Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness Council Presentation (2012)

Hawk Rosales began his presentation on October 30, 2012, by reminding the audience that we are on Wiyot territory. He said it is important to acknowledge place, and I agree with him on that. Although I believe Humboldt State is a school which provides many opportunities for learning that are not found elsewhere, I am surprised at how much time passed before I heard the first mention that this is tribal land.

Rosales’ presentation covered the history of the Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness Council. The Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness Council was formed in 1986, and has been working to amend Marine Life Protection Act to include considerations for tribal subsistence. Values of the organization include protection, restoration, and stewardship of natural resources and their communities.

Rosales spoke on the process and experience in working with government organizations and universities. He mentioned some experiences that have been less than favorable, but although a different approach may be taken, both groups usually have a consistent purpose and goal in mind with regards to the protection, restoration, and stewardship of these areas.

I found this presentation to be very relatable to concepts we are learning in class, especially regarding collaboration between government and tribal organizations. Although there are differences in worldview, and a legacy of contention, many of these organizations share similar goals in the protection, restoration, and stewardship of the environment. The unfortunate aspect is that many organizations do not include the tribal perspective in their considerations until after decisions have been made. This makes it a tedious process for tribal organizations to assert their own rights to their culturally important areas.

The acquirement of the Four Corners property was another victory for the Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness Council. The story of sally bell is a sad but important reminder of a specific period in time for this culture. These are the types of sites many modern archaeologists seek to preserve, that have association with people of cultural importance.

I thought the point made about being careful how things are talked about is important, and that only certain people are qualified to give such information. What is unfortunate is those who do produce “knowledge” for others are often producing it for themselves. Rosales mentioned briefly that history was written by “not natives”. I think this is one of the most important concepts. History was written completely one sided, and it unfortunately takes Americans until college or later (if ever) before they learn the true versions of history.

It is unfortunate that they have had some negative experiences working with universities, that researchers take information out of context. Because worldviews and perceptions can be different, collaboration efforts should be of the upmost importance for both sides.

I had a personal interest in his discussion on what they do for conservation, because I volunteered through the Cultural Resources Facility, located at Humboldt State University in their Department of Fish and Game 2012 survey season. A couple of the projects I took part in were just what Rosales mentioned. Our team of archaeologists and botanists surveys the proposed areas for these “large wood structures” to help with salmonid conservation. Our goal is to make sure there will be no heavy destructive construction in areas of sensitive cultural importance or rare plants. We work with tribes as monitors and as important collaborators with the goal of preserving these sites. To make sure they are not destroyed in the process of rehabilitating the environment. Along that topic, I think it is great they are including public access trails, so the general public can have a way to enjoy without destroying.

In regards to the MLPA and acts like it, the opinions of Indigenous peoples should be considered in any issue regarding natural resources. It is too often these opinions are ignored and disregarded, and it causes an unnecessary struggle between organizations, while adding to cultural stressors.

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Published by Nikki M

Applied Anthropologist and Digital Dance Specialist

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