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The Road To Healing

The Road To Healing

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland traveled to Rohnert Park, California on August 6, 2023, to host an event on “The Road to Healing”, a year-long tour across the country to provide Native survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and their descendants an opportunity to share their experiences. At the event held at Graton Casino Event Center, I spoke regarding my experience at Stewart Indian Boarding School. The venue was well attended, with several generations of stories honoring grandparents, aunts, uncles, and community members that were in most cases kidnapped from their homes and shipped off to various Indian Boarding Schools throughout the United States.

Stewart Indian Boarding School was opened Dec. 17, 1890, and permanently closed in 1980. It is located outside Carson City, Nevada. The Interior Department actively financed more than 400 American Indian boarding schools in partnership with Christian church leadership throughout the United States. The primary focus was to completely assimilate native children from their traditional culture and remove them from their homelands.  This meant forcibly forbidding their Tribal language, regalia, spirituality, or family ties to remain in place. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet Secretary. She created the “Road to Healing” across Indian country to hear firsthand the horrific and massive negative impacts of boarding schools. Secretary Haaland reflecting on children being forcibly removed from their families said, “Those are formidable years in a child’s life. It’s devastating. It’s important for every single American to know what happened.”

Speaking in public allowed other survivors to personally address their lived experiences or those of loved ones who upon returning were so quiet, protective, or emotionless. The trauma from extreme physical and emotional abuse caused many to behave so differently after returning to their homes.  This included many survivors responding violently when seemingly minorly provoked. Survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress including hypervigilance which can cause them to lash out to those around them with severe repercussions. We were not taught to love, to forgive, to be compassionate or give assistance to others in physical or emotional turmoil.

The negative effects of Indian boarding schools did not end with their closures. Addictions and alcohol continue to plague Tribal communities. We have long memories and no respite from a government that sought to destroy our way of life. It almost worked. With no positive parenting role models, many individuals repeat the circle of violence and non-communicative behaviors; still unable to address the permanently damaged Tribal self-image, nonexistent self-esteem, and absent sense of self-worth.  We were basically stripped of culture, traditions, human kindness, and social skills. Those that returned home no longer fit in, but we had nowhere else to go. We were made strangers to our own people. Deep cultural ties were severed and, in most cases, could not be rebuilt. This is an ongoing genocide, waged against children and Tribal communities.

I am a survivor, a prisoner of war. We demand help, but mainstream mental health professionals do not know of our frozen place in history. But we are not history, we are still standing, vibrant and must change public awareness, compensation and to be victorious in our hearts to lift others when possible.  Always remember the biggest most hard-fought war was here on domestic soil against the First People of the First Nations.

In Stewart, we lived in a world of sexual abuse, physical torment, learning and surviving meant being pitted against one another to fight for the pleasure of staff. Always demanding a winner and a loser. Losers didn’t get to eat or bathe, did double duty as prescribed by matrons, security or teachers. I thought surviving physically to come home was the greatest feeling ever. Little did I realize a part of my heart and soul remains in the desert of Stewart. Many stories to be told but always remembering the children who never made it home. Lost forever, every day I pray for them, that their Spirit soars far away from their pain and back with their families. Never forget…

Secretary Haaland, Assistant Secretary Newland to Visit California on “The Road to Healing”

U.S. Department of the Interior sent this bulletin at 07/25/2023 02:00 PM EDT

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.US Department of the Interior Media Advisory
Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Contact: Interior_Press@ios.doi.govSecretary Haaland, Assistant Secretary Newland to Visit California on “The Road to Healing” Will meet with federal Indian boarding school survivors and descendants

WASHINGTON — On August 4 and 6, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland will travel to Riverside and Rohnert Park, California for the next two stops on “The Road to Healing,” a year-long tour across the country to provide Native survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and their descendants an opportunity to share their experiences. Secretary Haaland launched the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to shed light on the troubled history of Federal Indian boarding school policies and their legacy for Indigenous Peoples. In May 2022, the Department released Volume 1 of an investigative report as part of the Initiative, which calls for connecting communities with trauma-informed support and facilitating the collection of a permanent oral history. Trauma-informed support will be available on-site during the events, which will be memorialized as part of the effort to capture first-person stories. Only the first hour of the events will be open to credentialed members of the media to allow space for the wishes of participants. A transcript will be available in the weeks following the visit.

