Editor’s note: Beverly Ogle submitted this Where I Stand following a Sheriff’s Blotter entry that noted an issue involving entry to Humbug Valley.
I have no choice but to do this article in defense, even though I did nothing wrong. I am a Mountain Maidu elder of 81 years that has spent a lifetime going to Tásmam Kojóm (Humbug Valley) my beloved valley. I have worshiped at the Sacred Big Spring that my Maidu ancestors showed me 70-plus years ago. My ancestors’ graveyard is in Humbug Valley.
I did many years of memorial gatherings in honor of my family buried there at the graveyard, and I still do. And I feel I don’t have to ask M.S.C.’s (Maidu Summit Consortium) director for permission to do so. Last year’s Dixie Fire swept through this beautiful valley ruining everything in its path including my family cemetery. So this year I planned a Healing Ceremony for the “land” like the ancestors would have done. The place we intended the Healing Ceremony to be held was near the Big Spring (our church) in Humbug Valley. In the place for the event, were no hazard trees overhanging the area, and at the meadow’s edge was a flat area with no trees where the Maidu drummers would set up.
Well, I was the first car to arrive to find the M.S.C. Director alone blocking the road with her pick-up, and handing me a letter written by her on M.S.C. letterhead, and wouldn’t let me by. There were many cars behind me of Maidu and friends; she had summoned a deputy to escort us away, saying we were trespassing on her land. She claimed the land was closed because of hazardous trees, but the road we were on was Forest Service and there were no closure signs on that road. This ugly scene brought on by M.S.C.’s Director was unjust. A M.S.C. member tried to talk to her, but she wouldn’t listen. She mentioned we didn’t invite her or ask her permission. This behavior of hers is one reason she wasn’t invited. At this sacred event it is not proper to be angry and bitter and with a heavy heart. How could she possibly feel good about herself. This Director’s brother used to support our Native American events and would not have let his sister behave in this manner, had he been alive and there. The Public she mentions that were with me that day were Maidu folks and friends. However, we did have a beautiful Healing Ceremony nearby supported by many dear friends and Maidu folks. Everyone could not believe witnessing a Maidu rep’s behavior in such a disrespectful manner to a Maidu elder, who helped the M.S.C. get the land. Now I wished PG&E still owned the land. They were always cooperative with me whenever I wanted to preserve certain areas. They let me construct the rock at the Soda Spring I had created to represent the first people, the Mountain Maidu of Tásmam Kojóm. I had the chain link fence installed in 1997 around my ancestors’ graves, where cattle trails, were destroying the graves. For 21 years I had memorial gatherings with Maidu folks. It was well attended.
In 2012 I got permission from PG&E to have a rail fence installed along the road to the campground (about a mile) to protect the ancient bedrock mortars in the meadow. My friends at CalFire Paynes Creek volunteered to do the work free, which they did. I mentioned to CalFire some other projects I’d like to see done in Humbug, when we got the land returned to the Maidu. CalFire offered to bring their fire truck for standby if we needed them. So I’m no stranger to Humbug Valley and its preservation.
This person that stopped the Healing Ceremony from happening at the Big Spring, never was a part of or at any of the meetings when we were working with Stewardship Council to get our land back from PG&E. Now according to her the only owners of Humbug Valley are a handful of part-Maidu people belonging to M.S.C. This land belongs to all Mt. Maidu and their descendants.
A friend of mine, Edwin Wilson an environmental attorney whom I met when I was a campground host at Humbug 2006-2009, came to many M.S.C. meetings at Humbug and offered to help “pro-bono” in legal matters. He was the one to help get our 501.3c status. He guided our group and did legal work for us. (M.S.C.’s Director doesn’t know any of this information.) Now the authority she tries to throw should not be allowed. I will always go to my ancestral valley without asking her or M.S.C. permission. Dare they throw me in jail for visiting my graveyard?
My grandson cut the ribbon at the celebration put on by Stewardship Council at the return of the Humbug Valley to the Mountain Maidu folks. Maidu people came to the event from miles away. Not just M.S.C. My grandson was a seventh generation Maidu member Tásmam Kojóm. This family is the only one that can proudly make this claim with proof.
I wrote the ethnographic history of the valley to show PG&E and Stewardship Council how important it was for the Maidu people to get our land returned to us. My great grandfather was born in Humbug Valley as well as his father. My grandmother was born there and her many children including my father — all with Maidu names as well. Also my Davis family buried there are another side of my family related to my great grandmother Roxie Peconom from Susanville and not the Davis family from Genesee. I wrote the Maidu History of Humbug to show the Maidu’s connection to the valley, while I was vice chairman of M.S.C. and why the Valley Tásmam Kojóm should be returned to our people, not just the M.S.C.
I am a a member of the Tásmam Kojóm Foundation, a private entity.
I did a Healing Ceremony right after the Chip’s Fire that burned the eastern ridge overlooking Humbug Valley. This ceremony is a Sacred Ceremony, not a social party. It’s our Indian way of showing our connection with the land with prayers, plus T.E.K. concerns. And many neighboring tribes attend to show their support with prayers. The sacred fire, drumming and dance are important at this ceremony.
There’s much more to this story, but this is enough for now. I’m just not anyone trying to bring in the public for a Healing Ceremony under a bunch of hazardous trees, as the article sounded in Plumas News.
This is in my defense,
Tásmam Kojóm member