Eagle is a symbol of vision, wisdom, strength and courage
THE IMPORTANCE OF
WALKING BACKWARDS means JUSTICE for Native Peoples
Critical Restorative Justice issues for indigenous peoples throughout the world include:
Eradicating Racism, Discrimination and the Oppression of Native Peoples, Protecting Native Water Rights, Protecting Sacred Sites and Native Lands, Preserving Native Cultures, Ceremonies and Languages, The Healing of Historical and Ancestral Trauma, Reforming Laws to Protect the Human Rights of Native Peoples
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Káruk woman with burden basket, 1923
Photo: Grace Nicholson Collection
The CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH brought genocide, disease and rampant environmental destruction, when almost 300,000 immigrants from all over the world flocked to the northwestern edge of the United States to make their fortune. After moving in, terrorizing, enslaving and then murdering numerous indigenous peoples, including the Káruk, whose ancestors had lived for thousands of years in the Klamath Region area, gold-crazed invaders - and the merchants and ranchers that followed - almost completely destroyed all ancient indigenous cultural practices, languages, ceremonies and traditional ways of life. At one point $5.00 bounties were put on the heads of Northern California Indians, forcing many people to flee into the mountains. Families were forever split apart when some of the women who had been widowed or were left behind, married nonNatives - sometimes just to keep themselves and their children from starving.
Years later, when reservations and laws were created to further control the Natives, and outright deceit was used to legally steal their lands, their water rights, and then their children (who were taken away to Indian Boarding Schools), a relentless depression filled the people. Despair and poverty became the norm and, in some cases, alcoholism took hold.
Indian "termination" became a policy of the United States during the mid-1940s - mid-1960s. It was shaped by a series of laws that were written to force the assimilation of Native Americans into mainstream American society and eliminate governmental services. It ultimately led to the loss of vast amounts of Native lands and water rights. [adapted from Wikipedia]
Today, descendants of the original Klamath River people are standing proud, "walking backwards" into their culture and into their future. Working hard to regain and uphold their status as California's most powerful Native tribe, more and more Káruk are participating in the traditional healing ceremonies and sacred dances, learning their ancestral language, remembering ancient wisdom teachings, and becoming strong advocates in the cultural education of their children.
Standing up for Justice and Honoring the Elders: Káruk elder Patrick Croy, Yreka, California
Historically, each Káruk village had a different responsibility, depending on its location on the Klamath River. Justice was handled within each village. Today, the Káruk Tribe is headquartered in HAPPY CAMP, CALIFORNIA and is governed by a tribal council of nine members.
Images (above) by Káruk artist Jimmy "Running Deer" Thom