“We have been pointing out that the ground there has been moving for many years and they have been trying to hide that and ignoring our concerns. Now they need this emergency move because it is failing around the lighthouse? We’ve been telling them that all along.”- Axel Lindgren III.
For the past three days descendants of the Tsurai Yurok Village and those who stand with them in solidarity have occupied Trinidad’s Memorial Lighthouse in protest.
The protest come after an emergency-permit was granted to the Civic Club to move their replica lighthouse 22 feet to firmer ground.
On paper the land where the replica lighthouse sits belongs to Trinidad’s Civic Club. Historically, the lighthouse sits atop of the Tsurai’s ancestral village which include burial grounds nearby.
It is important to keep this fact in mind as it is this history, which is at the root of the controversy.
There is a wall near the lighthouse that has plaques of over 200 people who died or were buried at sea. Now there are people being commemorated on both sides, so how do you find mutual grounds of respect?
“[The land] was granted by the Earl Hallmark family in 1948 to recommission the bronze bell and the light lens with the understanding a memorial lighthouse would be constructed on it,” Patty Fleschner explained.
Fleschner is president of the ‘Save the Lighthouse’ committee which worked to fundraise $100,000 to move the replica lighthouse 22 feet.
The bluff where the lighthouse sits is being affected by erosion and the Civic Club was told by engineers that another winter with heavy rains, will further affect the land and puts the lighthouse in jeopardy of tumbling below.
“We do not want to do this, but it is being moved to a relatively safer place, recommended by geologist to save the lighthouse because it could very much fall down to the Tsurai grounds below,” Fleschner said.
The Tsurai Ancestral Society and the Yurok tribe are displeased with actions of an emergency permit being granted and they believe it was done in a way to bypass public input and scrutiny. Furthermore, they state they were not consulted regarding the Civic Club’s project.
The City of Trinidad is obligated by law to protect the 12.5 acre “study sites” and areas adjacent. The law also includes stipulations of soil disturbance as well as consulting with Native Americans on projects that are on, or near, the study sites.
Native American Cultural Monitors are sent to sites to ensure that cultural resources are not destroyed during the projects development.
In this case, the Civic Club decided to contract the Trinidad Rancheria–a move which inflamed well-known inner-tribal disputes and debates over ancestral territory.