The Pinoleville Pomo Nation, a Sovereign Nation in Mendocino County, Ca, runs its business operations from Ukiah, California and derives most of its revenue from its casino operations. Recently the Obama administration gave clearance for Indian Tribes to decide Marijuana Laws on their reservations, rancherias and trust lands. The tribe had plans to set up a $10 million Commercial Medical Marijuana farm that would span over 110,000 square feet and consist of a number of marijuana greenhouses which would be responsible for supplying medical marijuana to a High Tech Company which makes Medical Marijuana Tinctures and Medicines for Medical Marijuana Patients Suffering from a range of serious health ailments. The tribe has already put over $350,000 into our local economy generating over $21,000 in sales tax.
The tribe had earlier decided to partner with an investment company based in Kansas who was willing to finance the project which was to be set up towards the north of Ukiah on the tribe’s rancheria. The tribe kick-started the project earlier this week but has decided to cut back on the scale of the project for now and start small.
The tribe has already created a non-profit organization that will be responsible for the medical marijuana project. The operation will be broken down into cultivating twenty five plans on each parcel of land spread throughout the ninety nine acre rancheria. Mike Canales who heads the business board of the tribe will be responsible for overseeing the project and wants to keep things small during the initial stages of the project to ensure that they stay well within the law and do not draw any un-necessary attention from the authorities.
The tribe also has the option of further expanding its marijuana project and using an additional 100 acres which is located close to a residential sub-division on Laws Avenue in downtown Ukiah. Although the tribe owns this land, and has the Sovereign Right to cultivate on their trust lands, the tribe has promised neighboring Ukiah residents that it will not use this portion of the land for marijuana cultivation.
The land where a garden currently is being constructed is not held in federal trust — which typically is exempt from local regulations — and the sheriff contends the tribe is limited to the same 25-plants-per-parcel maximum as everyone else in the county. Canales contends that, as a sovereign nation, the tribe is not subject to the county’s regulations and said the tribe may test the limits.
Despite the disagreement, Canales described his relationship with Allman as “cordial.” But he’s also said the tribe is ready to litigate the issue if need be.
Meanwhile, an estimated 100 baglike containers used to cultivate pot plants have cropped up on two adjacent parcels on the northeast corner of the rancheria along Highway 101.
Voters in California are expected to have the final say on the legalization of medical marijuana or recreational pot during 2016 and many believe that it is just a matter of time before the law is changed. There are also a number of other states in the nation who are also debating the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana and if they decide to permit medical marijuana it could create a massive market for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, especially Marijuana Medicines like the medicines the High Tech Company makes which plans to work with the Pinoleville Pomo Tribe. This could bring great jobs and revenues to the Pinoleville Nation.
A number of tribes all over the nation want to capitalize on this potential medical marijuana market and develop another lucrative way of generating income. Tribes are currently making plans and looking for financial partners who will help them set up these massive medical marijuana farms on their reservations and help them be prepared to produce massive volumes of marijuana should the need arise.
The Pinoleville Pomo Nation wants to be cautious though as the tribe is still not clear what the law allows and does not allow when it comes to the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana. Canales recently met with Tom Allman, who is the Sheriff of Mendocino County but at the end of their discussion, both parties were unable to determine what is permitted and not permitted under law as of now.
The biggest dispute right now is based on the number of plans per parcel that is allowed in California. The Sheriff states that the tribe must abide as per the rules of 25 plans per parcel just like everyone else in the county but Canales disagrees with the stipulation stating that the tribe is a sovereign nation and does not have to follow the law set by the county, as the federally recognized Pinoleville Nation is a Sovereign Nation inside Mendocino County, the Sheriff has no more legal jurisdiction over the tribe then he does over neighboring Humboldt or Sonoma Counties. However for the time being Canales has agreed to go with 25 plants per parcel but plans to increase those numbers once he gets more clarification on the law.
