This whole Indian casino in Napa Valley controversy, and the residents reeling in indignation just cracks me up…
[Image is borrowed from the Native Americans Website]
From their site: First People is a child friendly site about Native Americans and members of the First Nations. 1400+ legends, 400+ agreements and treaties, 10,000+ pictures, clipart, Native American Books, Posters, Seed Bead Earrings, Native American Jewelry, Possible Bags and more.
I’m an outsider to California, so I see things with a different pair of eyes, I’m betting…
When the Spanish came into Napa Valley, they saw natives and called them guapo… Spanish for handsome is “guapo.” Wappo stuck…
I got to do a lot of reading while I worked for Robert Mondavi Winery, the only job I ever had where reading on the job was highly encouraged. Our wine education and sharing what we were reading benefited everyone, as we used our “down time” this way. One of my favorite books was “Old Napa Valley, the History to 1900,” by Lin Weber. From the first paragraph in Chapter One (page 3) to the last page of the book (p. 260), there are references to the Wappo tribe. So, basically, the entire book is about the natives and the intruders.
Several years ago, archaeologists exploring a dry, dusty dig at Borax Lake in Lake County, California, found traces of ancient hunters who may have made their home there as much as 12,000 years ago. (Yolande Beard, The Wappo-A Report, self published, St. Helena, CA 1977, p. 1, and page 1 of the Old Napa Valley…” book.) They left bits of hard evidence about their lives everywhere, including on the fertile alluvial plain that would one day be called the Napa Valley. (Old Napa Valley book continuing.) p. 1
All told there were probably about 1,650 in the Valley itself when the missionaries came in the 1830s and 4,600 in the general are, including both sides of Mount St. Helena.” p. 6
The native people of the Napa Valley walked wherever they went, and many of the roads in the Napa Valley follow old native footpaths… The Silverado Trail and Spring Mountain Road, for example, are ancient Wappo routes… as is Langtry Road on Spring Mountain in St. Helena. Butts Canyon Road north of Pope Valley, Hardin Road in the Chiles Valley are and Monticello Road in Napa all follow or parallel roads walked by the indigenous peoples of Napa County. p. 9
Old Napa Valley was Wappo territory… Then came the Spanish. Mariano Vallejo ~ a Mexican ~ was a particularly brutal brute; and, the gold diggers weren’t much better, taking away their land as squatters… (Whoever came up with the phase “Indian giver” should be ashamed of himself, considering it is we who were “Intruder takers.”)
It’s now just a couple hundred years later. Intruders took away their ability to live as peacefully as they were so doing, hunting, fishing, gathering… We, as a people, put Native Americans onto reservations, where they were kept in abject poverty… Then, one day something happened… they managed to get reparations, backed by a few supporters who saw what had happened for what it truly was, the stealing of their land/territories by intruders.
So now, the only way the Wappos can easily make money is to take advantage of the spirit of human beings… their ability to take risks. Las Vegas has been doing it for years, and nobody’s cared. It’s out in the desert and no really serious day-to-day mercantilism seems to happen there. It’s just people throwing their money away, for the most part, calling it entertainment.
Suddenly, along come the Wappos wanting to again take advantage of their land, the way intruders had done so many years ago, and the new “natives” are getting up in arms.
One person lamented in the Napa Valley Register, Letter to the Editor :
It is obvious that the Mishewal Wappo, if recognized as a tribe with sovereign rights in the Napa Valley, intend to build a casino.
The opening of a casino here would irreparably harm the integrity of our valley’s winemaking culture and economy. This culture and economy are integral to the livelihoods of local residents, and also to a range of incredibly good philanthropic works.
Any for the Wappo, I wonder…
I guess everyone’s going to have to just “get over it,” as the natives had to. Turn about fair play, ladies and gentlemen…
- Napa County tossed out of Wappo tribal lawsuit (napavalleyregister.com)
- Casino development impacts our culture (napavalleyregister.com)