.Tamál Húye: Coast Miwoks Fight for Recognition of Point Reyes’ Indigenous History

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On April 22, the California Coastal Commission held a virtual hearing to discuss the impact of dairy and cattle ranching at Point Reyes National Seashore. Superintendent Craig Kenkel began his presentation with the words, “Point Reyes is the ancestral home of the Coast Miwok.”

Kenkel spent the rest of his talk advocating for a Park Service proposal to increase the terms of ranching leases from five to 20 years. This, despite the findings of an Environmental Impact Statement released by the National Park Service last year which revealed multiple harms caused by 150 years of bovine-centric agriculture at the seashore. The ongoing damage includes water pollution by cow urine and feces, atmospheric pollution by carbon and methane gas emissions, and the extinction of native plant and animal species. [See “Apocalypse Cow,” Dec. 9, 2020]

Kenkel said that extending the leases is necessary to “preserve multi-generational ranches” that are protected by the National Register of Historic Places. He did not mention that in 2015 the Park Service terminated a proposal to protect the archeological remains of Coast Miwok habitation using the National Register.

Rep. Jared Huffman came online and told the Commission, “Ranching is part of the Seashore’s DNA.” Five commissioners disclosed that Huffman telephoned them before the meeting, asking for a vote in favor of the proposal. But the congressman did not reach out to Theresa Harlan, whose family’s actual DNA is embedded throughout the Seashore.

In her testimony to the Commission, Harlan asked, “Why is a 100-year-plus dairy-ranching history more valuable than a Coast Miwok history of 10,000 years? You have a decision to either protect Coast Miwok archeological sites, or to add to the erasure of the Coast Miwok archeological record.” The Commission voted 5-4 to approve the Park plan to protect and preserve commercial agriculture at the endangered national seashore.

Tomales Bay Indians—Tamáls

This reporter first met up with Harlan and her husband, Tiger, at Point Reyes. On a windy March afternoon, the two Indians and I hiked a dirt road as it curved into a tree-shaded cove on the west side of Tomales Bay. Revealed were wooden houses built by a Coast Miwok family during the late 19th century. A stream trickled onto the beach. Hanging from a tree, a frayed rope that once anchored a row boat danced in the wind. The place was Harlan’s ancestral home.

Harlan, 61, told me, “There is a myth that the Indigenous people simply walked away, and the land was empty, and the settlers came, and took title to it, and developed it, and there wasn’t any contest.” She channels a force greater than herself. “My people are still here. All public land is native land.” As the Indigenous saying goes, the people are the land.

In the language of the Coast Miwok people, Tomales Point is Calupetamál or Hummingbird Coast, and Point Reyes peninsula is Tamál-Húye, Coast Point. Ten thousand years ago, trekkers from Beringia settled in the fog-watered meadows of Tamál Húye, founding  long-lasting, intelligently-managed societies that left an imprint on the land.

The modern descendants of these first peoples call themselves Tomales Bay Indians, Tamáls. Tamáls have survived Ice Ages, a 500-year-long drought, and rising seas, but it was industrial-strength colonization by Europeans at the turn of the 19th century that proved to be near-fatal. Carrying guns, crucifixes and diseases, the potola-inigo, white people, despoiled Yówa, the land. They installed Western-style property “rights” that liquidated aboriginal presence. In an unrestrained search for profit, they felled oceans of redwood forests, slaughtered bears, wolves and tule elk, and began dairying.

Displacement and starvation propelled Coast Miwoks into virus-infected, Catholic-run plantations to work as slaves and concubines. After the San Francisco and San Rafael  agricultural mission lands were secularized and sold in 1834, Tamáls made their way back home. But Tamál Húye was changed. “Point Reyes became Rancho lands, with huge herds of cattle initiating the destruction of the Native resource base,” the National Park Service wrote in a 2008 report to the National Register of Historic Places.

Making matters worse, after California was awarded statehood in 1850, the U.S. Army and gold- and cattle-crazed vigilantes murdered and terrorized natives by the thousands. Indians were legally classified as subhuman. “Native Americans were denied citizenship, voting rights, and were not allowed to testify in court against white defendants … any [orphaned] Indian up to 18 years old could be assigned to a white family for up to 14 years of labor,” wrote anthropologist Lynn Compas in a 1998 report to the Park Service assessing hundreds of Indigenous archeology sites throughout Point Reyes.

