Northern California Tragedies (Nov. 12, 1997)

The harvest sun slips behind the hills surrounding the Shodakai Casino on the Coyote Valley Rancheria where, in a walnut grove, Wailaki Indian Eugene “Bear” Lincoln, the Lincoln family and supporters, listen to drummers from tribes from all over northern California beat out their solemn joy at Bear's acquittal of murder charges just hours ago.

For the first time since what Indians up here call “the tragedies” — the April 14, 1995, deaths of two Indian men and a deputy sheriff on the Round Valley Reservation near the white border town of Covelo — has Bear Lincoln, as a free man, been able to see the sun go down.

That spring day, Arylis Peters shot Gene Britton in front of Round Valley High School. Later in the night, two Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies staked out Arylis in a firebreak atop the ridge between Round and Little Valleys. Instead, the deputies encountered Arylis' brother Leonard “Acorn” Peters walking over the pass. During two firefights, Acorn and Deputy Robert Davis were killed. Bear Lincoln, following behind his best friend Acorn over the ridge, was eventually indicted for both murders. After four months in the woods on the run for fear of his life, until he turned himself in, and after more than two years in jail, Bear was acquitted of both first and second degree murders and attempted murders by an all-white jury in Ukiah, Mendocino County. The jury deadlocked 10-2 for not guilty on manslaughter charges, which may be retried in January.

As Bear, with his lawyers, walked out of jail just an hour ago, a drunk deputy sheriff called out from his squad car in the parking lot at Bear: it's not over yet, or, we'll get you later. “Something like that,” Bear grins, his wiry gray black hair waving down his shoulders over his ribboned print shirt.

Dusk descends over the walnut trees, where Bear's supporters have been camping out together in teepees and tents in Coyote Valley the five months Bear's trial played out five miles south in the Ukiah courthouse, 100 miles north of San Francisco. Tonight the Blackhorse Blues and Rock 'n Roll band plays, “I Shot the Sheriff, But I Did Not Shoot His Deputy.” Bear's friends half laugh as they roast pork ribs over an open fire pit. But the dancers tonight are almost all white. This night, indigenous men and women stand as sentinels against their cars under the walnut trees, their features obscuring into stark black silhouettes. Only their long, straight hair wafts in the twilight wind. They are as still as in ancient times, the past a continuum into eternity, the danger of now sundering them from the dream world. Tonight the Indians are on stand-by alert. They're guarding Bear.

Their vigil over Bear's safety will continue for months to come. He will sleep from safehouse to safehouse, not to return to his home in Little Valley, his family and his Appaloosas. Already, since the verdict came down just hours ago, accounts are coming in of Covelo police, California Highway Patrol and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies and SWAT teams careening around the Round Valley Reservation, looking for Bear, just as they surrounded the courthouse while the verdict was being announced.

“They're crazy to see Bear dead,” exclaims B.J., one of Bear's great aunties.

Indians up here believe the Mendocino County Prosecutor's attempt to frame Bear Lincoln for two of the “tragedy” murders is an extension of racism that has tortured their lives since the first white settlers moved into Round Valley in 1854, killing 40 Yuki Indians that first day. Over the years, the US government forced six more tribes, some of them ancient enemies, off their original lands and into the Valley. Settlers enslaved Indians, confiscated their homelands, forced their children from their families to go to Indian schools far away. Since 1925 Pentecostals have been challenging Indians' ways of worshiping the Great Spirit. Schools continue to discriminate against Indian children; peace officers bust them for trivial crimes. Hospitals refuse treatment when Indian families have no medical insurance. Federal recognition of some families within tribes is still being negotiated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior. The state of California wants to tax Indian casino revenues. Interior may threaten to flood Round Valley for a reservoir.

Without self-pity, but with sadness and anger, Indians say white people's prejudice continues to injure them every day. And some white Round Valley residents agree. The most intense recent assault on them, Indians say, began the night of the “tragedies.”

As soon as it was out on everybody's radio scanners that a policeman had been shot up on Round Valley Ridge, the sheriff ordered his men to shoot to kill whomever murdered officer Davis. According to Sara Jacobelli, whose home is near Indian housing, at least 75 peace officers' vehicles, their sirens wailing, lights whirling, screeched up the ridge, then, later, spread throughout the Valley. Helicopters droned over the ridge, their searchlights scalding the crime scene, then flew off all over the Valley as gunshots fired off intermittently all night. “It was like I imagine Vietnam,” says Sara. “I was on the porch with my dogs half a mile from the ridge. I had to put my dogs inside. I was afraid they would get shot.”

