture of their history, and this time it will not be buried because indian people from all over know they must reiterate their history for each new generation or it will fade as it did here.

        With a proper interpretive center and archive it will be possible to tell the story of these people to the world, because it represents triumph through dark times, patient emergence into the new reality and gritty survival.
        We know survival is not complete until the soul of the victim forgives.
        The Nisenan are generous with forgiveness for those, “who do not know what they do”, and a willingness to move on, roll up sleeves, pitch in with everybody else and do what they can to lift their community.
        Please contact the tribe through Shelly Covert, Tribal Secretary and get to know them better.
        You will not regret it.

  7. The investors who helped the Tsi Akim acquire land, money and powers in our county for so long might now want to think about stepping up for the Nisenan with the same kind of support.
    One begs the question, why such a rampant campaign to place that corporation in a power position and nothing for our actual tribe? These people demonstrated so much love for indians that they even gifted the Maidu with the entrance to Nevada City!

    I don’t actually know the name of the recipient on the deed to Robinson Corner, but I witnessed the deed handed over to Don Ryberg., T.A. Chairman, at that weird quasi-indian “ceremony”, with then Mayor Kaufman and Vice Mayor Senum officiating, and many prominent citizens in attendance.
    I have pictures, and the one that makes me saddest is of Farrell Cunningham, a young man I knew from my homelands, because that’s when I realized what he was doing down here and what it was all about.

    If that deed is worded as a gift to the Maidu people, then I would ask my people to give it back along with a number of missing, conceivably purloined Nisenan artifacts. Those things shouldn’t belong to us, we Mountain Maidu tribes have our own lands, remote, beautiful, unspoiled. With the return of Humbug Valley, other burial and culturally sensitive sites, and a million and half dollars to build the Maidu cultural center in Chester, the Mountain Maidu are sitting pretty.
    So why pick on the Nisenan?
    “What do they have that we don’t have?” I asked myself.
    Well, a lot more traffic, people and money for one thing.

    Don and his corporation are out of bounds in Nisenan traditional homelands, and they know it.
    It looks too much like “reservation shopping”, a term you need to look up.
    Now they know others know it too, like the formidable Cheryl Schmidt of Stand up for America, a watchdog organization that exposes tribes for attempting encroachment on other tribe’s lands for monetary gain. I had a great lunch with her at the New Moon and I learned a lot from her.

    While I think Don should pack up this gang and go, one sees parallels to an analysis of Donald Trump’s tenacity in spite of his dwindling campaign polls, the commentators observe that along with a compelling ambition for power, he just can’t seem to let go of the euphoria of false worship.
    “Born again indians” are always in it for something emotional and that’s a sad fact.
    Mr. Ryberg is hooked on what indian men were so long denied, respect, love, and power.
    I have seen it in my own family.
    He may have abused all of that, but he should have our pity and forgiveness nonetheless, provided he goes home now and behaves himself.

    The Alpha building has been a ghost for too long and really depressing for the town folk. Once upon a time, big plans and ideas were put forth to the public and everybody was excited that the Alpha would soon rise like a Phoenix to become a solid anchor and hub of activity for Nevada City’s downtown commercial district. What happened there? I remember the Tsi Akim Corp. was to play a large role in that development. Sounds like it was planning on coming up with a lot off dough. Then it went away. In a perfect world the many investors whose hopes were raised and then dashed should have had protection and recourse. What a pity.

    To put some of this right, CHIRP was founded, in part, to empower the Nisenan by digging out the proof of who they are from every available source both locally and from archives across the country, Sacramento, U.C. Davis, San Bruno and Washington D.C.. to name a few. The Foley and the Searles had plenty of buried Nisenan history, Federal documents, photos, ledgers and essays by forgotten historians, like Doris Foley herself, who conducted interviews with old Chief Kelly. The tribe has taken a very active role in rebuilding their history. They secured a handsome grant from the State Library to enhance the Foley collections. They are now navigating a veritable gold field of grants for unrecognized tribes.
    They have demonstrated that they’re capable of organizing, mobilizing, rising to a steep learning curve and meeting goals within a short time period, against terrific odds, and all with amazing grace.

    You know what, I’m probably not conveying my point, about the importance of protecting the families of the Nevada City Rancheria, as well as one of our community’s venerated elders.

    So with his kind indulgence, I give you George Rebane in a recent post on his blog site:

    “With the launch of the much debated Brexit we see that people worldwide do cherish their own cultures and do want secure lands where they can speak their own language, practice and pass on their traditions, educate their children, and live according to their shared values and beliefs. And in so doing they want to live in homelands where they themselves can direct and pace the inevitable changes that all cultures undergo. These people do not want to live their lives according to multitudes of malformed mandates that require permissions sought from distant rulers and planners.”

    Thank you Mr. Rebane, I could not have said it better myself.

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