The Road to Healing – Riverside, California
WHAT: Meeting with survivors and descendants of the federal Indian boarding school system as part of “The Road to Healing”
WHEN: August 4, 2023, at 10:00 AM PT
WHERE: Riverside, California

The Road to Healing – Rohnert Park, California
WHAT: Meeting with survivors and descendants of the federal Indian boarding school system as part of “The Road to Healing”
WHEN: August 6, 2023, at 10:00 AM PT
WHERE: Rohnert Park, California

RSVP: Credentialed members of the media interested in attending must RSVP to by 12:00 PM PT on August 2.

Additional information will be sent upon RSVP confirmation.###

Tribal Beneficial Uses in the Bay Delta Plan

CA Indian Water Commission President and Cyndi Dawson from Castalia Environmental in from of Cal EPA building after President Stevenson gave testimony to the Water Boards about Tribal Beneficial Uses

Yesterday CA Indian Water Commission President Atta Stevenson gave powerful testimony to the State Water Resources Control Board calling for them to move forward with including Tribal Beneficial Uses (TBUs) to the update of the Bay Delta Plan. The State Water Board adopted the following definitions in 2017 to further define TBUs.

  • Tribal Tradition and Culture (CUL): Uses of water that support the cultural, spiritual, ceremonial, or traditional rights or lifeways of California Native American Tribes, including, but not limited to: navigation, ceremonies, or fishing, gathering, or consumption of natural aquatic resources, including fish, shellfish, vegetation, and materials.
  • Tribal Subsistence Fishing (T-SUB): Uses of water involving the non-commercial catching or gathering of natural aquatic resources, including fish and shellfish, for consumption by individuals, households, or communities of California Native American Tribes to meet needs for sustenance.

The next opportunity to comment on TBUs will be later this summer and we will post info. here.

National Wilderness Month

———- Forwarded message ———
From: MBX CEQ Land and Water <>
Date: Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 9:14 AM
Subject: A Proclamation on National Wilderness Month, 2021

Hello All,

In case you missed it, we wanted to share with you President Biden’s National Wilderness Month proclamation.  Please see the proclamation below for more details and stay tuned for more updates from the CEQ Conservation Team.


Stephenne Harding, Senior Director for Lands

Sara Gonzalez-Rothi, Senior Director for Water

The White House Logo
August 31, 2021
– – – – – – –
America’s public lands and waters, awe-inspiring landscapes, and cultural sites reflect a deep and abiding connection to our natural heritage.  Our lands and waters are rich with diverse plant and animal life, and we are privileged to be able to enjoy irreplaceable national treasures that amaze us, inspire us, fill us with pride, support our lives and livelihoods, and belong to all of us in equal measure. 

During National Wilderness Month, we affirm that our Nation’s public lands and waters must be accessible to all Americans, we recognize that our lands and waters can revitalize the soul and solidify our respect for the natural wonders that surround us and the earth we share, and we recommit to their preservation and protection, today and for future generations. 

The Wilderness Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, opened a new chapter in American conservation by creating the National Wilderness Preservation System.  The primary goal of the act is to preserve the places “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled.”  Today, the National Wilderness Preservation System includes more than 800 wilderness areas spanning more than 111 million acres.  These wilderness areas are located within national forests, parks, wildlife refuges, and conservation lands and waters.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans turned to these areas for physical recreation, mental well-being, and inspiration, and our public lands and waters became places of healing and sanctuary.  