Daily police interrogations and home searches, often without warrants, of the 2,500 member Round Valley Indian community, especially of the hundred in the Peters and Lincoln families, began that night and lasted the four months Bear was on the run, all summer long of 1995. “That night” says Lucille Lincoln, Bear's mother, who lives near him in Little Valley, “my son told me to leave home with the children because police had murdered Acorn and were trying to kill us all.” As she drove over the ridge with her family to escape, she was stopped by a CHP officer swearing obscenities at her. The officer put his boot on Lucille's back. After that night, “They came to my house every day,” says Lucille. “They shot the padlock off my front door, put a bullethole through the stained glass window, hammered the locks off my trunks, threw dishes all over. They kept asking me. 'You must know where your son is, you're his mother. You must be feeding him'.”

Sylvia Duncan, a Wailaki, Bear's auntie, says, “They threw my papers all over, pulled out all my tapes. As if Bear was hiding in a cassette. I cleaned up my house every day, anyway, even though I knew they would come back tomorrow. You can't live in a mess.”

Later California Governor Pete Wilson offered a $100,000 reward for the capture of Eugene “Bear” Lincoln.

Other white residents of Round Valley agree white racism against Indian peoples is still virulent. Since the 1950s, Peter D'Luca's father has been taking him salmon fishing in the Eel River that winds through the Reservation. Now Peter lives up on Chicken Ridge. “Only four years ago did Covelo let Indians march in their Fourth of July parade, and then rednecks kept their children home. Indians couldn't eat in restaurants, couldn't go to barbershops or to movies in Ukiah. Covelo has two rodeos — one for rednecks, one for Indians. I kick ass at both,” he laughs.

Cora Lee Simmons, a Wailaki, Pomo and Little Lake leader, says, “The government promised us decent housing, sanitation, security. Ours is substandard — some of us have no plumbing, no electricity. Some Indians in Round Valley have no home.”

Edwina Lincoln, a Yuki Indian married to Pat Lincoln, Bear's cousin, maintains, “Whites own all the businesses in Covelo. It didn't used to be that way. We would love to start up a restaurant, an open market, a 7-11.” Indians need their own bank, but, “We can't even get loans. There are no jobs for our children when they get out of school. They have to leave Round Valley to find work. The Britton and Frank families running the Tribal Council are as much to blame as white businessmen and ranchers. They're tight with the police and take our federal subsidies for the tribe to buy homes, cars, college educations for their own kids. We get nothing.” When Edwina was on the Tribal Council for three years, she tried to get even advantages for all the families, she says.

Bia Del Campo, a Me-wuk who grew up “One of three Indian families, including Russell Means', in Vallejo, California, says, “The real war is against Indian children.”

Bia has suffered the harassment personally. Almost the only Indians in school in Vallejo, she and her younger sister Maggie, as little girls were picked on by teachers all the time. “We were so poor our mother fed us sugar sandwiches for more energy; that's why I still don't like food, I'm so skin and bones. I remember back then,” she smiles ruefully, “white kids teased us. Stories in school books about Indians described us as savage, uncivilized, warlike. Indians scalped white people and kidnapped white children. White kids would turn around and stare at us. I got a complex. I was ashamed to be an American Indian. I got Ds and Fs, so I dropped out of eighth grade. I remember BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) people coming to take my sister and me to Indian school — the Sherman Riverside Boarding School in LA, but our mother fought for us. She had been forced to go to Greenville and to Stewart Indian Board School in Nevada when she was little. It was the law. She never knew her brothers and sisters, never saw her family again for 50 years.”

Bia got her GED, went to Heald Business School, Solano and San Francisco State. With the help of affirmative action and lawyer Fania Davis, Angela Davis's sister, Bia and Maggie pressured the University of California, Berkeley, regents to accept them into American Indian Studies and the masters program in social work and public health. “Even then,” contends Bia, the Cal administration “tried not to give Maggie and me financial aid, even though they had minority masters' grant money. We were considered troublemakers because on our mission statement for our masters we wrote, 'We want to go back and help our oppressed and disadvantaged peoples.' That was considered too radical. Instructors were cold to us. We had to take classes together, we were so scared.” Both Bia and Maggie earned two masters degrees. Then, “Just last year, six FBI agents came to my house, searched the refrigerator, even my grandbabies' pockets, arrested me and made me spend the weekend in jail. Just because I hadn't finished paying my student loans.”

