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tv   Earth Focus  LINKTV  July 7, 2022 1:30am-2:01am PDT

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>> creator gave us what we needed to take care of ourselves, and he also told us, "this is what i gave you. this is what you need to protect." we need this air. we need this ass. we need the trees. we need everything. it belongs to all of us, not just one person to go out and harvest and take for themselves, and it's not to be used to get rich and to fill your pockets. >> terra-gen identified monument ridge and bear river ridge as having high potential for wind development. i met with them early, and i expressed concerns about there being native ground there. >> i think, because this project would have been so visible, it would be a constant reminder of
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how the tribe's land was taken for the sake of profit. >> this is kind of on the tail end of getting sacred land back, and now another was at risk. it almost seemed like a slap in the face. >> and so when we have to participate in some sort of protest or cleanup or a restoration, everybody chimes in or does their part because we all have a stake in it and without it, it would be a different culture completely. >> i told terra-gen, "the earth is not for sale. we will not be your manifest destiny." announcer: this program was made possible in part by a grant from anne ray foundation, a margaret a. cargill philanthropy. >> our medicine people would always go to the highest
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mountains to do their prayers. the reason why they go to the highest mountain, because that's where they can be more connected to the creator and that they can communicate to the creator, do their prayers to the creator. they're closer to him. tsakiyuwit is one of those spots. >> this concept of the high prayer site, it's a site where you can see all of your ancestral territory. you can see where your people's history has unfolded and see what you're responsible for. we're kind of used to looking at native american sites through the lens of archeology and artifacts and village sites when, really, the whole landscape was part of their reality and had meaning and names and place names and activities that happened on these landscapes. hernandez: when we heard about the wind towers that were gonna be put there, you know, automatically, i'm like, "no. that can't go there because there's something special about that place." i started talking to the elders, and we all knew that we had to put a stop to it because for them towers to be sort of where it's sacred to us,
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it's like you can't because if you do that, then you destroy part of our ceremony. canter: bear river ridge is kind of the southern border of wiyot territory, and it has one of the biggest coastal prairies left in northern california. it's just this big, continuous, open, ridge-top prairie. this was a place that was shaped and cared for by the indigenous people, and sites like this, pristine ecosystems that have that touch of the indigenous stewardship, these are living legacies of the indigenous people's traditional ecological knowledge that they've been practicing for millennia. this whole area, kind of the crest of the prairie, was all proposed for turbines 600 feet tall, twice the height of the statue of liberty, with big, concrete pads that were 75 feet across and were gonna be 10 feet
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deep into the ground, and then the concrete pads were gonna remain in perpetuity, impacting the prairie, impacting the hydrology, the way water drains and flows off the ridge crest, and the topography as we see it now would've been just drastically altered, and this is for a 30-year project, you know, something that's, you know, been evolving for millennia to be forever altered for a 30-year project. nazy javid: humboldt wind, llc, with terra-gen is heading up a new project, and they want your int. >> the project proposed constructing 60 wind turbines on land south of rio dell and scotia, with 47 of those turbines being built on the bear river and monunt ridges. here are some of the things people had to say at today's meeting... russ: myame's lane russ, a i, along with extended family, own the forest home rancthat is the pposed wind per proje. in getting involved with this project, i
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thk one of the things that we found most surprising was e claim by the wiyot tribe. in the past 20 years that i have operated on the operty, ve never been approached nor ntacted the wiyots, and i'm not aware that my father was nor my grandfather. >> all of these feelings, ideals, and pleas being spoken in front of the humboldt county board of supervisors, who will decide tuesday if they will overturn the planning commission's 4-2 decision to deny the project from moving forward. mike wilson: there's a reason that the family may not have experienced native and indigenous people on their property, is because the people who went thereo collect didn't make themselves--didn't avaiof themselves, and why should t consideri the history that we have to deal with? there is some real learning that needs to happen. madrone: i mean, who doesn't know that these high ridges were important to our local native american community? that's common knowledge. [applause] it wasn't new for me, but i do think for other board members
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and definitely members of the public, there was a lot learned about how important that area was. i think there were a lot of people who were caught offuard by that, a lot of local white people and others that thought, "what do you mean, it's a native site? it's a rancher's property. he's had it for 150 years." hernandez: we learned our lessons from the past, you know? that's one reason why we don't tell everybody where everything's at. what's sacred to us is sacred to us, and if we have to protect it, then, yes, we're gonna go out and protect it, and 're gonna let you know, "hey, this is sacred. you don't need to be there. we'll help you put it somewhere else, but not here," and i think that's when a lot of people were thinking that the wiyot tribe is not for green energy, but, you know, we have been saying that we want green energy since the time of our creation. >> one of the ways that the tribe believes in fighting climate change is to protect biodiversity and to offset our carbon, our greenhouse gas emissions through proper forest management. canter: it was going to be the