The tribe has also confirmed that it has plans to construct a medical marijuana dispensary that will allow them to fill prescriptions that require pot-based pills and edibles.
No Mention of the Pomo Indians Current Struggle would be complete without a look at History and how the Rancherias came to be. Below is some history of the Mendocino Genocide which occured throughout Mendocino County in the 1800’s.
The Willits – Little Lake Valley was called Mitomkai meaning big valley, mato = big + kai valley, by the Mitomkai Pomo Indian Tribelets which lived and claimed the Little Lake Valley as their home for thousands of years. The heavily populated Valley supported a population of over 4,000 in ancient times, the Mitomkai Pomo indians lived on the high ground around the Valley. The largest of the Villages, called “mato” or “Big” was situated at the site of present day Willits, on the top of the Hill between Coast Street and Mill Street, there is still the large oak tree which is judged to be around 300 years old standing on this hill today. The Mitomkai Pomo practiced a hunter gatherer life dominated by collection of prairie seeds from the Valley which the Indians cultivated by burning the fields and Meadows in spring and spreading the seeds which were gathered in the fall the year before.
The seeds were gathered as they ripened using a long cylindrical basket and a “beating basket” which was used to thresh the seeds into the larger basket. Acorns were gathered in the Fall and stored in winter granaries which kept the acorns fresh and out of the reach of pests.
Salmon were harvested in the fall around November and December as Chinook King Salmon and Coho Salmon as well as trout and Steelhead made their annual migrations. The Mitomkai Pomo Territory Extended to the Coast where the Mitomkai Pomo claimed a Village at Big River in Mendocino called Buldam. The Ancient Indian trail to the Coast followed the modern day Willits – Fortbragg Road except the Indian Trails were on the ridgetops. At the Mouth of Big River, at a Village called Buldam by the Mitomkai Pomo Indians, the Indians collected seaweeds, Mussels and Abalone as well as fished the many different Species of Freshwater Fish including Salmon and Steelhead from Big River. Fish, mollusks including mussels and abalone as well as seaweed were dried on the ridge tops above the fog bank on the coast where they kept their villages safe from passing boats canoes and kayaks. The Indians used all sorts of Canoes up and down the California Coast from the Chumash in Santa Barbara to the Yurok of Humboldt County. The Ocean was used as a highway for trade. Many trading spots were found along the Mendocino Coast, from Big River to Mussel Rock. Many tribes from all over the California Coast would gather at Mussel Rock North of Ten Mile River. There on the large hill overlooking Mussel Rock and the Pacific Ocean was a Village called Lilem where high on the overlooking hill was a Subterranean Sweat house Capable of holding 200 people or more for religious ceremony. The many shellmounds as well as midden piles along the Mendocino Coast are testament to the ancient land claims to ancient fishing grounds.
Little Lake, Mitomkai Valley hosted large herds of deer and elk as well as large populations of Grizzly Bear and Mountain Lions before the coming of foreign settlers. Many of the Mitomkai Pomo people were rounded up on the Coast as they made their yearly trips to the coast sometime around the year 1855. In 1855 an exploration party from the Bureau of Indian Affairs visited the area looking for a site on which to establish a reservation and, in the spring of 1856, the Mendocino Indian Reservation was established at Noyo. In the summer of 1857, First Lieutenant Horatio G. Gibson, then serving at the Presidio of San Francisco, was ordered to take Company M, 3rd Regiment of Artillery to establish a military post one and one-half miles north of the Noyo River on the Mendocino Indian Reservation. The official date of the establishment of Fort Bragg was June 11, 1857. Its purpose was to maintain order on the reservation, and protect the Indians and reservation lands from settlers. Many Mitomakai Pomo People would never return from their yearly fishing trip to the coast. Instead they were “rounded up” like cattle by cowboys on horses and marched to Fort Bragg, then the headquarters of the Mendocino Indian Reservation. At the reservation the indians faced starvation, disease as well as the kidknapping and rape of their women and children. Other groups which ran away from the Reservation were hunted down by groups and Militias of State Sanctioned and State Paid “Volunteers” such as William Jarboes “Eel River Rangers”.
