In the middle of the night in fall 2013, California Department of Transportation workers dug into the earth to construct a new highway bypass in Willits, about two hours north of San Francisco. According to federal law, the local Pomo people had a right to send tribal monitors there, but they allegedly were barred from the nighttime construction.
Caltrans admitted that in the process, a known cultural site was disturbed. Priscilla Hunter, an elder from the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, says Caltrans destroyed the site and kept cultural artifacts that should be returned.
Today, Hunter’s tribe and the Round Valley Indian Tribes are suing Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, demanding they pay for the damage done to the sacred sites. The National Historic Preservation Act, cited in the lawsuit, is the same one the Standing Rock Sioux claims the Dakota Access Pipeline violated.
Rachel de Leon
Maria Gilardin, TUC Radio
APM Music LLC
Editor in Chief