While ICN has always provided safe haven to intertribal indigenous communities, It gained state-wide, national public attention in the 1980s by the efforts of Ann-Marie. Deciding to build her home on the site where she currently lives (located in ICN), Ann-Marie was informed that the land fell under Bureau of Land Management (BLM) jurisdiction and wasn’t among the inherited land. Notably, this land, a mere mile from the recorded canyon entrance, back at least 4,200 years, was considered by generations to be her ancestral land; it was where Sebastian, his grandmother, and her grandmother lived. Ann-Marie was aghast. This unceded land of her ancestors was only under US government control due to war crimes against Indigenous Peoples. Lacking money for land purchase, she visited the BLM office near Sacramento, invoking the Allotment Act of 1887 to reclaim her ancestral land. She was informed this one-hundred-year-old act had requirements she couldn’t possibly meet: showing the ability to generate income sufficient for self-sustainability; wouldn’t be allowed a secondary residence; would have to graze without irrigation aid, etc. Ann-Marie was determined to be successful in the reclamation of fuller access to her ancestral homeland, including ceremonial, sacred sites. After a strenuous 8-year legal battle, she emerged victorious with her own trust allotment. She continued to welcome all Indigenous people to ICN as a safe haven to conduct traditional ceremonies and rekindle Traditional Ecological Knowledge; she also broadened the invitation to non-indigenous people for community-building and spiritual practices.
Today, a beacon of hope and resilience for all California Native people and for responsible and accountable non-native community members, ICN is a place to gather, practice traditions and connect with ancestors; educate the public about culture and history; work towards better futures for local communities. The land, tribal community, and this amazing public resource… are at risk.
In April 2022, tribal-elder Ann-Marie was hospitalized. Her daughter, Kanyon, risking bodily harm, rescued Ann-Marie from a toxic, violent caretaker. The “caretaker,” a vagrant, manipulated Ann-Marie’s kind nature; using threats, aggression, and intimidation, forced Kanyon off her ancestral land. Ann-Marie was sympathetic, telling Kanyon, “She’s helping me and I care about her, and she has no place to go.” The dynamic quickly turned manipulative and toxic, with Ann-Marie failing to recognize this or the level of abuse she was enduring. Kanyon, feeling unwelcome and unsafe at ICN for the first time in her life, visited her mother as often as possible. She watched Ann-Marie’s health deteriorate over the next five years. Fearing her mother’s life was in danger, Kanyon gathered a group of her allies to stage an intervention and rescue Ann-Marie. While Ann-Marie (wheelchair-bound, unable to walk from muscle atrophy) was being moved to a car for an emergency room visit, the caretaker assaulted two of Kanyon’s allies, punching and biting one, and defiled an abalone shell (sacred to Mutsun people) to draw blood from the other. Ann-Marie’s condition was dire. She had: anemia, needing two blood transfusions; blood in her prefrontal cortex from an untreated, unreported head wound; shoulder dislocation from another unreported, untreated injury; intestinal bleeding; mental fog; and confusion. Nearly a half-year in rehab followed before returning home. The toxic caretaker is currently removed from the land, however, she continues to make contact, recently leaving a note, “I’m still here.”
Seeking legal assistance to save Ann-Marie and ensure the caretaker’s return would be disallowed, Kanyon was taken advantage of by a con-artist, falsely representing himself as a lawyer, receiving donation funds for the CIR meant to fund the care of two elders in failing health, off-the-grid land maintenance, and self-sustainability establishment.
Neighboring vineyard landholders threaten to encroach on the land. Water’s taken from the land, impacting natural resources, ecological diversity, and access to ceremonial/sacred sites. The actions, utterances, and posturing of one neighbor cause deep concerns of unneighborly machinations to claim ICN land, repeating the settler colonial violence of entitled land grabbing that has beset the Indigenous American Tribes since first contact.
ICN is currently burdened by the devastating aftermath of the “Pineapple Express” storm from March of 2023. ICN’s creeks overflowed, and flooding led to infrastructural damage, destroying the main entry road, access to multiple cultural heritage/sacred sites, and suffered structural damage requiring roof repair and maintenance on compromised electrical systems. ICN has needed infrastructural updates for some time; the recent flooding makes this urgent. Beyond repairs, ICN must expand off-the-grid infrastructure (i.e., its 20-year-old+ solar-electric system needs replacement) to support its residents.
Elders, Ann-Marie and Chris are retired and require caretakers for meals, to build fires, tend the cabin, replace the gasoline and propane, ensure the water tank is full and pumped as needed to guarantee running water, etc., and sometimes need help to get up or bathe. The tribal family needs funding for greatly needed care and ADA-compliant domiciles to ensure elders’ safety.
CIR plays a vital role in supporting ICN and its mission. Through its programs and initiatives, CIR promotes cultural heritage preservation, education, and community development. They offer tours of ICN, lectures, workshops, and other events to educate the public about the California Natives and their traditions.
CIR is also involved in land restoration projects, working to restore the native plant species and habitats of ICN. They have also launched a language revitalization program to preserve and rebuild the currently dormant Mutsun language. Kanyon has self-published a Mutsun-language coloring book focused on educational language revitalization. Approximately 900 copies have been sold. While she is planning to self-publish more, she would benefit greatly from a partnership with a publishing house or another printing service.