But our natural wonders are at risk.  Now more than ever, we must come together to combat the climate crisis and unprecedented acceleration of species extinction, to protect and conserve our great outdoors before it is too late.  Since taking office, I have recommitted the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, pushed for stronger action to cut greenhouse gas pollution, and resolved to strengthen our resilience against rising temperatures. Additionally, my Administration’s historic “America the Beautiful” initiative sets a national conservation goal to invest in, conserve, connect, and restore at least 30 percent of the Nation’s lands and waters by 2030.  These diverse landscapes and waterways are vital in so many ways:  they provide homes to fish and wildlife, and hold resources that sustain our own lives, counteract the damaging impacts of climate change, and underpin our global economy.

We also recognize that not all Americans have access to our public lands.  My Administration is committed to ensuring that all peoples and communities have clean air and clean water, and receive the additional physical, spiritual, and economic benefits that our great wilderness provides. As the original stewards of these lands, Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities have a sacred connection and deep understanding of our Nation’s wilderness areas, and the history of America’s public lands has too often involved broken promises to the Native peoples who have lived on them since time immemorial. I am committed to working in partnership with Tribal, State, and local partners to find solutions to our most pressing conservation and stewardship challenges, and to honoring the special relationship of Tribes to their ancestral sacred lands.  This work is urgent.

During National Wilderness Month, let us strengthen our connection to the American wilderness areas, support their designation and protection, and work to preserve the stories they tell, the memories they create, and the heritage they reflect for all Americans for generations to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2021 as National Wilderness Month.  I encourage all Americans to experience our Nation’s outdoor heritage, to recreate responsibly and to leave no trace, to celebrate the value of preserving an enduring resource of wilderness, and to strengthen our commitment to protecting these vital lands and waters now and for future generations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
                                   JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. 

All national forests in California closed to visitors. No Labor Day camping, hiking, biking

With fires raging across the state, the USDA Forest Service is closing all 20 million acres of California’s national forests to public access for two weeks beginning Tuesday.

In an announcement Monday, the Forest Service said the closure will extend through at least Sept. 17.

“I have made the difficult decision to temporarily close all (California) National Forests in order to better provide public and firefighter safety due to extreme fire conditions throughout the state, and strained firefighting resources throughout the country,” California’s regional forester, Jennifer M. Eberlien, said in an email to employees obtained by The Sacramento Bee.


Assembly candidate Elizabeth Betancourt

California Indian Water Commission

Assembly candidate Elizabeth Betancourt met with CIWC Board members to discuss issues important to the north state. Biomass, water quality,  quantity, conveyance, the impacts to fish, small businesses, farmers, and tribal matters were discussed. Utilizing traditional knowledge to control and lessen catastrophic forest fires by continual small burns for healthy forests,  meadows, waterways etcetera was also addressed with Ms. Betancourt. A robust discussion with exchange of ideas was had by all.

CIWC Board was greatly pleased to hear several issues raised that were shared by both parties. We believe a solid foundation of understanding will continue with candidate Elizabeth Betancourt for Assembly.

The time for a new approach to representing constituents of the north state has arrived.  Every vote matters. Affordable access to clean drinking Water must be a human right and we must protect the  sacred spirit it provides to all life.


Mendocino County celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Mendocino County celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

This is a photogratph of the Tribal group that supported the change in recognition  to Indigenous Day in Mendocino County 2020. President of California Indian Water Commission, Atta P. Stevenson (Cahto) (front row second from right, white blouse) spoke and noted that a change of name must include a change of mandatory history curriculum to reflect the true history of not only California but of Mendocino County, and include the genocide of local tribes and bounty on tribal men, women and babies.

Classroom discussions must be presented by tribal members from their respective communities. We congratulate the Board of Supervisors for a unanimous vote to celebrate official Indigenous Day.

Mendocino County Newsbreak Article

MENDOCINO Co., 10/12/20 — Today is officially Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Mendocino County, a holiday which was temporarily recognized by county officials in the past, but was made an officially recurring holiday by the Board of Supervisors with a proclamation in August, 2019. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is also celebrated by a number of cities and states across the country, replacing what was previously called Columbus Day.