The coves of Tomales Bay offered shelter from the holocaust of Manifest Destiny and institutionalized racism. Some returnee Tamáls, including Harlan’s great-great grandmother, Euphrasia, married non-Indian laborers. And for a century, cove-dwellers raised children, fished, hunted and tended Tamál Húye as best they could under colonial conditions. They worked as cooks and fieldhands for European immigrant ranchers who barb-wired the commons, dammed the streams and polluted beaches as they reshaped Tamál Húye to suit burgeoning beef and dairy industries. Colonial governments outlawed the controlled burning of forests and fields as practiced by the Indigenous for the benefit of all beings.

And yet, despite the destruction of Tamál Húye, and despite the price of being known as Indian in a white-dominated world, many 19th- and 20th-century Tamáls self-identified as Indigenous. They did what they had to do to survive, but they also passed the ancestral ways and traditions on to their children through storytelling.

More than a family saga

Harlan’s mother, Elizabeth, was raised at the cove which is mapped as “Laird’s Landing,” after a butter-and-cheese dealer who ran K Ranch up the hill. Elizabeth’s mother, Bertha Felix Campigli, was born at the cove in 1882 to Joseph and Paulina Felix, both of Tamál ancestry.

Joseph’s parents were Domingo Felix, a Filipino, and Euphrasia Felix, a Coast Miwok who had left Mission Dolores when San Francisco was nothing but “forest and a log house,” she reportedly told a friend. Euphrasia, Domingo and their children had moved to Tomales Bay around 1860 after a Marin County Tax Assessor named James Black bought the Miwok rancheria in Nicasio where they had resided, and expelled the people.

At the cove, generations of Felixes built residences, sheds, gardens and chicken coops and quietly lived off the land. Calvin Coolidge was elected president, and Bertha married her fifth husband, Arnold Campigli, a hunter, farmhand and jack-of-all-trades. Campigli’s Swiss-Italian parents tenanted a dairy ranch near Coast Camp. They disowned him for marrying an Indian, and he did not look back. In 1925, Bertha gave birth to Elizabeth, the youngest of her eight children. With teenagers spilling out of the one-room house, Campigli built a second one-room dwelling. They had no electricity, gas heat or telephone. “We were poor, but not hungry,” Elizabeth said in an oral interview with a Park Service historian.

Theresa Harlan’s grandmother, Bertha Felix Campigli, was born at Laird’s Landing in 1882. Photo courtesy of Theresa Harlan.

Tamáls fought in wars, married, moved to cities and returned to Tomales Bay. After World War II, Elizabeth married John Harlan and they made a home in Napa, where Theresa and her sister, Beverly, were raised. Harlan, of the Kewa Pueblo tribe based in New Mexico, was adopted by Elizabeth and John as an infant, and raised as a Tamál.

After Bertha died in 1949, S.A. Turney, the owner of K Ranch, evicted the Felix family from the cove and put their homestead up for sale. Court records document how the Felix family fought back, providing testimony from community elders that their family had resided at the cove before K Ranch was deeded, which meant they could own it under common law. But because Marin County had never billed the family for property taxes, an appellate court ruled in 1954 that they had to leave. Campigli moved in with daughter Elizabeth in Napa.

Harlan grew up hearing hilarious stories about the hard-easy life. There was Babe, a cow who cow-paddled around Tomales Bay scouting for bulls when in heat. And then there was the afternoon when Elizabeth had finally had it with racial taunting, and beat up a pack of white boys who bullied her. She cherished the memory because the school’s only teacher had defended her against outraged parents, saying that the rancher-kids deserved it.

In the early 1960s, an itinerant artist named Clayton Lewis moved his family into the Felix’s empty houses, with the K Ranch-owner’s blessing. When the Park Service bought the cove in the early 1970s, it allowed Lewis to stay. Treating the land as his private property, he remodeled the houses to suit his “countercultural” tastes. He built a foundry where he fashioned jewelry and sculpture. He threw wild parties. He dug privy and trash pits. Once, he uncovered and displayed a human skull, until giving it to the University of California. “I want the remains returned to my family,” Harlan said.

After Lewis died in 1995, the Park Service allowed the buildings to decay, to become snarled with vines and cracked by tree limbs. As Harlan, Tiger and I peered into the broken houses, we saw tags and cartoons defiling walls. There was a pile of trash and construction rubble on the lawn, left there by the Park Service in 2017 after it demolished the foundry. For Harlan and her family, the trash, graffiti, weeds and jungle of vines desecrate a place inhabited for thousands of years, a place made sacred because people are the land.