For years, Bia and her friend Hooty Croy were counselors at the Native American Health Clinic on East 14th Street in Oakland. They worked with Indian gang kids and drug abuse, conflict resolution, SIDs, HIV, fetal alcohol syndrome... Bia got grant money for her kids to write, produce and act in their own plays. “We paid kids $4.50 an hour for any job — they had to find their own director, write skits, rehearse until 2:00 in the morning. That kept them off the streets,” she laughed. “The plays took months to prepare. These kids were destroyed, drug addicts, raging, fighting with Asian kids...”

Bia knows how Indian kids are treated up here in Covelo. “Popos (police) bust these Indian kids for everything — graffiti writing, loitering, driving without a license, suspended license, no registration, truancy, riding their bikes down the road at night with no lights on — they get expelled from school. (Bear's cousin, Maidu Indian) Doug Lincoln's niece is in Juvenile Hall. She was 17 when she got busted for a DUI (alcohol) which was dismissed. When she was 18, she was rearrested and had to go to jail for 115 days for that old bust. I seen her in handcuffs.

“A couple of months ago, three white girls came all the way across the Res (Round Valley) to Lavena Lincoln's (Bear's aunt's) house to find (Lavena's granddaughters) Morningstar and Brandy, to kick their asses. Only the indigenous girls got arrested for disturbing the peace. Cops brought them to Ukiah (138 miles southwest of Round Valley) and let them out of jail at 3:00 in the morning. Erik (Bear's brother) says we should develop a safehouse down in Ukiah because the popos let our kids out of jail in the middle of the night on purpose all the time.”

“If we get busted for no license, or no car insurance, they throw us in jail, let us out at some crazy hour in the night, then impound our cars for $130 a day,” adds Leota Card, a Yuki Indian.

“A lot of Indian kids have helluva long rap sheets,” says Bia. “So when they grow up, the popos can put them away big time.”

“Our situation is perilous,” agrees Pat Lincoln, a Wailaki, Lavena's son and Bear's cousin. “It's called selective law enforcement. Cops never change their attitude toward the Lincoln family. I have five sons — Stormy, Wobollee, Loren, Dino and Daashkin, and one daughter, Otaka. Stormy had an unlit cigarette in his hand and got busted for possession of an illegal substance. Four of my sons are on probation. I'm on my way to court myself. White people married to Indians are hassled, too.”

To stop the harassment, especially constant since the “tragedies,” Pat's wife Edwina and 55 more Indians filed a class-action suit against Mendocino County and the FBI. Now that Bear's murder charges have been cleared, the civil suit can proceed.

Pat and Edwina Lincoln's 17-year-old daughter Otaka Redhawk was president of the Native American Indian Club at Round Valley High School last year, when she graduated. She says workers at her school are supposed to help Indian students with their grade point averages, sports, cultural awareness, “But no one from the school staff would be our advisor. The school superintendent said no, too.

“55-60% of our students are Native Americans. We have the highest dropout rates,” says Otaka. “My class had 25 at the beginning of last year. Seven quit by the end. Most of the other kids are white. We rarely have Mexicans — some kids are half Indian-half Mexican. We have one Black kid in school.

“We have cowboys, skaters and Indians. The white kids are mostly cowboys — kids of ranchers — Future Farmers of America. They do rodeos. Skaters just skateboard — they don't hurt anybody. My group are Indians — we're into sports. I stay on the reservation. I say hi to everybody, don't get into conflicts. I don't usually talk to white people — the ranchers and the Indians live in different parts of town.”

Otaka has an interview next week with the Indian Education Center. She's starting a Saturday School at the high school for Native American kids who have trouble learning and need help with their grades.

Cora Lee Simmons, her children grown and parents themselves, decided after 20 years working as a purchasing agent, the only way she could survive and raise up her kids was to go back to college. “We (Indian children) were taught in school we were never meant to go to school, make money or own land.” But Cora defied all three edicts. “I just prayed to my Creator and enrolled in Sonoma State. Only two Native Americans graduated the year I entered and I was real discouraged, but I knew I had to make it.”

Cora Lee's daughter, Stephanie Edwards Cordova Sanchez Lincoln, 31, is also of the Wailaki, Pomo and Little Lake tribes. She maintains, “These kids don't learn nothin'.” She tried to get help for her three-year-old daughter Jordan, as well as for all Indian children, but was similarly stifled. She joined the parent board of the Head Start Indian School, where Jordan went last year. When she found out the teachers weren't certified, she went to the state funding agency to complain, but the parent board didn't care.