As more settlers encroached on Little Lake Valley and Mendocino County, Indian hunting grounds were ruined by the hooves of Settlers Cattle which ate the Indians grasses and clovers. Settlers killed the Elk and Deer which had been so carefully manged for millennia. Starving Displaced Indians soon turned to killing livestock and cattle to survive. White Settlers retaliated by raiding indian villages during the early morning hours and killing every man woman and child to be found. Soon, every loss of animal was blamed on the Indians despite the fact the County hosted a very large population of Mountain Lions and Grizzly Bears who have been found to be the main culprits behind the missing game. In the meantime the Mitomkai Pomo indians were blamed, the Mitomkai were rounded up or killed. Many Children were sold to Ranchers in the Sacramento Valley where they fetched up to a $100 for a girl.
Genocide of the Mitomkai and Mendocino Indian Tribes “The Mendocino War” Round Valley, located in northeastern Mendocino County in Northern California, was home to various Native American tribes. The most populous of these local tribes were the Yuki, whose territory was roughly 1,100 square miles. The Yuki were not one political people; rather, they were several autonomous groups that shared both language and culture, with each community having its own leadership. In 1853, California started its Indian Reservation System, which was headed by Thomas J. Henley (Superintendent of Indian Affairs), and by 1854 Round Valley was discovered by white settlers. Frank Asbill, the first white man to see the territory, estimated that there were about 20,000 natives in the area at the time. Scholars now believe this number is a little high, but by 1856, there were 12,000 Native Americans in Round Valley. Although a few families moved into native territory, many of the settlers were hunters, fugitives, drifters, and the like. In general, they were people who lived off of the land, who traveled to the area for its resources. In the same year, Thomas Henley sent Simmon Pena Storms to start the Nome Cult Farm. Originally meant to be a resting point for natives and people traveling to the Mendocino Reservation, the Nome Cult Farm grew to become a reservation of its own, occupying 5,000 acres of northern Round Valley. This division of the 20,000 acre territory left over 15,000 acres for white settlement. Members of the Yuki tribe on the Nome Cult Farm (c.1858) Seeds of conflict Despite the amount of land set aside for white settlement, the government had trouble stopping newcomers from settling all over the valley, including on the Nome Cult Farm and Mendocino Reservation. As settlers moved into what was designated native territory, it became hard for the natives to survive. Those that lived on the Nome Cult Farm lived a life of hardship. In a type of indentured servitude, the natives raised their crops but reaped little of the actual benefits. Natives were not protected but were subject to brutal treatment that included assaults, rape, murder, theft of their property, disease, and starvation. Many white settlers who encroached on native territory engaged in kidnapping, stealing Native women and children and subjugating them to servitude or sexual abuse. Natives at the Nome Cult Farm were overworked, and could even be killed if their work was not up to the standards of the reservation. White settlers continued to exploit native land, with many families fencing in thousands of acres each. They removed fences from the Nome Cult Farm and allowed their herds to graze on and through native land, some of which was already filled with crops. The California Reservation System, which was subject to corruption, fraud and misuse of federal funds, provided little recourse. As more settlers encroached on native land and resources, native food sources dried up on and around the reservations. Escalation Since ranching methods at the time were not very advanced (barbed wire had not been invented), the settlers had trouble keeping their livestock on their land. Many tried to train their animals to stay in a certain area, but this was not always effective. Livestock often wandered, and the local terrain made matters worse. The territory was new, unfamiliar, and full of hazardous cliffs and predators, and many cattle and horses wandered off and died of natural causes. However, the settlers blamed the natives for any animal that went missing, believing that they were the targets of “Indian Depredations”, holding public meetings to stir up animosity towards the natives. In retaliation, they continued their assaults on native land and resources. With no police force at hand, the reservation was powerless to stop local theft of native property or abductions of native people. Locals like Dryden Lacock