On April 2, Kenkel met privately at the cove with Harlan and a dozen of her relatives. Family members took turns speaking about why the place is special. Elder Arlene Delahoussaye, of Daly City, shared, “I think of this place as my true home. And I always bring my children and grandchildren here to picnic.” The family is asking that Laird’s Landing be reinvented as a living cultural center celebrating the Indigenous practices of managing the land for the common good. The superintendent promised to consult with the family on a restoration of the houses, Harlan told me.

Days later, the Park Service hauled away the pile of rotting garbage. The agency assigned a team of youthful carpenters from a national nonprofit to work on restoring the vandal-shattered structures, and there are some signs of progress. 

Harlan has a degree in ethnic studies from Berkeley. She is a professional art curator, and worked as a legislative analyst for the California Department of Public health before retiring last year. Her goal is that all of Point Reyes, the land of the Tamál people, be given over to the ministrations of future-conscious caretakers. Lessons for the healing of Earth are encoded in the human-shaped lands of Tamál Húye, and the ancient guidelines are needed now more than ever. But at the Park Service, politics rules the day.

Playing shell games with historic districts

Since 1976, a series of archeological “reconnaissance” studies commissioned by the Park Service have determined that a combination of natural erosion processes and cattle ranching and park construction activities are destroying the land’s record of Indigenous history. Sonoma State University anthropologists collaborating with the Park Service to monitor the condition of ancient Tamál habitations have repeatedly urged it to protect all of Point Reyes National Seashore as an Indigenous Archeological District on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2008, using more than a decade’s worth of Sonoma State research, the Park Service nominated an Indigenous Archeological District to the Register, which is a division of the Park Service. The proposal languished in bureaucratic limbo for seven years with no action. Meanwhile, in 2013, the Register quickly protected the Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District, which was created to celebrate the 16th century pirate Francis Drake; more on that story below.

Here is the shell game: In 2015, the Park Service withdrew the Indigenous District nomination and replaced it with an application for a Historic Dairy Ranching District to protect 17 spreads. The Register rapidly approved the newly created Dairy Ranching District, even as the Indigenous District proposal was taken off the table.

The anointing of the park’s dairy and cattle ranches as “historic” by the Register serves to prioritize funding the preservation of commercial ranching infrastructure over preserving Indigenous archeology. It creates federal tax credits for ranchers. It is also a key element in the Park Service’s public relations campaign supporting the lease extensions. But, as Harlan observed, the politician- and business-powered campaign for “preserving ranching culture” is predicated on erasing the cultural and scientific significance of 10,000 years of Tamál habitation.

Tsim Schneider is a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also a member of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, whose homeland includes Tamál Húye. Schneider researches the ways in which Coast Miwok people survived existential crises through the millennia. Most importantly, he views research that focuses only on the harm done to Indigenous societies as a tacit form of “taking the accomplishments of the colonial elites for granted.” Coast Miwoks were written out of the anthropology textbooks, he says, with “terminal narratives that reinforce the logic of settler colonialism by eliminating narratives of Indigenous survivance” and an “outdated colonial-Indigenous dichotomy that essentializes landscapes along tidy, racialized boundaries.”

Tomales Bay was a refuge for “Indians unwilling to be converted [to Catholicism]” where Tamáls engaged in “creative cultural resistance, preservation of identity, linking memory and physical surroundings,” Schneider says.

Two related misperceptions about the Coast Miwok have informed scientific research, Schneider says. One is the mistaken idea that the Coast Miwok were extinct by the 1920s. A related error is that science tends to “conflate chronology with identity. It treats ancient people as frozen in time, as fossils trapped in amber.”

Obsessing with pinpointing the dates of a pot, bone, bead or house pit breaks the living link between past, present and future. Focusing on dating and classifying objects compartmentalizes the flow of the human story and fails to reveal the continuity of social systems and of human agency from time immemorial to now.

Speaking as a Coast Miwok, Schneider says, “Our knowledge of these places, our memories of these places, have always been secondary to science. There is a saying among Indians that archeologists borrow our watches to tell us the time.”

