Home / Local News / Mayor And City Manager of Trinidad Halt Civic Club’s Project Amid Lighthouse Occupation

Mayor And City Manager of Trinidad Halt Civic Club’s Project Amid Lighthouse Occupation

“The slide shows, they are nice, but we should probably talk about real issues that brought us here.”

Since early this morning different meetings took place between Trinidad’s City Council, their City Manager and local Tribal Councils.

At 2:00 p.m there was an open session at Trinidad’s Town Hall.

Various members of the Yurok Tribe and the Trinidad Rancheria’s Tribal Council were present, as well as The Tsurai Ancestral Society.

The Yurok Tribe were adamant that moving the lighthouse 22-feet was unacceptable and they would occupy the lighthouse until a stop-work order was issued.

These meetings come after six days of protest and occupation of Trinidad’s Memorial Lighthouse.

“There is only a couple of options. One option, the city and the Civic Club felt they had the legal right, is to move it over to this new foundation, it buys time,” Trinidad City Manager Dan Berman said at the open session.

The Civic Club who owns the property where the lighthouse sits, obtained an emergency-permit to move the lighthouse 22-feet because it is in danger of slipping off the bluff due to soil erosion.

“I don’t think any of us know how long until a landslide, but it gets us out of this crisis situation we have now. Then, there would be time to work with all members of the community to find a safe home for it. That’s not an easy process to design and look at. Setting it on a trailer, taking it somewhere, has something like a 50 or 70 thousand dollar price tag and those resources haven’t been identified.”

Although the Civic Club obtained a Cultural Monitor from the Trinidad Rancheria for their lighthouse move, they failed to consult with the Tsurai Ancestral Society, who have direct lineage to the lands.

Moving the whole piece even 22-feet requires a construction crane–something that needs to be brought into the area with an estimated cost of around $20,000.  However, the City and the Civic Club were lucky enough to borrow a crane from another local project.

“This was part of the motivation behind the move.”

“What are the plans for the base?” A Native man questioned. “The lighthouse is cut around it so are you just going to leave it there, or are you going to move the base? And if so, where are you going to move it to?”

An older man named Roland Johnson got up to answer the question. Johnson is a consultant and Trinidad native who seems to be somehow involved with the planning or oversight of the lighthouse project. He stated that there was no money in the budget to remove the structure and it would stay as is because it did not pose an immediate problem. “Move the lighthouse due to instability, to less instability,” he said.

“Less is not enough,” someone in the crowd responded.

“Wherever you want to move it, water is going around it or through it,” Axel Lindgren III said. He mentioned run-off water from septic tanks into the hillside as a factor which affects the proposed new location of the lighthouse.

“It is the Civic Club’s agenda that is being pushed. And since they are writing the paycheck, of course the contractor is going to try to accommodate whatever their wishes are,” a woman from the Tsurai Ancestral Society said.

“We had been asking for more information and were not given enough information to even formulate an opinion, until the emergency-permit was filed. We wanted this to go through a public process and you all were not interested in that. That is how we got here. The Coastal Conservancy told you not to do the project, the Coastal Commission has some concerns. The Tsurai Ancestral Society sent you a letter of opposition and you granted it anyways. If we are not going to talk about that, the slide-shows they are nice, but we should probably talk about real issues that brought us here.

A man from the Trinidad Rancheria raised his hand and said that if they were able to allocate funds for the move, the Rancheria is willing to put the lighthouse on a piece of property they own down by the pier.

The City Manager apologized to the Yurok Tribe and said that “better communication” could have happened.

“The city did not believe that ground disturbance was going to happen. I still should have reached out and I apologize about that,” Berman said.

The mayor of Trinidad said that the Rancheria’s proposal is one option that could work and she views it as something that everyone can work together to make possible.

The mayor stated that a stop-work order will not be issued but that no work will continue on the lighthouse as of now.

About slausongirl

Slauson Girl is a South Central native with a love for journalism, history and all things Hip-Hop. She has a degree in Critical Race and Gender Theory along with a minor in Journalism.

