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Location: Redding, CA, United States

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Getting it Right when on a deadline

Bruce Ross, an editor at the Redding Record Searchlight, had this posted on his blog:

Live from the war dance

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Record Searchlight wasn't able to send a reporter down to Sacramento to cover the Winnemen Wintus' "war dance" last night and today's march to the state Capitol (though Dylan Darling caught up with them beforehand).

The Bee, however, dispatched a war-dance correspondent, who got an earful from Mark Franco:

When legislation for Shasta Dam was approved by Congress, it contained a promise to acquire property for the Winnemem to replace the 4,480 acres of tribal and allotment lands that would be flooded.

That promise has not been kept, Mark Franco said, and the government continues to appropriate areas that the tribe considers sacred. The tribe's permit to gather wood from a manzanita grove for ceremonial fires has been rescinded and the grove turned into a campground, he said.

In addition, he said, the Bureau of Land Management has refused to allow continued use of a tribal cemetery.

"So when we bury someone, we are in danger of being arrested," Franco said.

I tried to respond on his page with the following but could not get their computer to let me log on so I will put my reply here:

The "war dance correspondent" got some of the information wrong: The permit was not to gather wood (the USFS destroyed the manzanita grove in violation of an agreement not to cut that area) The permit was one to use our old roundhouse site for open ceremony, we held the ceremony in secret until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedoms Act in 1978 - we got the permit in 1979. That permit was revoked, no new permit issued and the area is under consideration as a FS campground - we are in opposition to this.

The BLM mention pertains to their policy of not allowing burials on "their lands". Since the tribal cemetery is now under BLM control, rather than held by the BIA, burials are not allowed. Until these issues are resolved (hence the lawsuit) we do stand to be arrested for violating federal law by burying in the active cemetery.
The Bee did a good job in the initial report but the way it comes across here, makes these very real issues seem like a minor complaint by a petulant child when in fact it is a wakeup call for all of us that our individual rights and the freedoms we enjoy are being eroded by a government too big to worry about the non-rich, non-majority people of this land. I really wish the Searchlight could have sent Dylan Darling to cover this event; he had a lot of the information right in his initial report filed Sunday the 19th.

I genuinely like the Blog items on the RS web page. Mr. Ross has covered a lot of very important issues in a humorous and honest manner. I hope he continues his work. I just want to make sure that when we are quoted (in this case not by Mr. Ross but by Sacramento Bee) that the quotation is accurate. I am not a journalist by any means, my job with the tribe is to report to the people, accurately, what leadership wants told. Hopefully, just as I tell the students who come to our village in search of information for their targeted degrees, they will get it right.

No offense to the reporters who must cover stories at the drop of a hat; yours is not an easy job by any means and the information that you provide is needed now more than ever.

Anyway, we will have more to say about the lawsuit when the government has had a chance to reply; until then read your newspaper, express your opinion and make a difference in the world - just do it right.

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