Schneider tells the story of an archeologist digging at Laird’s Landing in 1934. The scientist “recorded ‘broken mortars’ and ‘a good specimen of a spear head’ in the artifact description, while casually mentioning that an ‘Indian woman, [Bertha] Campigli, has lived on this site for many years.’” It did not occur to the man that it was the living woman’s ancestors who fashioned the spearhead and hunted with it, who processed meal with the mortar and who lived for thousands of years in relatively stable societies. “The presence of Harlan’s grandmother was a living sign that Tamals stayed on ancestral lands because the people are the land,” Schneider says. Tamáls were not eager to assimilate into an alien, racialized society. They knew their ancestors had created the once-vibrant ecology of Tamál Húye, and hoped those lessons would not be forever lost. Today, Harlan stands in the place of her grandmother.

After demolishing a foundry in 2017, the National Park Service left piles of trash and construction rubble on the lawn of the Felix homes at Laird’s Landing. The trash was finally removed last month. Photo by Peter Byrne.

The trail of the dead

The first archeologists to explore Tamál Húye envisioned the story told by the land through the thick lens of settler colonialism. They assumed nothing of much importance happened to the people whom they named Coast Miwok until 1579, when Drake supposedly “discovered” Punta de los Reyes, Point of the Kings. It turns out that decades of Drake-obsessed archeological research at Point Reyes was based upon a lie.

In 1936, the social club E Clampus Vitus claimed to have found a 16th-century “Plate of Brass” near Drakes Breach. “Despite initial authentication, the plate was ultimately determined to be a hoax, a prank … For at least two decades, however, belief in the plate’s authenticity perpetuated nearly exhaustive excavation at Point Reyes in search of Drake’s campsite and other evidence of his stay,” the Park Service reported to the Register.

The settler-colonial mindset still prevails at the Park Service. The agency claims that the Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District is deserving of the Register recognition it rendered in 2013, because Sir Francis Drake “strengthened England as a maritime power and gave England a stake in western North America,” and the District “includes 15 California Indian sites that provide material evidence of one of the earliest instances of European contact and interaction with native peoples on the west coast of the United States.”

In the 1920s, University of California, Berkeley archeologist Alfred Kroeber declared the Coast Miwok were no more. That erroneous assumption guided his doctoral students, James Beardsley and Robert Heizer, during the 1940s, as they shoveled shell mounds all over Point Reyes looking for artifactual evidence of Drake’s passage. The scientists unearthed 122 human skeletons and hundreds of charm stones, beads, knives, arrowheads, awls, whistles, mortars and pestles fashioned by ancient human hands. Many of the grave-related artifacts are still stored at the Phoebe Hearst Museum in Berkeley.

For the Berkeley anthropologists, the real treasures were the non-Indian artifacts found mixed with human remains—shards of blown glass, spent cartridge shells and fragments of blue-and-white Ming china. They theorized that because the Indigenous people were unable to comprehend European technology, they had repurposed shattered china as cutting tools, iron spikes as awls and glass as ornament. The 16th-century inhabitants of Tamál Húye may very well have been awed, perplexed and even frightened by machine technologies foreign to their world. But it was a culture-laden mistake for scientists to presume that Indigenous people were not capable of taking an active role in the history of the world until they absorbed the miracles of the West.

Only recently has it occurred to anthropologists that the Indigenous were potent scientists, keenly observant of the forces connecting trees, rocks, fire, water, plants, animals, life and death. In the early 1930s, an observant ethnographer named Isabel Kelly recorded Coast Miwok elders speaking of ancient technologies and beliefs. Tom Smith and Maria Copa spoke of where, at Tamál Húye, “a place of rock about two feet long marks the spot where the dead jump into the ocean. They go down there. They said that was the trail of the dead. Over the land they traveled on a cloud path. They go there to be with Coyote where the sun goes down. They never come back—maybe in night time.”

Maybe in night time

Laws and ethical codes guiding 21st-century archeology recognize that the bodily remains and belongings of Indigenous people must remain undisturbed. Government agencies are urged to accept tribal leadership in all matters that are principally Indigenous. In short, Tamál Húye is not the property of the Park Service, just as it was not the property of European settlers. And yet, the Park Service has long acted as if it is the indisputable lord of hundreds of Indigenous villages, food-processing camps, rock shelters, house pits, hunting blinds and lithic scatters endemic to the 71,000-acre Seashore. It acts as if preserving the archeological story is compatible with dairy and cattle ranching, which is demonstrably not the case.

The aforementioned Environmental Impact Statement strongly prioritizes protection of ranch history over preserving Indigenous archeology. While confirming that cattle have been and continue to disturb “sensitive” archeology sites, the statement promises, in the future, to “take measures … to exclude cattle.” However, it will allow “targeted” grazing at known locations, and unrestrained grazing on the many that are undoubtedly unknown, and therefore, subject to inadvertent destruction.

