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.

Credits:

Directors/Producers
Rachel de Leon
David Ritsher

Reporter
Marc Dadigan

Archival Footage/Photos
Maria Gilardin, TUC Radio
Caltrans
UC Berkeley

Music
APM Music LLC

Executive Producer
Amanda Pike

Editor in Chief
Amy Pyle

David Ritsher is the senior editor for TV and documentaries for Reveal. He has produced and edited award-winning investigative documentaries for over 15 years, on subjects ranging from loose nukes in Russia to Latino gangs in Northern California. His work has appeared on FRONTLINE, PBS NewsHour, ABC News, National Geographic, Discovery, KQED and other national broadcast outlets. Before joining CIR, David was the coordinating producer for FRONTLINE/World for over six broadcast seasons and championed much of its experimentation with video on the web.

Rachel de Leon is a reporter and  producer for TV and documentaries for Reveal. De Leon has worked in video for more than 10 years as a videographer and producer. Throughout 2017, she was the coordinating producer for Glassbreaker Films – an initiative from The Center for Investigative Reporting to support female filmmakers – helping to produce five half-hour documentaries for national and festival distribution, and more than 20 online minidocumentaries. In 2016, she won two Emmys for her work on the web series "The Dead Unknown" and the PBS NewsHour segment "Deadly Oil Fields." In 2014, she completed her first short documentary, “Cab City,” for her master’s thesis in the documentary program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. De Leon is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.