Tag Archive for 'paiute indians'

Big Step In Restoring Tribal Pupfish Habitat

Photo retrieved from: www.kcet.org

“A Native tribe based in the Owens Valley is applying for a permit to move an endangered desert fish to a specially prepared refuge on the tribe’s land, in an effort to restore a species that was once vital to the tribe’s survival.

The Bishop Paiute Tribe, whose 2,000 or so enrolled members live on and near the tribe’s 875-acre reservation in Bishop, has been working to restore the federally endangered Owens pupfish along with other native fish species on the reservation’s Native Fish Refuge. A pair of ponds at the Refuge have been ready to receive the fish since 2012, when the conservation area formally opened. But these days you can’t just toss an endangered fish in a bucket and move it to a new pond. That would put the Tribe in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

So for the last couple of years, the Tribe has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to craft a permit that would allow moving the pupfish to their new home. And members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on that permit starting Thursday.

The Owens pupfish, Cyprinodon radiosus, is the largest of the pupfish species native to the California desert, reaching up to two inches in length. Once widespread up and down the Owens Valley in the network of ponds and sloughs that make up the Owens River watershed, the Owens pupfish was once a staple food item for the local Paiute, who caught fish by the hundreds and dried them for storage and later eating.

That bounty ended with the advent of European settlement and resource exploitation. Water diversions and introduced predatory fish such as largemouth bass depleted the Owens pupfish’s numbers to the point where it was actually considered extinct by the mid-1940s.

Fortunately for the pupfish, a small group held on in a series of pools in Fish Slough, north of Bishop. Rediscovered in 1964, the fish were listed in 1967 as Endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, a precursor to the current Endangered Species Act.”

Read more: KCET


1863 Indian Massacre Site Uncovered in California

Photo retrieved from: www.newser.com

“Archaeologists say they’ve stumbled upon a grim page in American history: the site of the 1863 Owens Lake massacre. The Los Angeles Times provides a history lesson: The Paiute Indians occupied land some 200 miles north of LA that proved desirable to an influx of ranchers in the mid 1800s. The Owens Valley Indian War broke out in 1861, but a seminal moment occurred on March 19, 1863: Settlers and soldiers battled with the Paiutes, who tried to flee their attackers by swimming into the lake, but were thwarted by a strong wind; nearly three dozen of them drowned or were shot. The tale of that day remains, but the exact location was lost.

That’s in part because officials diverted the Owens River in 1913 in order to feed LA’s water needs, reports Grist; by the middle of the next decade, Owens Lake was no more. But heavy winds and rains in 2009 may have helped return bullets, buttons, and Native American artifacts to the surface; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archaeologists found them during a survey last year. But the discovery is spurring a small controversy: The dry lake bed fuels toxic dust storms, and DWP has been charged with mitigating that with shallow flooding—at what is now thought to be the massacre site.”

Read more: Newser


Paiute Indians Help Map the History of the L.A. Aqueduct

Photo retrieved from: www.thecaliforniareport.org

“Working on a documentary project in the Owens Valley on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) can be a little dicey. A truck zooms by as UC Berkeley scholar Jenna Cavelle and Paiute elder Harry Williams begin one of their mapping expeditions.

“Is this DWP land?” Cavelle asks Williams. “’Cause they’re right there, looking at us.”

DWP is aware of the project, but the two haven’t asked permission to make trips onto department property. Still, Cavelle feels generally secure when she’s with Williams because of a sanctuary agreement between DWP and the natives that allows them to come onto the land.

“This is our homeland. Kick me off, you’re gonna have to drag me,” Williams remarks.

The water wars that drained the Owens Valley 100 years ago to feed the Los Angeles aqueduct are today the stuff of literary and cinematic legend. But the Paiute story has been left out of the tellings. Before the arrival of white settlers, this tribe had a sophisticated water system of their own. This year marks the centennial anniversary of the aqueduct’s construction, and Cavelle and Williams are working to uncover this lost part of California’s water history.”