Kevin Lunny’s family has run cattle on a ranch overlooking Abbotts Lagoon since World War II. Lunny told the Pacific Sun that obsidian flakes are abundant on lagoon beaches, but his cattle are fenced off. He said it is possible that cattle may be damaging archeological sites on other ranches. “Ranchers are willing to work with the Park Service and the Graton tribe to protect Indigenous sites,” Lunny said.

The Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria represent the Miwok and Pomo peoples of Sonoma and Marin Counties and Point Reyes. According to Chairman Greg Sarris, the tribe is negotiating a confidential agreement with the Park Service to protect archeological sites.

But last year, the Park Service failed to consult with the Graton tribe, as it is required to do by law, when it released the Environmental Impact Statement calling for extending cattle operations in perpetuity.

In December, the tribe informed the Park Service of the oversight. The tribe wrote, “We are disappointed that the National Park Service did not reach out to us and provide an opportunity for our Tribe to consult with the agency, as is required under Executive Order 13175.” The tribe continued, “We need to revisit the ranching lease program and look for ways that enable the landscape to heal. This should be done with the Tribe and using our traditional ecological knowledge and understanding of the land.”

Cattle trample Indigenous history

Federal laws require the Park Service to protect Indigenous archeological sites. By the agency’s self-assessments it is failing to do that at Point Reyes. Documents obtained by the Pacific Sun under the California Public Records Act reveal that many Indigenous archeological sites inside park boundaries have long been violated by ranching and the construction of roads, trails and facilities serving tourists.

In the 1990s, the Park Service began working with anthropologists based at Sonoma State University to engineer a preservation plan for more than 150 Indigenous sites. The resultant field work formed the scientific underpinning of the Park Service’s later withdrawn nomination of the Indigenous Archeological District.

In 1998, Sonoma State graduate student Lynn Compas reported that many of the Indigenous sites were damaged by “ranching, visitors, and construction. … [C]attle grazing causes damage to archeological sites. … [R]emains may be obliterated or obscured.” She observed that the Park Service could prevent further destruction by “extensive cattle grazing” by curtailing ranching activities. Realistically, though, she mused, “Ranching is a source of revenue for [the Park Service] and will continue, therefore impacts to archeological sites from cattle must be evaluated before more archeological data is lost.”

Compas reported that while the Park Service substantially funded the preservation of settler-era ranching culture, there was little or no funding for preservation of Indigenous culture. She said that the stories revealed at the Indigenous sites are important because, “One of the dominant paradigms of the past has been that ‘interactions between Native Americans and Europeans were governed and structured by European objectives and that the role of Native peoples was passive and easily explained.’” She observed that a core group of Tamáls had resisted colonization and survived at Tamál Húye through the generations, physically, spiritually and culturally.

Uniting the past and present, Compas noted that at Laird’s Landing “the buildings and the archeological site are in good condition. … The mixture of artifacts demonstrates that the Coast Miwok strategically retained traditional lifeways while accepting new ones in order to survive.”

Compas identified Tamál families who in the early 20th century resided in the Tomales Bay coves: Ouse, Alcantra, Campigli, Sandoval, Jewell, Felix, Friase, Elgin, Sanchez, Goosman, Zopie and Weber. She reported archeological evidence that the coves were homesteaded for thousands of years, and that sites with prehistoric human remains were disturbed or vandalized by campers, and that “a request for funding to remove the burials to a safer place was made by PRNS in 1997, however the funding request was denied.”

Compas suggested that money for protecting the Indigenous sites would be forthcoming if the sites were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Subsequently, Sonoma State graduate student, Barbra Polansky, conducted “the inventory, research, and analysis necessary to nominate the PRNS Prehistoric Archeological District.” The proposed district encompassed the entire acreage of the park “in the hopes that [the site’s] significance and tremendous research potential may be recognized.”

Polansky defined patterns of how Coast Miwok adapted to climate and social stresses by “exploiting the richest area of resources that require the least amount of energy.”

She researched how the Tamáls used plants, game and shellfish to sustain large populations at Tomales Bay, Drakes Estuary and Abbotts Lagoon. Ducks, sandpipers and mud hens were lured by decoys stuffed with grass, and then trapped with nets. Hunters felled birds on the fly with bolas made of string-wrapped heavy bones. Owls were downed with bow and arrow. “Miwok did not generally eat bears, because a bear was considered to be a person.”