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first coastal, large-scale, industrial utility wind project, and they picked one of the west coast's premier biodiversity hotspots to do it. the question that terra-gen wasn't able to answer is how will these mammoth turbines affect the microclimate up on the ridge, and the transmission line would have been as big of an impact as the turbines themselves, going along a forested ridge for 25 miles. the largest old-growth redwood forest left in the world is just a couple miles downriver here at humboldt redwood state park. we hardly get any rain for 6 months or more out of the year, and so the moisture that comes in in our summer fogs is really what sustains the redwoods, and, you know, we all know what happens when you put a fan in a really humid room. it drops that humidity. what people might not think about is the huge role that our forests play in sequestering carbon. an acre of old-growth redwood stores more carbon than an acre of old-growth amazonian rainforest, and so the
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significance of these forests, they really are part of the lungs of the pacific northwest. when we asked the company about whether or not this would impact fog, you know, their response was, "well, we can't be expected to evaluate every possible concern and impact from this project. you'll have to get that." koch: we have a long legacy in this county and many areas in america where large investor will come in. they'll t tax breaks. they'll get all kinds of incentives. they'll build their facility. taxes change. other economic factors change. they shut down, go bankrupt or whatever, walk away, and leave us with the toxic mess. we all recognize we need these other ways of taking care of our energy needs, but not at the cost of tremendous environmental and native habitat destruction, so native peoples are trying to be respectful about all these things and say, "mm, we need to think about these things more carefully." canter: symbols are really important, and when we come from a privileged class, it may be harder to think about how things
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like a development can really rip at these really old wounds that are multigenerational and can take many generations to heal. anytime you look upon this place and you would have seen this desecration, it would have been a constant reminder of how the land was colonized and how the wiyot had it stripped away from them. >> so this was kind of on the tail end of getting tuluwat transferred back to us, so we had just received sacred land back, and now another was sort of at risk. it almost seemed like a slap in the face, like, "here. you can have this back while we're gonna go and take something else." hernandez: tuluwat is where we do our prayers. it's where our songs come to us. it's where we
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can actually feel open to speak to the creator from that area. it's like a phone line to him, you know, and that's how important it is, and it's very important that people realize that since it was taken from us in the 1860s, everything started going downhill. >> first time i ever heard of indian island and the indian island massacre was when i was about 6 years old, and mother sat me down and talked about it. koch: because of the wiyot's proximity to development of the city of eureka, you had an indian problem. we've had an "indian problem" since the time that this country was invaded, basically, so the branch of the government that dealt with indians in the beginning was the military and it got to a point where they couldn't kill all the indigenous people, and so they decided, "well, we need to deal with this a different way," and so youad this group of self-appointed vigilantes that decided to murder 200 women, children, and elders.
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>> the people that came onto the island came with these tools. they didn't use anything that could be heard by the people sleeping in eureka. you know, they quietly crept onto the island in the middle of the night and killed people literally in their sleep. from that day forth, wiyot people weren't legally allowed to be on the island again. canter: we're looking at this old, aerial image of tuluwat, which is the wiyot center of the universe. there was actually two villages on tuluwat--the tuluwat proper and then etpidolh--and this is where the gunther mansion was, and for years, folks used to just call tuluwat gunther island, and then eventually, it kind of became indian island, and now we're really trying to only call it tuluwat. this is where the mills were. ere was an old yacht club, you know, lots of industry during the late 19th and early 20th century. tuluwat proper
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before the world renewal ceremony happens had a big metal foundry and a dry dock koch: the duff drydock and boat repair facility operated from just about 1870 to 1990, so they had a boat maintenance and repair facility going for, you know, the better part of 110 years, so there was pretty significant amount of contamination on the site which included pcps, pentachlorophenols, arsenic, leads, heavy metals. there were numerous dilapidated buildings on the island and tons of scrap metal, so there's been a lot of efforts to clean all that up. vassel: the efforts to return to the island started in the 1970s, but in the late ninetiescheryl seidner--who was, at the time, our travel chair--came to the council meeting one day and said, "hey, there's this 1.5 acres that's for sale on the island, and i think the tribe should try to buy it."