Stephanie stays her tribal medicine man Willard advises parents not to send their children to school until they are six, so they can learn Indian ways. “They should learn words from their own languages from the seven tribes in Round Valley, and drumming, beading jewelry, to take nature walk, Indian dancing. My baby has been dancing since she could walk.

“But there are too many tribal politics involved. The parent board has as much authority as the tribal council. But some members of the parent board are Pentecostals from the Pentecostal Light House. To me they're more of a cult than a religion,” asserts Stephanie. “Because I had this anger in my heart toward them, I went to their director, but the staff breaks confidentiality. My daughter will not return to this school.”

Edwina Lincoln contends that Pentecostals have caused a schism not only within the schools but in the entire Round Valley Indian Community. “It's the old story from the days when our people were slaughtered. Religion is downing our spiritual ways. It works hand in hand with the state. They got a lot of Indian people to become Pentecostal. They accused us of devil worship — our vision quests, our sweats, cross country runs, pow wows, festivals. Just because we don't love Jesus. Their Sunday school is across from a bar. If they see one of us, like my husband Pat, in the bar, they call the police and complain he is messing with them, then they go and beat him up. When the police arrive, they arrest us for starting the fight because the church people already called in the report. That happens to my family all the time. Is that Christian?”

Lavena Lincoln, Pat's mother and Bear's auntie, a Wailaki elder, remembers the Pentecostals came to Round Valley about 1925. “Many Indians started to believe what the Pentecostals taught about Christ. They didn't want to be Indians anymore. They raise their children to believe the devil will get you. They try to say our Indian ways — the sweat lodge, Indian dances, our bush houses that face the East where the sun comes up — are witchcraft. They have infiltrated the tribal council with voting power.

“Our Indian ways are to teach our children to treat people good, be the same way every day, be considerate of the Earth,” says Lawena. “We teach kids not to shoot birds unnecessarily. The Spirit of the Creator is in all things. But my cousin B.J. believes in the Pentecostal ways,” Lavena giggles, “So I don't say too much.”

Not only is “white people's” religion dividing Indian families within tribes, but new revenues from gaming casinos now operated on one third of the nation's reservations are creating family competition for power within tribal councils, as well, says Ed Tabor, a Delaware/Cherokee. Tabor was Indian Justice Liaison for Tribal Government and helped the Auburn Rancheria become federally recognized. And, says Tabor, federal and state governments are trying to maneuver into managing and taxing those new Indian casino revenues, further eroding Indian rights. New gambling monies coming to tribes is motivating state of Washington Senator Slade Gordon to introduce legislation in Congress forcing Indians to waive long-standing sovereign rights against civil lawsuits. Now, non-Indians living on reservations cannot sue Indians in federal court, only in tribal courts, and have no right to appeal. In two weeks, according to Senator Gordon's office, the GAO (General Accounting Office) will report back to the Senate Appropriations Committee its assessment of the state of tribal finances. Depending on the GAO report, should Indians refuse to waive their sovereign rights, one and a quarter million Indians nationally could lose $767 million a year — nearly half their daily operating budget for the Indian lands. Other Gordon legislation will stipulate Indians lose their federal subsidy if their incomes rise above a certain level.

New casino revenues are causing trouble within tribes as well, says Tabor. One family often dominates within a tribal council that makes decisions regarding land use — minerals, fishing, hunting and water rights — and school curriculum. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs won't get involved in internal tribal politics,” says Tabor. He recommends an independent federal agency be created to visit tribes on a rotating basis with authority to hear individual Indian grievances, to offset the strict determinations of tribal councils.

“A year ago,” Bia Del Campo maintains, “my family received letters from our tribal people saying we're now officially recognized members of the Me-Wuk tribe. Originally, there were 36 members, then 300 more Me-Wuks, including my family were added. Then we all got new letters from out tribe voiding our new official status, saying the Secretary of the Interior neglected to sign the documents. But we think something suspicious is going on. Maybe the original Me-Wuks have a contract to open a casino, and they don't want to share the money with all of us. We had a big meeting in Tuolumne — we're investigating.”

