Tish Tang Falls Article Has Hoopa Tribal Members Worried
Chairman: ‘No Picture Please, in Fact, no Tresspassing’
By Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune Contributing Writer
A photo of Tish Tang Falls recently published in the Times-Standard has locals worried that kayakers will flock to the sacred site, exploit its beauty and disrespect its exclusive ceremonial value.
Hoopa Tribal Chairman Leonard Masten said he was inundated Friday with calls from tribal members who are concerned about the photo, which shows a German kayaker navigating the 70-foot drop on Tish Tang Creek.
“Folks need to realize that our roads and waterways that are off of the Valley floor are closed to the public and violators will be cited with trespassing if they are caught,” Masten said. “Not only that, but this site is sacred to our people, held in secret and should not be exploited in any way. I hope outsiders understand and respect that without taking offense.”
During a phone interview Friday, Masten pledged to increase Tribal Police patrolling in the Tish Tang creek area to protect the site.
“I doubt the kayakers understood or considered the severe impacts their adventure could have on the Hoopa people,” Masten said. “I’m sure they wouldn’t have visited if they had known. This is an excellent opportunity to remind folks that we are a sovereign nation and have laws intended to protect our sacred sites and cultural resources.”
The Hoopa Valley Tribe’s trespass law, Title 15, signed in 1989, states that the reservation is closed, meaning its resources are only meant for the beneficial use of Hoopa Tribal members. To clarify, the reservation is closed off of the Valley floor. Non tribal members found off the Valley floor can legally be cited for trespassing.
Masten said that many tribal members were dismayed and curious about how the kayakers found and accessed the site as the trail is difficult to find and navigate. It is rumored that the kayakers put in at an access point a ways above the falls and navigated down the creek.
Calls to the photographer, Wes Schrecongost and Arcata kayaker, Paul Gamache were not returned by press time.
Hoopa people have lived in the Hoopa Valley and continue to use the same sacred sites their ancestors used for at least 10,000 years. Tish Tang falls is one of those sites.
Only a few tribal members alive today have visited the site. Although a few women have reportedly visited the site, most culturally knowledgeable folks will tell you it’s taboo for women to visit there.
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