PATSIATA UPDATE

By Kathy Bancroft

Winter is the time for stories and remembering.  With the break in the projects throughout Payahuunadü because of the weather, it also gives me the time to think about what I could do better.  Am I thinking for the land? Am I thinking for the ancestors? Am I doing what is best for all the people and Tribes involved? It’s nice to see agencies consulting and trying to do what’s best for all.  But how can we educate better so that everybody sees the issues from the beginning?  

I am so proud of the work that people have put into the Federal Register nomination to make Patsiata (Owens Lake) a Historic District and Traditional Cultural Property.  Everybody from the interviewees to the ethnographers to the map makers have really put there all into making this document tell the story. I was so happy and proud the first time I read through the document.  At first, I couldn’t believe that somebody finally got the story correct. And then I remembered that it was this group of people who cared enough to illustrate the complete story and not just sensationalize events or promote their own view of history.  

The Federal Register Nomination is pretty much complete, but because it’s a federal process, there are still many details to work out.  It’s hard to be patient, because I see this as a tool to teach and help people understand how and why we need to take care of this land.  I want everybody to read it so they will understand why this place means so much to us and that we still carry that knowledge to protect not only this place, but others like it.  There is a wealth of knowledge still practiced by Indigenous people. It’s in our DNA, never to be forgotten. It’s time that it is taken seriously and enlisted to turn thinking around to actually save this planet.  

I believe that people are learning…sometimes with a gentle nudge and sometimes with a knock on the head. I believe that people really want to do the right thing.  Sometimes they just need to be reminded.  

Kathy Bancroft is an Elder of the Lone Pine Paiute Tribe and serves as both the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Representative, among many other duties.

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