This research began with the hypothesis that "activism," in the Freirian sense, of turning anger towards oppression outward to make change, rather than letting it fester or turning it on one's self and community,1 is a manifestation of "healing" from intergenerational trauma. With a situated, participatory approach, I study Mountain Maidu efforts to access, protect, and steward natural resources in Plumas and Lassen counties 2 during the Allotment Era, and the 1960s-present. The following questions guide the research:
What are the ways Maidu people fought to protect/access resources (during these periods)? Are there patterns or trends over time?
How do Maidu governance structures both manifest and constrain Maidu activism?
How do Maidu efforts to access and protect natural resources relate to a process of healing from intergenerational trauma?
Allotment Era activism is characterized by individuals and families advocating for limited land rights. Activism during and following the Civil Rights era is exhibited in litigation over contested sites, cultural revival, and group efforts—of federally recognized Rancherias, petitioning Tribes, Native non-profits, extended families, or consortiums consisting of all of the above, with external allies. The fact that the Mountain Maidu community is divided between members and non-members of federally recognized tribes has profound effects on the legitimacy, inclusivity, and effectiveness of contemporary activism. Consortiums that bring all groups together stand to be the most successful, but are rent by external and internal challenges.
I link the political ecology approach of studying the intertwined nature of political economy (in terms here of both internal Maidu governance and its location within a larger political-economic system) and the environment, to identifying and responding to intergenerational trauma in a colonial context. This dissertation consists of three larger case studies: the Maidu Summit's work to gain ownership of divested PG&E lands; a GIS map and geodatabase of 576 Indian allotment parcels in Plumas and Lassen counties; and litigation over Soda Rock involving Maidu plaintiffs and defendants. I describe and critique participatory action research, as used in tandem with methods including interviews, focus groups, archival review, participant observation, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
1Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Seabury Press: New York. 1970. 2Located adjacent to one another in northeastern California, at the junction of the Sierras and the Cascades.