Read more: The California Report


PAYA: The Untold Story of the LA-Owens Valley Water War

Photo retrieved from: www.aqueductfutures.wordpress.com

Jenna Cavelle, an adventurer, blogger and journalist, photographer, and now conservation and resource studies researcher at Berkeley, is making a film about the Paiute’s use of water in Owens Valley.  From her bio at Peakwater.org (which she co-founded):

Jenna works with members of the Paiute Indian community of California on a project that combines education, outreach, and technology to restore cultural memory associated with their ancient irrigation systems. These waterworks are currently in danger of being lost in the Owens Valley landscape through weathering and neglect. In addition, knowledge of the waterworks is also fading from American memory through the loss of culturally transmitted traditional knowledge. Through community engagement, she works with tribal members to document Paiute irrigation networks and their role in shaping Paiute culture. While her project has real bearing on tribal customs and interests, it also informs larger local and regional communities through education and museum exhibits.

For a full description of the film/project, check out her Kickstart.com page: PAYA: The Untold Story of the LA-Owens Valley Water War.”

Read more: Aqueduct Futures

PAYA a film by Peakwater founder Jenna Cavelle on the radio!

Photo retrieved from: www.itunes.com

Here is a link to the radio interview about documentary film PAYA on KMMT. It is the first podcast listed as of now titled “Interview With Documentarian Jenna Cavelle”. Please share with others and go to kickstarter and make a pledge to help this film get to Sundance!!!!!!! Help restore Paiute history and bring the true version of their story to the world.

Listen here: KMMT

To support PAYA visit: Kickstarter


Jenna Cavelle wants to correct ‘Chinatown’

Photo retrieved from: www.tuvaijumemory.org

“If you’ve heard any history of the California desert at all, you’ve likely heard of the Owens Valley Water War.

Here’s the canonical version of that War: The Owens Valley is watered by runoff from the immense snowfall from the Sierra Nevada to its west, much of which runs into the Owens River when it melts. The Owens Valley is an endorrheic basin: it has no outflow. The Owens River never reaches the ocean. Instead, it flows into Owens Lake, in the valley’s lowest point at its south end.

Late in the 19th Century a thriving network of agricultural communities was developing due to the river’s water, growing a vibrant local economy along with their crops. Enter the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, led by engineer William Mulholland. DWP quietly bought up water rights throughout the Owens Valley in a series of deceptive land deals, then built a 223-mile aqueduct to bring Owens River water to Los Angeles. The aqueduct was finished in 1913 — 100 years ago this November — and farms started going out of business in the decade after. Owens Valley farmers dynamited parts of the aqueduct in 1924, but the rebellion was short-lived. Owens Lake, which had been a rich habitat for waterfowl, dried up and is now the single largest point source of particulate matter pollution in the U.S.

As canonical histories go, it’s pretty accurate. Or at least more accurate than the version a lot of people have in their heads due to the film Chinatown, which was based on the Owens Valley story. But it’s a woefully incomplete history nonetheless. The history of the Owens Valley didn’t start in the late 19th Century. Before the first European settlers arrived there were people living in the Owens Valley for thousands of years. The Owens Valley Paiute took advantage of the relatively well-watered landscape by gathering seeds, hunting the Valley’s abundant game, and — though this hardly ever gets mentioned in any of the formal histories — diverting the water of the Owens River and its tributaries to irrigate their crops.”