even stated that settlers, including himself, were engaging in small raiding parties that killed “50-60 Indians a trip”. Finally, on the brink of starvation and left with almost no options, the natives began to retaliate. In 1857 a Yuki shot a man named William Mantle while trying to cross the Eel River, and in 1858 a white man named John McDaniel was murdered. Both had been famous for crimes committed against Native Americans, and reports from the U.S. Army claim that the natives were provoked in both instances. State and federal involvement Seal of the natives of Round Valley As tensions rose and natives began retaliating for crimes committed against them, the settlers petitioned the U.S. Army for aid. In 1859 the 6th U.S. infantry led by Major Edward Johnson was called to Round Valley. Major Johnson sent Lieutenant Edward Dillon ahead with 17 men to scout the area and assess the situation. Lieutenant Dillon reported back that the settlers misrepresented the situation. Instead of settlers falling prey to natives, the settlers had in fact already killed hundreds of natives, whose hostile actions had been taken out of revenge or in an effort to survive. The problem, he reported, went all the way up the chain to Supt. Henley, who had been involved in organizing many of these raiding parties. In fact, Supt. Henley was in league with Judge Serranus C. Hastings (a former Iowa Supreme Court Justice), who helped him design plans for the removal of natives from the local territory. As part of their plan, they launched raiding parties and held town-hall style public gatherings where settlers aired their grievances, leading to increased racial prejudice and hatred towards the natives. Judge Hastings was also involved in real estate and livestock trade, and in one instance, the natives stole Judge Hastings’s $2,000 stallion in retaliation for the beatings they received at the hands of Judge Hastings’s ranch manager, H.L. Hall. Hall had been involved in many brutal assaults on natives. He complained to Lieutenant Dillon that the natives were stealing white supplies. Dillon urged Hall to let him handle the situation, but Hall ignored the command and took his own men raiding. By March 23, 1859, Hall and his men had killed about 240 natives. Dillon reported that Hall did not distinguish between guilty natives or innocent ones, and that his murders of even women and children were unprovoked. In fact, later on when Hall asked for soldiers at his property to protect his livestock, the soldiers refused to do anything to help him, since they were only ordered to defend a native onslaught, and they did not believe what was happening resembled a native attack. The natives faced a choice of either starving to death on the reservations that provided them with no food, or venturing off into the mountainous regions of Mendocino County and risk slaughter by local settlers.
Walter S. Jarboe and the Mendocino War As the conflict reached a boiling point, Judge Hastings made the executive decision to fire Hall and move all of the remaining natives to the Mendocino Reservation, more to save his property than for the protection of the natives. In June 1859 the “Citizens of Nome Cult Valley”, a group of 39 settlers from Round Valley, petitioned the governor of California, Governor John B. Weller, for help in protecting the settlers from native attacks. This petition, promoted and pushed for by Henley and Judge Hastings, was one of more than a dozen letters and petitions that the white settlers of Round Valley sent to the governor requesting government funding for volunteers who sought to protect white property. Within these petitions, the settlers stated their intentions to remove the natives from Mendocino through a “war of extermination”. Weller turned to the Army for advice on the petition, seeking to know whether or not the allegations of the settlers were true, since the petitions alleged that over $40,000 in property damages had occurred and over 70 whites had been slain by natives. The petitions also requested that Walter S. Jarboe, a Mendocino County resident, be assigned captain of this group. In 1858, Jarboe had been a leader on a raid in the Mendocino Reservation that killed over 60 natives. Countering the petitioners’ claims, Major Johnson and Lieutenant Dillon issued reports telling a different story, claiming that only 2 whites and about 600 native had been killed in the past year. In the meantime, Hastings had grown tired of waiting, and created a new company anyway, without federal funding, with Jarboe as captain. The company was often referred to as the Eel River Rangers, and Hastings and Henley promised to provide the funding (they later went back on this promise, forcing the state to pay for Jarboe and his men). From July 1859 to January 1860, Jarboe