14.30 A Crime with No Name: Archaeology Lite and Lawlessness in Northern California
Over the past twenty-five years, numerous amendments and additions to heritage- and human rights-based statutes, regulations, and directives were enacted with the intent of legitimizing and increasing the incorporation of indigenous voices into the national historic preservation program of the United States. Generally speaking, this endeavour has been a successful one, with Native American communities establishing a more meaningful role in heritage management and exercising greater sovereignty over their aboriginal territories and the resources that exist within these landscapes. There is a marked deviation from this trend, however, within the state of California. Using as case study a state-sanctioned transportation project in Mendocino County, which has irrevocably marred the homeland and ancestral remnants of the Mitom Kai Poma, this paper will explore the culture of institutionalized apathy, aggressive obstructionism, and above-the-law attitude that pervades the state’s approach to Native Californians and their heritage. California’s legitimization of an ersatz archaeology and the resultant devaluation, deprivation, and destruction of indigenous material cultural heritage will also be elucidated. Furthermore, in contrast with the claims of the state of California and its agents, this paper will argue that the violence perpetrated by project proponents upon the Mitom Kai Poma and their descendants is not the unintended outcome of a compilation of unrelated circumstances or the unfortunate result of acts performed by a minority of rogue operators. Rather, using Gregory Stanton’s “Ten Stages of Genocide,” the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo and I will demonstrate how the state has effectively used, and continues to employ, a coordinated strategy of archaeo-genocide to destroy the material culture of Native Californians and diminish Tribes’ legally mandated role in heritage-based decision-making, especially when those communities’ resources and rights are viewed as being in conflict with the state’s mission.