February 11th, 2011
The Kashia Pomo Tribe in Sonoma County California won a victory in defense of their tribal fishing and gathering rights.
The California Fish and Game Commission voted to allow the Tribe to continue gathering and conducting ceremonies in a marine protected area at Stewarts Point. The decision made permanent a temporary provision that the Commission approved last year.
“Our people believe we first walked onto the Earth right there at Stewarts Point, and a lot of our traditions are passed down along that coast,” said Reno Franklin, vice chair of the tribe, as quoted in in the Sacramento Bee.
Archeological evidence indicates the tribe has used Stewarts Point and surrounding shoreline for 12,000 years, according to Franklin as a source of food and a place for ceremonies.
This article claims that two major actions by the Tribe and their allies ensured this result: first, Kashia Pomo Tribal elders conducted a historic blessing ceremony off Stewarts Point last April 30, the day prior to the closure of the sacred site by the Fish and Game Commission that drew citizens of the Kashia Pomo, Point Arena Reservation and other tribes, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, environmentalists and human rights activists; second, Kashia Pomo leaders and their lawyer gave an excellent presentation documenting the Tribe’s historic use of the area to the Fish and Game Commission.
This author claims the victory by the Kashia Pomo sets a great precedent in allowing for continued gathering and ceremonies by other Indian Tribes in California marine protected areas.