Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
Richard Myers, Yurok
KLAMATH, CALIFORNIA - American Indians in Northern California have harvested marine items used for ceremonial purposes for centuries. Among the items are seaweed that is harvested to be eaten during times of fasting and shells from mussels used to make ceremonial necklaces.
So when the State of California's Marine Life Protection Act was released and did not include provisions for California's American Indian tribes to harvest their marine items used for ceremonial purposes, the Yurok Tribe, based in Klamath, California, decided to have their tribal members go to various different beaches along a 120-mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean in northern California and gather these items.
Tribal officials are taking the stance that the State of California's park system does not recognize the rights of indigenous tribes who depend on gathering there to perpetuate their life ways, according to Matt Mais, tribal spokesperson for the Yurok Tribe.
“The Tribe's rights are non-negotiable,”
Yurok, Hoopa and
stated Yurok Chairman Thomas O'Rourke Sr. last week. "As long as we are here, we will continue to gather in culturally appropriate way that is beneficial to all species."
This past Saturday, tribal members from the Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk Tribes went to gather marine items to test the Marine Life Protection Act. They did so with fear of being fined or arrested.
On Saturday, there were no fines given out, nor were any arrested.
“This is the first step towards the affirmation of our aboriginal rights,”
said Bob McConnell (Yurok) on Sunday afternoon.
The next step is for tribal officials to meet with members of the California Fish and Game Commission on June 29 in Stockton, California.
posted June 20, 2011 10:47 am et
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