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seidner: in less than 12 months, we got enough money to buy the 1.5 acres, which was the massacre site, and when they t the nemayor of eureka, i called him up and said, "would you like to give us the island back?" and he said, "what?"--ha ha ha!--and so we got to talking about that, and he brought it to his city council and to his staff, who worked with the wiyot tribal staff, and we negotiated a land trsfer--40-plus acres. this transfer is the first one of its kind in the united states of america that any city has ever given back any land that was in their coffers, and then they says, "are we going to ask for the rest of the island that the city owns?" the negotiation on that was considerably longer, but they finally came through. they unanimously voted to return the island back, and
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it was satisfying. it was very exciting. there were tears and hollering and happy cheers. [cheering and applause] vassel: once we purchased the island, it was such a powerful thing that this idea of cleaning up an environmental disaster site seemed achievable, too-- ha ha!--and that took years until that entire project was done. koch: this is the restoration site right here. there were a number if dilapidated buildings there with scrap metal. there was a set of rails where they would pull the ships up to the dry dock facility. there was paint sheds, just lots of stuff up there. this sheet piling that we see that was installed as part of the restoration, much of that seawall was marine batteries that they had stacked up. they created a wall with marine batteries to use as a seawall, so this site was just horribly contaminated.
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vassel: you know, in the beginning, it was just people that came to help. we said, "hey, can you help collect metal, debris, and wood from the island?" and people showed up. "does anybody have a barge we can use?" people showed up. we were trying to stop the erosion on the midden. local business donated oysters to help us shore that up, so there was a lot of people in the community that came out to help with those efforts. koch: what we're standing on is the midden. a midden is a buildup of material, in this case, shells, mostly clam shells, that were deposited here by people over thousands of years, and so there's enough deposited here where it's raised this area a few feet. immediately after this got cleaned up, we noticed a bird community that moved in, shorebirds, and the invasive grasses were excluding shorebirds from feeding, right? there's this macroinvertebrate community that was being covered up, and i would say, between the sheet piling, the grasses, and all of our other native
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plantings, it really helped stabilize the area. vassel: as the island started getting clean and we started seeing real results in the water, everybody in this community benefits from that. whether it's just a regular person who goes fishing or a commercial fisherman or an oyster farmer, everybody had a benefit from cleaning up that island, and, i mean, if you saw what it was like then and then you see what it's like today, it's, like, an amazing transformation, so while that was happening on the island, there was, like, a community healing that was going along side by side with it. koch: tribes have always had an intrinsic knowledge of the flow of energy. living so close with the ecosystem and being part of the ecosystem, tribes understood that the flow of energy went both ways. when we're talking about a river, you know, you've got your massive amounts of marine-derived nutrients that anadromous fish would bring back upstream, and there's an ebb and
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flow that would happen. when european settlers showed up and started disrupting that flow, that alone upset the balance that the tribes were trying to maintain, you know, in their everyday life, their food sources, their water. canter: for a tribe like the wiyot that was one of the first to be contacted in the humboldt bay region, they have really been stripped away from those opportunities to practice all those cultural activities that are tied to a landscape. when you lose that ability, that's when you can't pass your traditions on. that's when culture starts to die. >> dad, can you put that one on? i grabbed that one. i'm gonna keep looking for more.
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hee hee! >> you guys having fun? >> yes. >> they love it down here. my youngest is alws like, "dad, can i go this time? can i go? can i go?" i like to bring my girls down here, but i don't let them participate in the eeling part itself, but i keep them up here by the fire, away from the waves, because it can be dangerous. right now, it's high tide. the water's just kind of chilling, and it's gonna start to drop here, and then after it drops down is when we want to start eeling, so we'll eel from about 12:30 or 1:00 on until about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning when the tide starts to come back in. these guys are just trying to take the safest route they can to get up the river, and when the tide's going out, the easiest way for them to get up
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is to use the wave energy that comes close to shore, and that affords us an opportunity to get close enough to them to snag them up with our hooks. well, we didn't get skunked, buddy. >> having the ability to participate in this type of harvesting causes to prioritize participating and preserving it, so when we have to participate in some sort of, like, protest or cleanup or restoration, that, like, everybody chimes in or does their part because we all have a stake in it and we all have something to gain or lose from it, so, like, we're all very grateful for it, and without it, we would be a different culture completely.
