River Views

Last week’s column touched on Pomo sites near Fort Bragg, which in turn sent me to Samuel Alfred Barrett’s The Ethno-Geography of the Pomo and Neighboring Indians, first published in 1908. Much of the field observation for Barrett’s work was performed in the 1890s, less distant from a time when white people were unknown to the Pomo than my earliest childhood memories are to me.

Among Barrett’s list of “Village Sites” for the Pomo is kalaili, situated on what in 1908 was known as the “old” Stevens property; now the Glendeven Inn. Isaiah Stevens was one of the early white settlers of Littleriver. The stream is spelled out as two words, the town as one word to avoid confusion with another California settlement bearing the same moniker. That compels me to remind readers that Mendocino is, was, and always should be a town. It has sometimes been referred to as Mendocino City to separate it from the county’s name. Only relatively recently has it been called a “village,” by people who do not know any better. In the last couple of decades, those who’d prefer the town of Mendocino become a gentrified sanctuary of the wealthy have adopted the vile, despicable, weasel-mouthed term of “village” to describe this once proud and vibrant home to working class fishermen, farmers, tree fallers, grocers, butchers, handymen, barbers, prostitutes, bartenders, doctors, lawyers and engineers.

The place the Pomo inhabited closest to Mendocino, about a mile east of the Pacific Ocean and just north of Big River, was called Buldam. Suffice to say, Buldam does not translate to village. To the Pomo “bul” meant a large rock at the mouth of the river, “dam” translated as a trail. The contagion of referring to the town of Mendocino as “the village” needs to be wiped out as surely as the medical profession would take after an epidemic. If not, sure as smallpox-infested blankets aren’t good for you, there will soon come a time when that syrupy term will be as acceptable as secret million dollar Superpac donations.

I do not shop at the “Village Pharmacy.” I do not plan to take any animal to the “Village Veterinary” and I doubt if a single soul working in the “Village Veterinary” building knows that it once was the home of Nettie Nichols or that her house was moved with jackscrews in the late 1940s from Lansing Street to Howard Street by Herman Fayal and Alvin Mendosa. I doubt if anyone who regularly refers to Mendocino as “the village” would recognize Alvin Mendosa on the streets of Mendocino, though a nobler man scarcely ever resided in that town unless it was William or August Heeser. Those two gentlemen published and edited The Mendocino Beacon for nearly 90 years. The first Mr. Heeser arrived on the coast in the 1850s, the second was chiefly responsible for the Mendocino Headlands being the scenic, open-to-the-public place it is at present.

The short-sighted moneygrubbers of today use and abuse that scenic beauty for monetary profit. They are most responsible for labeling Mendocino with what my mother derisively called a “quaintsy” term, “the village.”

So, if you are one of the money-grubbing realtors or landlords in the town of Mendocino, go on, keep calling it “the village,” so we’ll know who you are when the time comes to hold moneygrubbers responsible for their usurious ways. For everyone else, unless you want to be thought of as a pretentious member of Mendocino’s 1%, stop calling it a freakin’ village! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! ¥¥

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