Polansky cautioned, “Cattle grazing and current and historic ranching activities can mix the soil or midden deposit and obscure features such as house pits.” She noted, “PRNS is one of the finest, most intact examples of California Coast archeology,” and even though the sites are threatened by “cattle grazing, plowing and past archeological excavations. There is still much information to be gained.”

Building on Compas’ and Polansky’s research, a bevy of Sonoma State professors led by Suzanne Stewart contracted with the Park Service during the aughts to craft a formal application for an Indigenous Archeology District. According to Stewart, “By about 10,000 years ago, California’s Paleo-Coast peoples were traveling in seaworthy boats, using fish hooks and other fishing tackle, hunting marine mammals and sea birds, weaving cordage and basketry from sea grass, and making shell beads for ornamental use and exchange with interior peoples.” She detailed the existence of four large villages and more than 100 sites, one-third with “human skeletal remains, some with moderate to abundant grave goods … the sheer size and relative wealth of [village] site constituents suggest a focus of activity—perhaps serving as a ceremonial and political center for the locality.”

Stewart called for examining ancient plant and animal remains to learn from responses to extreme climate variations by prehistoric populations. She lamented, however, that at fragile archeological sites, “non-native, domestic range animals have … exacerbated erosion [of sites] by over-grazing and trampling.”

Decades of research shows that the Coast Miwok’s non-patriarchal social system encircled Tomales Bay and spread throughout the Point Reyes peninsula. There were large villages at the mouth of the Bay and at Olompali. Drakes Estuary was basically a larder. The largely peaceful Tamál economy was collectivized, with limited, family-oriented property rights to defined food-bearing areas. But, mostly, they strove to co-exist with Yówa and all of Coyote’s creations, adapting to environmental stresses by intelligently managing energy resources in ways we are at risk of forgetting.

TheresaHarlan’s family is asking that Laird’s Landing be reinvented as a living cultural center celebrating the Indigenous practices of managing the land for the common good. Photo by Jocelyn Knight.

Autopsy of the Indigenous District

In California, nominations to the Register must be approved by the state Office of Historic Preservation. On May 12, 2008, the Office acknowledged receipt of the Indigenous Archeological District application and promised to review it. And then, nothing.

Until March 5, 2015, when the Office returned the nomination to the Park Service, “with brief comments to inform a future resubmittal.” The Park Service did not resubmit it.

In fact, “The Park Service withdrew the nomination,” Julianne Polanco, State Historic Preservation Officer, told the Pacific Sun. Why?

In Harlan’s opinion, “The Park Service pulled the Indigenous Archaeological District nomination because the protections of a historic place listing would interfere with rancher interests. The Park would be forced to re-direct resources to tell the story of 10,000 years of Coast Miwok land stewardship, thereby diminishing the 150 year rancher history.”

Case in point: the park’s website falsely asserts, “The dairy and cattle ranches on Point Reyes peninsula represent the single largest cultural landscape.” In fact, the Indigenous landscape is more than three times the area of the ranching district. Indigenous culture is vastly older and more venerable than the capitalist byproducts of imperial Christianity.

Even as it aborted the Indigenous district in 2015, the Park Service asked the state to sign off on the demolition of all of the buildings at Laird’s Landing as unsafe. The preservation officer forbade the demolition of the Coast Miwok houses. But instead of moving to preserve Laird’s Landing as an example of thousands of years of continuous Indigenous presence, the Park Service incorporated the Felix buildings into the historic ranching district nomination, “as a reflection of how native populations adapted to European cultural ideals and practices and for its association with the history of tenant laborers.”

Looking towards the future, the Graton Rancheria released its Tribal Perspective on Climate Change in 2013. The tribe speaks of the hundreds of sacred sites throughout the park that are threatened by erosion and submergence as the seas rise again. “In the traditional and historical cultural order, the destruction of cultural resources occurred and this loss was permitted because the spirits in nature have power over them. Now, natural climate change and its effects cannot be separated from … pollution from modern life and industry.” Human action is required if Tamál Húye is to heal from human action.

And the dead abide.

Craig Kenkel and Point Reyes National Seashore staff did not respond to multiple calls and emails requesting comment on the facts presented in this story.

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Peter Byrnehttps://www.peterbyrne.info/
Northern California-based journalist Peter Byrne combines investigative reporting with science writing. He has received national, regional, and local recognition for investigative work, writing style, and in-depth profiles of politicians, grifters, grafters, and… artists. Read his past work at www.peterbyrne.info.
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