Local Area Tribes, CalTrans, Work Together to Save Sacred Site

Local Tribes, CalTrans, to Save Captain McKenzie Village
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Pictured standing from left to right: Adam Lewis, Cultural Preservation Asst. Director, Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians, Debra Grimes, Cultural Preservation Director for the Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians and the California Valley Miwok Tribe, Mary Oliva, Senior Environmental Planner, CalTrans Dist 10, Tina Fulton, Native American Coordinator, CalTrans Dist 10, Anjelica Paulk, Vice Chairperson, California Valley Miwok Tribe and David Rummerfield, Cultural Preservation Senior Monitor, Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians.

For thousands of years, the Captain McKenzie Village had been occupied by its indigenous Miwok inhabitants, making it a major pre-historic and historical site. Throughout that time, the Miwok people would congregate at the village for many spiritual and cultural events, including but not limited to – gatherings, trading, healing and a crying area. Many other native customs which were practiced at the village by those whom lived there or came to participate in the gatherings.

The Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians and Shelly Davis-King have had an ongoing concern for the protection of this site and have been involved in its preservation for the last decade. At this time, the California Valley Miwok Tribe has instructed Debra Grimes, as their Cultural Preservation Director, to involve the Tribe in any ongoing efforts to better assist in the conservation of this once great village.

The immediate priority that was addressed by CalTrans and the respective Cultural Preservation representatives of both the Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians and the California Valley Miwok Tribe (both overseen by Ms. Grimes), was to halt further erosion damage to the village before the onset of winter. Many options were discussed between CalTrans officials and the Cultural Preservation representatives. The furthering of those options will be weighed to find the best short term and long term solutions to the critical issues currently facing the site and many will need to be re-addressed as the situation of the site changes in the years to come. Also discussed were other locations of concern located within the aboriginal boundaries of the two tribes, whose Cultural Preservation Departments anticipate working diligently alongside CalTrans in the future.

Ms. Mary Oliva, CalTrans Senior Environmental Planner, stressed the importance of communication between all parties involved and for the continued strengthening of the working relationship between CalTrans, the Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians and the California Valley Miwok Tribe – as well as their representative Cultural Preservation Departments – to best address all areas of concern and to work together to find the best possible solutions at all village sites within their prospective aboriginal territories.

At this time, we would like to thank CalTrans District 10 for their consideration in working with the Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians and the California Valley Miwok Tribe, in addressing the important issues discussed; also, in sending Ms. Mary Oliva, the Senior Environmental Planner and Ms. Tina Fulton, Native American Coordinator, whose offices are located within the CalTrans District 10 building in Stockton, California. This coming together on location with representatives participating for all interested parties provided a good spiritual feeling to all of the native peoples present.