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California Tribes Peacefully Take Control of MLPA Taskforce Meeting

by on July 24, 2010
 

A brief statement from Georgiana Myers, a Yurok citizen and spokesperson for the Klamath Justice Coalition, delivered on July 21, 2010, after more than 300 people from 50 Indigenous Nations took control of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in California. Klamath Media reports.

California Tribes stand together to protect rights at MLPA Meeting, Fort Bragg CA

More than 50 tribal nations peacefully took control of the Marine Life Protection Act’s Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in California Wednesday. Their message: The state will no longer impose its will on indigenous people.

“This is about more than a fouled-up process that attempts to prohibit tribes from doing something they have done sustainably for thousands of years,” said Frankie Joe Myers, a Yurok tribal citizen and organizer for the Coastal Justice Coalition. “It is about respect,acknowledgement and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights.”

The group of more than 300 met up at 11a.m. on the Main Street of Fort Bragg, CA. and hiked up a half mile to the C.V. Star Community Center with a unified voice that pulsed: M-L-P-A Taking Tribal Rights Away! Just before heading into the meeting tribal community members standing twenty deep chanted “No Way M.L.P.A.!” to the Blue Ribbon Task Force Members waiting inside.

“The Blue Ribbon Task Force had given us no indication that they were listening to North Coast Tribes’ call to respect our sovereignty,” Dania Rose Colegrove, a Hoopa tribal citizen. “We felt that we needed show them a small symbol of what we are willing to do to pass on our culture to future generations.”

The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative is a public and privately funded partnership between the State of California and a few deep-pocketed foundations — chiefly the Resources Legacy Fund to — implement the Marine Life Protection Act, which was signed into law in 1999. That Act calls for the creation of marine reserves with varying levels of protection from one end of the state to the other. The Blue Ribbon Task Force is charged with making recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission of where to put the protected areas. To date, the Task Force has said it will view traditional tribal gathers in the same light as recreational fishermen, which is largely offensive to tribal people.

Citizens from tribal nations as far away as the Choktaw Nation attended the meeting to stand in solidarity with the North California Tribes. Many pointed out the absurdity and pain caused by asking Native Americans to give something else.

“Whether it is their intention or not, what the Marine Life Protection Act does to tribes is it systematically decimates our ability to be who we are,” Myers said. “That is the definition cultural genocide.”

Coastal indigenous people collect mussels, seaweed and other ocean resources for sustenance and ceremonial regalia. All of these resources were abundant until Europeans commercialized them.

“We should have had better immigration laws,” tribal citizen and Air Force Veteran Wally Obie told the Blue Ribbon Task Force. “That’s not funny.”

This is the second time indigenous Californian’s have halted Marine Life Protection Act Initiative meeting. On June 29, a smaller group interrupted the MLPAI’s Science Advisory Team meeting in Eureka. Members of the Coastal Justice Coalition pointed out that there is no scientific data that says tribal gathering has any negative impact on the coastal ecosystem and the Act does nothing to stop pollution and off-shore drilling — the real threats to the ocean’s productivity.

The Coastal Justice Coalition is a group of concerned tribal citizens and community members who came together to make sure indigenous peoples’ right to gather on the coast is respected.

Media Contacts: Georgiana Myers, Coastal Justice Coalition: (707) 951-5548, sregonlady@yahoo.com — Frankie Myers, Klamath Justice Coalition: (707) 951-5052, frankiemyers@hotmail.com

For background and more information, please visit klamathjustice.blogspot.com

 
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  • dollie
    July 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    There is a saying,’ don’t try to fix it if it isn’t broken’. The members of the task force perhaps have not heard that saying. Tribes lived on this land for thousands of years without the pollution and damage to mother earth that exist now. I stand with the indignenous people who are protesting against those who seem to think they know better than mother nature of how to treat the land, forests, and rivers….. dollie.

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  • Thunderspirit
    July 25, 2010 at 3:06 am

    I too stand firmly with you my people in the Americas,i pray you get what it is you wish.I will be monitoring this situation closely and pray for a peaceful resolution.

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  • July 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    It’s over three hundred miles north from the Golden Gate to Klamath, and although salmon transit San Francisco Bay, it’s only when one reaches the deep redwood forests of Yurok territory that there is a visible indigenous presence and sense of wild continuity. I imagine this is partly responsible for the durability of environmental and indigenous coalitions doing battle with the state and federal agencies lined up against them. In some respects, this reminds me of the fragile but effective affinities that fought the provincial and federal governments on the west side of Vancouver Island. The level of activist commitment seems commensurate with the scale of resources at risk, although this may have as much to do with identity and imagination as it does with other values.

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  • robert grumpy bear
    July 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Its the same old story world wide. The thinking process is a taught crazy way. Its where my truth becomes law because I am bigger,have more force & you will comply.There is no truth in that.Nature suffers & we are also nature who suffer. So together we all suffer in one way or another, lots of money or not. In solidarity there is division, check your ranks & you will find it. Nature is not divided against itself . it cannot be nature if it is. All flows. All of life is a great circle & we stand in the center of that circle receiving life from nature but mainly Great Spirit who creates all. Brains are computers with programs, bodys need to be fed. Spirit is greater than both & that is who we are. All division is against Spirit which is our true nature. Spirit is the river of life that flows through all creation. Feel it now. Let it guide you, no one can take it from you, it is always there & always will be. Let this be our blessing for now & always.
    robert grumpy bear

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