California state government is also challenging Indian people's exclusive rights to casino income, as well, contends Philip Duncan, of the Pomo, Concow and Wintun tribes. Philip lives in Ukiah and after 2.5 years in San Quentin and Soledad prisons for forgery as a representative of Coyote Valley Rancheria, was just released. “Round Valley is the second largest and poorest reservation in the state, maybe in the nation. It has no casinos. But Coyote Valley Rancheria does and (California Governor) Pete Wilson wants a mutual agreement with casinos themselves,” says Duncan. “The state can't tax casinos because they're Indian properties. But California is trying to say the casinos' lotto is illegal. Indians never got approval for Gaming 3 laws, granting Indians special exemptions from state regulation, since each state has the right to tax gambling money. For the past two months, the Pala band in southern California has been negotiating with the state of California. But if all the tribes in California stick together,” says Philip, “They can withstand government's intrusion into profits casinos bring their tribes.

“Indian casinos have huge power,” Philip goes on. “They create jobs for whole reservations and for outside white communities as well. Ledyard, Connecticut, has a five-story casino. The Pequot tribe's casinos employ almost all of Mystic, Massachusetts. They contribute to political campaigns. That's power,” says Philip.

“Lots of Indians reinvest their casino revenues back into the tribe to help homeless, school, welfare, childcare, fire departments. They work with the whole community,” says Philip. “And there are lots of environmental issues in Indian country that we fund — we have to protect salmon, redwoods, to control burning of dead bushes. The government says they want us to be self-sufficient, then they threaten our chance, if they take away our casino money.”

But, according to Leota Card, a Yuki, Bear's auntie, married for a long time to a Britton, the biggest threat to local Indian sovereignty is the Department of Interior's plan to build Dos Rios dam and flood Round Valley into a man-made lake or reservoir. It's part of a 20-year proposal to extend the old Peripheral Canal by digging a Grindstone tunnel through the mountains out into the Central Valley into an aqueduct to send the water south. (The Grindstone, Paskenta and Chrome Indians live on the other side of the Coastal Mountains.) Although both the BIA and the US Army Corps of Engineers deny plans to flood the Valley are underway, but rumors amongst the Indians persist and trouble them. “Look at Coyote Valley,” Leota Points out. “Yokayo Indians used to live there until the feds herded them out to Ukiah to make Lake Mendocino, now surrounded by resorts for white people.

“Bud Harwood, a big timber and land owner, and a mill operator, with an association sold the federal government 18,000 acres of land on the north fork of the Eel River on the northern boundary of our Round Valley Reservation to our Res without our knowledge,” Leota continues. “He made the deal with Congress for $2 million — our tribes were to pay another $2 million. In my opinion, we were politely informed, not negotiating. It was a done deal. Three years later our tribes found out about the US Army Corps of Engineer's plan to flood Round Valley.

The land Harwood sold our tribes would be described as a 75° incline, really hard to build something on. Expensive,” says Leota. “We later discovered Harwood retained all the timber, water and mineral rights to that land he sold us.

“When Ronald Reagan was governor,” Leota goes on, “he came over to Round Valley and said, 'No; not now.' Then, ten years later, when he was President, he said 'No' again. Now, next year, it's up for discussion again. I guess I can slide my ass home.”

Meanwhile, the assault on Northern California Indian communities continues. In February, 1996, the Elem colony Burrows family took their dehydrated 11-month-old son Cody for the third time to Adventist Health Redbud Community Hospital in Clear Lake. There, Dr. Wolfgang Schug decided, either because the Indian family had no medical insurance and treatment plus a prolonged follow-up hospital stay is expensive to the hospital, or because Santa Rosa Hospital had a pediatric specialist on stand-by, to discharge the child at two in the morning. Dr. Schug gave Mr. Burrows a map to the Santa Rosa hospital, where his son went into a coma and cardiac arrest. Cody was then helicoptered to a San Francisco hospital where he was declared brain dead. A San Francisco coroner suggested Dr.Schug be charged with murder.

The Burrows family is now suing the doctor for malpractice. The Lake County prosecutor is bringing second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges against him. Questions rankle which may be answered within the trials — Was this child “dumped” by Redbud Hospital because the family had no medical insurance? Would he have received better, faster treatment had the family been not Indian, but white?

One answer comes from Elem community elders, who assert their compound has no emergency ambulance service, although Lake County Sheriff's Department and firefighters deny that.

Discrimination against Indians is ongoing within the justice system, as well as within the medical/health systems in Northern California. On July 17, 1978, Shasta-Karuk Indians Patrick “Hooty” Croy, his sister Norma Jean and cousin were in a Yreka convenience store for the third time that day, when the shopkeeper told Hooty he had given him $2 too much in change earlier in the day, and wanted it back. Hooty didn't know what the man was talking about and went outside to sit in his car. According to Bia Del Campo, Hooty and Norma Jean's friend, the shopkeeper shoved Norma Jean who pushed him back, then grabbed a can opener and forced him to the back of the store. A passing police car stopped and the shopkeeper yelled to the cops, “'Go get him,' not why.”

