Some people like numbers, others like paintings and stories. For a long 
time, the towers of academia, science, and commerce have seemed amused by relatively simple prophecies of a tipping point put forth by American Indians. Quite simply common knowledge, as many of us had been educated to believe, could know no problem that modern science supported and driven by economic giants couldn’t solve. 
        Fast forward, and we are there looking over our shoulders wondering how did we get here so fast – the tipping point is here. And with new practices for energy production growing such as fracking and more off shore oil production, we are even more in need of solutions from academia, science and commerce. 
        There is one expert that this triad, academia, science and commerce have downplayed, and that’s our own individual capacity for change, adaptation and ingenuity. The best renewable resource we have is in our own
hands. If we use them to unplug, reduce usage and adopt lifestyle changes that circumvent as much energy consumption as possible. 
         Last weekend I watched the video of David MacKay, as he tours the basic mathematics that show limitations on our sustainable energy options and explains how he took a stand in his own home to reduce energy for running his household. Interestingly, he didn’t need a smart meter. 
         The demand for energy, in California has had an impact on the “natural environment” through extraction of a renewable energy - water. The hydroelectric system well known in Plumas County as PG&E’s Five Steps of Power on the Feather River was developed over the past fifty or so years. The land called Big Meadows with a number of villages now under Lake Almanor was once alive and vibrant with the sounds and daily activities of Maidu families, who were pushed aside for profits, and so 8 million Californians could use inexpensive electricity at their will and leisure.  As the people of Monte Belo Dam in Brazil are fighting hydro dam construction in their village sites, we, who have heard the history of the Maidu and the hydro system in Plumas County know this is a process which while creating wealth and prosperity for some, will leave indigenous people without justice and
suffering for many years to come. The environment will be irreparably changed with unknown consequences, just as the Plumas Forest and Upper Feather River watershed is the subject of an experiment still in process. 
         Where are the Maidu villages, the salmon and the eels? 
         The history of Lake Almanor started with the Red River Lumber Company, which obtained the land when Maidu people are reported to have signed over their land allotments to the Indian agent at Greenville, all within a few days, many signed with an X. The Indian Agent signed his name as the witness. After Red River Lumber Company was done with the clear cutting on Big Meadows, the land was then transferred to The Great Western Power Company, which later became PG&E. Great Western Power started the transition of the former Maidu homeland at Big Meadows into Lake Almanor, and the hydro system now on the Feather River and its tributaries.         
         Today, the PG&E Company is divesting parcels of excess land as part of its bankruptcy, including
the Humbug Valley, or Tasmam Koyom, which it never did end up using for power generation. There are over 2,000 acres that are many miles off of the pavement, with a trout fishery that is sought out by serious anglers. It’s also the homeland to Beverly Ogle, Maidu Elder,  and her family, whose Maidu ancestors were residents of a village in the valley and are buried there. Ogle has resided there intermittently through the years of PG&E and ranch owners. She is the Vice Chairman of the Maidu Summit Consortium, which has submitted a proposal for these excess lands. She and others in the Summit have been working for many years on proposals and dialogues with PG&E, and the Pacific Stewardship Council to make a bid on their homeland. 
        The social and environmental justice elements in their proposal for Humbug are well documented, ironic, and inescapable. Still, even with the price the Maidu have paid for California to prosper due to cheap energy and other extracted spoils of the Upper Feather River Watershed for the past century and a half, people have been too quick to revert to stereotypes and slurs, asserting the Maidu want to build a casino, as was put forth by a number of people commenting on an article in the New York Times. 
         The land will be perpetually placed in a land conservation trust, which prohibits future development. Maidu Elder, Lorena Gorbet has worked for the past 35 years in endeavors, many unpaid, to seek justice for the Maidu people in many areas, including land repatriation and environmental justice. She spoke with me last month and shared these words (click on her name) about her interest in having the Humbug Valley put back into the hands of the Maidu people, through the Maidu Summit Consortium.  The Summit, as it’s known, is working on Humbug Valley projects and strengthening its organization this spring and summer, so it can be ready to assume fee title ownership of this land. It’s a start I hope to a new era of repatriation of lands back to the Maidu people after a century and half of enduring, quietly, and painfully what no people should ever have had to experience.  
         My hope going forward as we explore what sustainability means is that we, who have chosen Plumas County as our home,  are inclusive, and weigh the true costs of progress, and lean towards self-control and life style changes over the control and oppression of others, and are aware that even renewable energy has costs to the environment and people, and can involve extraction of resources other than fossil fuels. We have been dependent on extraction of resources of all kinds to make California, and Plumas County what it is. 
        Now it’s time to think deeper, look at what energy is in our own hands, and address deeper land and energy ethics through our way of being. Green = Ethics X Energy Squared. 



06/18/2012 11:33am

Really great post, Dorette.

06/19/2012 10:15pm

Thanks for the comment Carrie- glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the tips today. You're such a wealth of good ideas!

11/01/2012 6:05pm

thank you for this short history. too many people (most) around here do not know anything about Big Meadows, the original Prattville and the Maidu people.

11/07/2012 3:47pm

Happy you stopped by to read the blog and shared the comment. So many people are connnected to the last and next 15 minutes as a reference to where they are located. History is an often overlooked GPS device. Peace


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