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[birds chirping] vassel: with the terra-gen project, we didn't have any monetary resources to put into that, but we did have a longstanding relationship with the community. the idea of what would happen with the windmills was kind of like what happened with the boat yard. i mean, everybody probably thought the boat yard was a great idea at the time for economic development, but it ultimately left this environmental mess, so i think that people in this community really understood that and had gained a trust with the tribe. koch: folks who were proponents of the project, i don't know if they realize what a slap in the face it was to say, if we don't do something now in regards to utilizing some renewable source of energy, that tuluwat is gonna be underwater, you know? it's like, so if this is underwater, then we need our high spots even more than ever. there was a lot of fear and a
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lot of decisions and folks that were making arguments based on fear. alston: it could've been a conversation, but it ended up being a fight, and that's unfortunate, but i think it also sends a message like, "we're here to talk, but if you don't listen, you're going to hear us." >> hundreds of community members gathering at the adorni center monday morning at 9:00 to express their feelings regarding the humbdt wind ergy project, a project that could help alleviate the reliance on fossil fuels by providing the county with a new clean energy source b couldome at the cost of viating th environment and sacred wiyot land. >> what i'm looking at on the screen is appearing behind me. this strand that's located here, if you can follow the cursor, is the location of bear river ridge, and this goes around, up in this location. this would be monument ridge. madrone: if you're coming in with a project like terra-gen, 's gonna need what's called an eir, or an environmental impact report. in this case, there were a lot of really big impact
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like leaving those large, concrete chunks up on the site forever, but terra-gen decided that the were a bunch of thgs they wen't willg to do because it would reduce their retu on investment, so as a board, we were being asked to approve a oject with 8 overriding considerations. there's is huge impact. "we're building somhing on sacred native ground, and there's no mitigation, but it's so important to develop this energy, we're gonna walk over that nive grou and do this." that's an overding consideratio but if that energy is not so greennd is really brown and there's all these problems, then how do you do that? and that was the struggle that the community went through. >> i personally believe this projt needs to be built. reluctantly i say that. >> it's e very same imperialist and industrialist tendencies that have called us to this corner to where we now need to take action. >> there is not a lot of local work, and we now have the opportunity to create some. >> if these people need work, ybe they shoulfind jobs fixing the land their companies
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destroyed. >> i take a little bit of offensto tt maybe the russes ought to sell their property and at some point give it back to the wiyot tribe. >> i'm a dip netr, a brush dancer, a jumpancer, a white deer skin dancer. i matter. >> destroying land is the root of the genocide of people in america, and that is the beginning of the climate crisis. >> and, tea-gen, i want to warn you that the peop of humboldt county are notorious for fighng what's right and chaining themselves to things. [cheering and applause] >> thank you. you guys, come on. canter: it was two grueling days of testimony. the solidarity of the community standing with the tribe s just so powerful to see. terra-gen was gen 45 minutes to give a powerpoint. the indians were given a bunch of time to psent, but the tribe didn't even have a seat at the table. seidner: we needed to be here. we needed to he-- look at alyou and all of you people behind you and look at
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the wiyot side. theris nothing there. madrone: i look forward to the day when projects are brought forward to us that build our community and bring our community together rather than divide us. wilson: thiss terriblei'll just tell you. i'm crying, seriously. canter: so very passionate commentary by the supervisors and the public which culminated, essentially, in terra-gen offering a bribe in front of everyone. chairman bohn, you had mentioned you wa to e more. i think a combination of the redirection of a portion of the tax revenue and accompanied with, um... a million-dollar community endowment to be disbursed as you see fit, that is something that the applicant is willing to consider. uh, thank you. canter: cheryl seidner, our cultural liaison, made eye contact with the supervisors and requested if she could speak.
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seidner: ter-gen, thers not enough money to do that. we can't. you would not sell your mother. we cannot sell our earth, and i don't mean to be disrespectful. you don't know where indigenous peoples come from. we come from here. madrone: so there were some pretty powerful statements made around that, and it just showed how out of touch terra-gen was with the whole idea of protecting native habitat, native ground, things like that. >> i will now take a roll-call vote. supervisor fennell? fennell: no. >> district 3, supervisor wilson? wilson: no. >> district 4, supervisor bass? bass: yes. >> district 5, supervisor madrone. madrone: no. >> district 1, supervisor bohn? bohn: yes. >> motion fails 3-2. project is denied. [cheering and applause] madrone: a half a year befor
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the hearings, i would say the community was probably 3/4 yes voting for the project and only 1/4 no, and in the end, it was really probably 3/4 opposed and only 1/4 for. hernandez: people need to understand, we almost nearly went extinct, and then we came back, and we learned that we need to move forward with the communities now in charge because it's not their fault what their ancestors did, so we make sure people understand that the past exists, but we move forward as a community, and we grow stronger as a community. announcer: this program was made possible in part by a grant from anne ray foundation, a margaret a. cargill■■x■x■í÷í÷í÷í÷■p=qoñéñ
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>> this year, it is particularly joyful for me to be able to welcome back to "bioneers" several women who have been incredibly important as friends, inspirations, and role models to me. among them, none has been more influential and inspiring my life's journey than terry tempest williams. [cheers and applause] yeah. terry is a naturalist, author, educator, artist, and activist. she's one of the greatest engaged nature writers in the

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