Thirteen cops from three counties pursued the Croys' junker car to the foothills and up the rutted dirt road to their grandma's house. The three jumped out of the car and were running up the hill toward their grandmother's home when the cops shot Norma Jean in the back, and wounded their cousin. As Hooty was climbing into his grandmother's back window, policeman Bo Hanson shot at him twice. Hooty then shot Officer Hanson through the heart. Hooty hid behind some metal as a barrage of police gunfire came at him. Eventually, police took Hooty to a hospital in Medford, Oregon, 30 miles away, relates Bia.

Other officers, says Norma Jean, went into their grandma's house. She offered them coffee and assured them her grandchildren knew where she lived and would be right home. Police swore at her grandmother and aunt, dragged them outside in their nightgowns, and threw them to the ground.

In 1979, Hooty was convicted of first-degree murder of a policeman and spent nine of the next 11 years incarcerated on death row. California Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court Rose Bird reversed his murder charge, but for technical reasons let his conspiracy to commit murder and assault charges stand. Hooty received ten years probation. Norma Jean was inside for 18 years for conspiracy to commit murder, even after Hooty's murder charge was dropped. She got out last summer.

Last November, after seven years of freedom, Hooty and his girlfriend were up in Ukiah to help support Bear Lincoln during his ordeal going through his own “cop killer” trial. Hooty and his girlfriend, both drunk, were fighting it out in the streets of Ukiah, when neighbors called the cops. Hooty and Bear were kicking it together in jail until authorities separated them because, as Norma Jean says, “Their spirit was too strong.”

Last month, an Auburn judge revoked Hooty's probation and reinvoked his life in prison sentence, with the possibility of parole, after 11 years in jail already, for what many of his supporters consider self-defense.

“They must really love him in there,” smiles Norma Jean, “they want him back so bad.”

In the same Ukiah courthouse where Bear Lincoln was just acquitted of double murder charges, Leo Summersault, a very bad guy who is a Dry Creek Pomo from Geyserville was convicted of second degree murder of a Mexican laborer with a grape knife during an extended fight between seven Native Americans and four Mexican nationals. No supporters attended Leo's trial; no newspaper reporters packed his courtroom. His jury consisted of ten whites and two people of color.

Back up in the Coyote Valley Shodakai Rancheria, night blankets the thick walnut branches covering over Bear Lincoln's supporters. Indians move into their teepees and Bear leaves for his first night of freedom to sleep in a safe house, not his home. The Blackhorse Blues Band packs up their instruments.

David “Brody” Lincoln, Bear's cousin, a Coyote Valley Pomo, is lead singer and guitar player for Blackhorse. Brody describes the separation that severely rends white and indigenous communities as cultural, and defies what he considers white-imposed segregation. “I'm wrong, no matter what I do, according to white culture, because I'm an Indian. I hunt deer, rabbit, squirrel, anything I can for food for my family. I try to keep the little amount of land I have left, although they got some of it. I have a fifth wheel and a tent on my property in Ukiah. I tried it there way — I have a piece of paper from a university — it doesn't do any good. My native religion is wrong. If I try to marry a white woman, it's wrong for both our families — to white families, and to progressives in my tribe.

“Whites want to know why I need to carry a gun. What if they don't like my color some day? Are they going to take me out in some field and shoot me like they did my friends last year?

“All this talk about Bear being free is doubletalk,” Brody grieves. “They (Mendocino prosecutors) are going to try him again for manslaughter. They'll offer him a plea bargain. He'll make some kind of deal for time served. He'll be free, but he'll still be guilty of murder.”

“The tragedy is,” says Brody, “that three people were killed up there in Round Valley that night. If the police — or the constituency the police work for, who pay the most taxes and pay the revenue for their (the police's) jobs determine their tasks throughout the day — want him dead, Bear will become the martyr everyone said he would become. Maybe he will live. I pray so. If so, I'll be wrong again.”

3 Responses to "Northern California Tragedies (Nov. 12, 1997)"

  1. Katte Schaaf   October 4, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    This is the most poignant article I’ve read on these important matters… trusting Bear is still with us doing well!

    Reply
  2. Mark Wilkinson Laszlo   October 6, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    Best wishes to native Americans. Don’t drink and fight. Avoid all meth and bad drugs. All tribes come together for survival. You can’t win apart.

    Reply

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