and his men ravaged native lands and massacred many natives. Claiming that the natives were guilty of theft and violence, Jarboe and his men engaged in an “ethnic cleansing genocide”. Trying to justify his actions, Jarboe and his men used carcasses from plundered villages to try and give evidence for native thievery. It was a shoot-first, ask-questions-later approach that gave Jarboe and his men the powers of “judge, jury, and executioner”. From July through the middle of August, Jarboe and his men had already killed at least 50 men, women, and children, prompting Major Johnson to write to Governor Weller. The governor wrote to Jarboe several times, sanctioning the raids, but asking Jarboe to leave out women and children and any innocent natives. Jarboe largely ignored these letters. Through October Jarboe and his men continued to rampage through the countryside, killing and capturing natives. Those natives they captured were sent to the Mendocino Reservation and the Nome Cult Farm. On February 18, 1860, Jarboe summarized his record, claiming that in 23 engagements, he and his men killed 283 warriors, captured 292 prisoners, while only sustaining 5 casualties themselves. The bill to the state for their five months of service was $11,143.43. However, scholars now believe that the number of native casualties was grossly understated, as was the cost to the state. New California Governor John G. Downey now inherited the massive debts incurred by Jarboe and the settlers’ raids, debts that the state could not afford to pay. Damage done to Yuki and other tribal cultures was incalculable. The public reception of the conflict was mixed. A newly created Joint Special Committee on the Mendocino Indian War (also called the Select Committee on Indian Affairs) heard testimony from local settlers. The evidence was contradictory, with stories differing from each account, but some things remained consistent. Jarboe claimed that his actions were provoked by citing numbers of whites killed, but Dillon’s reports contradicted those statements. Dillon wrote to his superiors that white settlers were at fault for the entire conflict, and that the locals had funded the slaughter. Many settlers claimed that the natives began the trouble by stealing cattle, while others testified that natives were allowed to eat the cattle and horses that strayed and died of natural causes. Nevertheless, a general consensus emerged that the settlers wanted the natives off of their land and used any means necessary to force them out, including blaming natives for stealing livestock. The investigation concluded that no war had actually occurred in Mendocino County, since the slaughter of natives who offered little resistance and launched no counterattacks could not be considered a war. Rather, the conflict could be more correctly labeled as massacre, and later on historians began calling it a genocide. The committee also recommended some laws to help protect California Indians in the future, but none of them were ever put into place.
Between the time people settled in Mendocino County and the end of the ‘war’ (1856-1860), the population of Indians decreased by 80%. The rest were relegated to the Mendocino Reservation and the Nome Cult Farm. In the late 1880s, tensions left unresolved from this conflict would lead to the Round Valley War when, in defiance of federal authority, settlers once again began to take over areas of the reservation, ignoring federal policies and settling on Yuki lands. The natives were left facing major challenges. Working against them were hunger, unequal weapons, repeated and surprise attacks, their vulnerable position on reservations, and their lack of ability to speak on their own behalf. Jarboe’s forces also alienated some white settlers, slaughtering their livestock if they refused to give them food or the necessary supplies. However, most of the damage was done to the natives and was especially deadly given the timing. With winter around the corner, the natives had spent months preparing and harvesting crops. Now, with raids, the men who farmed and hunted and the women who gathered and made the food were killed, and native stores of winter supplies were plundered and lost. Jarboe and his men meanwhile continued their raiding and killing through the winter with the goal of removing the natives completely from Round Valley. Some settlers also decided to assist in this cause, with ranchers leading attacks and raiding parties of their own. In one 22-day period, 40 ranchers killed at least 150 natives. Finally, on January 3, 1860, Governor Weller disbanded Jarboe’s group. The public swiftly opposed this decision, petitioning Governor Weller to reinstate the Eel River Rangers, but the protest was unsuccessful.
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