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6 comments

  1. The man that offered to put the lighthouse down by the pier is the Chairman of the Trinidad Rancheria. The Trinidad Rancheria was always in favor of moving the lighthouse to a new location off of the ancestoral grounds. Over 3/4 Trinidad Rancheria members are direct lineal decedents from the original village of Tsurai. TAS is a non profit 501c who are not a federally recognized tribe and only represent one family who descend from that village. But it must be noted that their decent is questionable at best. Trindiad Rancheria was formed in 1906 and ratified by Congress in 1907 to house 13 members of the Tsurai village and around 30-40 members of their family. The Yurok tribes borders of their rancheria only extends into Klamath and are far out of their jurisdiction as a Tribe. The notice to protect the lighthouse is under a guise to grab the land of the original village site and claim it as their own. TAS has been actively pursuing stewardship of the land and the Yurok tribe until just in the last week opposed their motives to obtain the land as they wanted it for themselves with no outside involvement. The chairman of the Yurok tribe will not directly speak with the chairman of the Trinidad Rancheria in an act of bad faith. The following press releases were issued back in March stating the intent to move the lighthouse and any interested parties could object to the said move. At the end of the day this is a disappointment as Trinidad Rancheria members are all of Yurok decent and this has turned into a tribe vs tribe matter even though they share the same blood. The Yurok tribes cultural monitor Onna had approved of the work back in March and had no objections. This moment was fuel by Chris Peters who is president at a non profit 501c Seventh Generation Indian Fund. Who is also not a federally recognized tribe. The only interested parties who should have been involved with the discussion is Trinidad rancheria tribal council, Yurok tribe tribal council along with the city of trinidad to end this chaos and disruption of the town. The land decry can be disputed at any later date. The lighthouse were it sits is not on any Graves or were the planned move was located either. The Graves that are in question sit below in the village site. Hope this information helps anyone else who has been mislead throught the chaos.

    • I think you are making up facts that cannot be supported. US census records support who lived in this area. Most of the families who live on Trinidad Rancherias move their in the late 1950s in response to an advertisement by the BIA of available homesites.

  2. The Yurok Tribe has and is Officially recognized by the US Federal Government as having first and foremost claim to ancestral territorial issues. Trinidad Rancherias willingly gave up those rights when they chose NOT to be Members of the Yurok Tribe. Talks between the Yurok Tribe and Trinidad Rancherias broke down when Trinidad Rancherias insisted that the Yurok Tribe grant them Special acknowledgement in the current Lands Legislation. They want fishing rights and cultural Authority that are only granted to the Yurok Tribe after many hard fought court battles. They are currently engaged in undermining the Cultural Authority of he Yurok Tribe, which will have far reaching negative impacts to All Indian Nations.
    The TAS has been the most vigilant group in preserving the Tsuria Village and again Trinidad Rancheria wants to swoop in and claim Authority. Seventh Generation Fund is a Nationally recognized organization that helps individuals and groups that can not or do not have the resources to battle large organizations or entities, such as casino owners.
    I can appreciate the history of the Trinidad Rancheria but they have Authority only to their Rancheria. Not to the Yurok Ancestral Territory. As a descendant of Wiyot, Wintune, Karuk and Yurok, my voice only matters in Yurok Tribal matters. Why ?? Because I had to choose my Tribal affiliation. Just as those of the Rancheria had to choose.

    • That’s funny when the Jessie Short case was settled and the split between Hoopa and Yurok tribes happened there was no legal language about selling your culture or fishing rights. The buyout only ment we could not be involved or apart of Yurok governmental affairs. Also nobody said the Yurok tribe is not federally recognized. Trindiad Rancheria is federally recognized also. The boundary for the Yurok tribe dose not exceed the Klamath in the language of the split. You can’t just make up Indian Law as you go along to suit your needs. Tell me how many people from the rancheria’s have been convicted of illegal tribal fishing on the Klamath? I’ll wait…. oh yah it’s zero. The fact is the Yurok tribe is broke. Like over 10 million dollars broke. You can thank Alan McKlosky for that information being leaked out. The Yurok tribe built that hotel in the middle of nowhere and is paying the price. Seventh Generation is supposed to help all native American people as is filed in their non profit language. Not just one tribe. They will be investigated and found in violation of their 501c standing for benefiting Chris Peters himself. There is no language in their manifesto that states non casino tribes only. If it did they violate the lobbying rules for a 501c. Also for the lands and legislation filing for the Yurok tribe how has that worked out for them? Reading rock was granted back to the rancheria’s. That sets precedence for any future land acquirement they plan for the future. Hence the Tsurai village. TAS has done nothing for the city financially to help protect the village except threaten and cause disorder. Trindiad Rancheria has been a key member in the schools and we’ll being of the entire township. As the southern most federally recognized tribe of Yurok decent the jurisdiction falls to them per language of the Hoopa and Yurok settlement . The move for the lighthouse was temporary to ensure the village below was not damaged by a slide and Trinidad Rancheria was for protection of the village and relocation to a safer place off of the civic club land. Only the city and the club could weigh in on that and hence the emergency permit arrived. Due to slow funding and opposition from TAS. The Yurok tribe had plenty of notice to interject but TAS and the Yurok tribe have had poor relations and TAS wanted the tribe to stay out of what they consider their land. The sad part about all of this is both tribes are of the same blood and families are being torn apart of both tribes. This will go down as the line that was drawn in the sand that forever destroyed the relationship between the tribes of the same people. Don’t be so proud of the mess that’s been created. As I am typing this it is beginning to rain. I pray to the creator that the lighthouse that is cut free does not fall down on my relatives below.

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