Read more: Pharyngula


Filmmaker bringing story of ‘paya’ to the masses

Photo retrieved from: www.inyoregister.com

“With the 100-year anniversary of the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct looming, a filmmaker is asking for help in her effort to tell an untold portion of the Owens Valley water wars.
Jenna Cavelle has been working on her documentary, “PAYA: The Untold Story of the L.A.-Owens Valley Water War” for the past year-and-a-half, and recently launched a Kick Starter page to help raise the funds needed to complete the project by its proposed release date this summer. “Paya” is the Paiute word for “water.”
“For the past 100 years, the L.A. Owens Valley water story always begins and ends with the L.A. Aqueduct,” Cavelle says in an introduction to her documentary at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jennacavelle/paya-the-untold-story-o…. “But there is a greater story, an untold story that is rich in history and human achievement. A story that is as much a part of American memory as the creation of our great cities. This story is the history of the Paiute Indians, who populated and irrigated the Owens Valley for millennia, long before the aqueduct was built. This project sheds light on the pre-history of America’s longest water war, telling the story of Paiute Native Americans and the vast irrigation systems they engineered.”
Cavelle has more than 10 years of experience working as a published journalist, photographer and researcher, in Mexico, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Cambodia and throughout the United States.
She said she got the idea for a project that would tell the history of the Paiutes’ water use in the Owens Valley when Bishop Tribal Member Harry Williams appeared as a guest speaker in one of her classes at UC Berkeley. During Williams’ lecture, “I was just completely lit up” when hearing about the Paiute’s history in the Owens Valley, and also “… saddened that this knowledge wasn’t being passed on to the younger generation.”
When the idea began, Cavelle had planned to create a museum exhibit, website and oral history about the Paiutes’ traditional uses of water in the Owens Valley, but as she began working on the project, it evolved.
“The film really didn’t come from me, it came from the community – people wanted to tell the story and reach a broader audience,” she said.”

Read more: The Inyo Register

NV Energy’s coal-burning plant fires up Paiutes

Photo retrieved from: www.indiancountry.com

“Paiutes tell stories of the plant’s impact over four decades. On windy days, coal-ash particles from the plant’s landfill fell like snowflakes on houses at the reservation where about half the tribe lives. On stagnant mornings, yellow-brown clouds hovered over the reservation and the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide from evaporation ponds drifted across the valley.

That is why this group of American Indians embarked on a “cultural healing walk,” a three-day, 50-mile pilgrimage that ended at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas on Earth Day. Their goal was to raise awareness about health problems the Moapa band faces from continued operation of the Reid Gardner Generating Station.

Lee Swan, a 64-year-old Southern Paiute, sees a monster in the tallest of four smokestacks, built in 1983 and standing 500 feet. The other three, constructed in the 1960s and ’70s, are about half that height.”

Read more: Las Vegas Review-Journal


The Water Fight That Inspired ‘Chinatown’

William Mulholland. Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“When 95 percent of the water rights along the river were in the hands of Mulholland’s department, an aqueduct some 233 miles long was built to take the water to the city. But because the amount that was flowing to Los Angeles was more than it could use, Owens Valley water soon made the San Fernando Valley bloom and enriched inside investors who were champions of Mulholland’s plans. (The relevant line from the movie, spoken by Jack Nicholson’s character, J.J. Gittes: “Do you have any idea what this land would be worth with a steady water supply? About $30 million more than they paid for it.”)

Eventually Los Angeles incorporated those farmlands into its boundaries. In an effort beginning in 1905, Dr. Libecap reports, the city acquired the land and water rights of 1,167 Owens Valley farms comprising 262,000 acres for about $20.7 million. (The latter figure is the equivalent of more than $220 million today.)

The one serious misjudgement in Mulholland’s plan was his calculation of how fast the newly watered city would outgrow the initial infusion of water. So Mulholland and Los Angeles came back for more of the river in 1926 and 1927, and some local farmers responded by repeatedly blowing up the pipeline. Mulholland then sent dozens of armed guards to protect his aqueduct. Soon, agricultural resistance dissipated. But the legend of injustice persisted.”

Read more: New York Times


Is Nevada Coal Plant an Example of Environmental Injustice?

Photo retrieved from: www.thinkprogress.org

“For almost 50 years, the Moapa Piaute Band has been living near one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation, getting exposed to dangerous levels of noxious gases, coal ash, and water pollution. However, they haven’t seen the economic benefits they were promised – or any of the electricity.

In the 60’s, when the project developer needed support from the local Piautes to build the Reid Gardner power plant, a contract was drafted promising to hire members of the tribe. But today, no Piautes are employed at the plant, even while asthma rates, thyroid problems and cancer rates increase, according to the tribe.

A local television station, KLAS recently investigated the dispute:

The agreement only obligates the company to “try” to find spots for Paiutes. Some have worked at the plant over the years, yet today, no one from the reservation is employed by NV Energy.”

Read more: Think Progress