Kevin Mckiernan accompanied Willard and sons to the Wounded Knee Memorial. Return soon for more about the trip and documentary that will be produced.
We have a new video of the project. Click here to view and download Reviving the Old Ways: Blue Creek - Ah Pah Traditional Yurok Village.
In case you missed it, the New York Times has published a very nice article about the village project- A Vision of Reviving Tribal Ways in a Remote Corner of California. The project is dependent on volunteer labor and donations. Your donations are greatly appreciated. Thank You!
Thanks to the hard work of the crews from the Northern California Indian Development Council (NCIDC), Klamath River Early College of the Redwoods and Dell'Arte, funding from Alliance for California Traditional Arts and the help of many volunteers, the Brush Dance Pit is nearly complete. We've added some new photos of the work - more photos and video to follow. Thanks to all for your support of and interest in the project.
The Idea Behind the Project
The earth and its peoples are facing multiple threats. Indigenous people always suffer the worst during these times. The Yurok people are threatened from without by the effects of climate change, diversions of their waters, collapse of the Salmon population, unaffordable energy, global economic troubles, land takings and misuse, peak oil, peak water. They are threatened from within by drugs, alcohol, cultural disintegration.
The Yurok people once lived within a network of sustainable self-sufficient villages. Our village will find solutions to today's problems and their effects and serve as an example for others to follow through becoming self-sufficient and sustainable, cultural preservation and renewal, community building, ecological stewardship and individual renewal and healing. Click here for our complete mission statement.
The idea for Blue Creek - Ah Pah Traditional Yurok Village began several years ago when Willard Carlson Jr. was in the Friendship House rehabilitation program in San Francisco. Willard was near the end of the program and thinking about what to do next. He looked up and saw a street sign printed with the words, "Willard North" - this was a sign.
Willard knew then that he must return to his aboriginal home on the Klamath River. While traveling home and subsequently, he talked with his son, Per-gish, about starting a fishing and cultural tour service. This became Blue Creek Guide Service and is currently operated by Per-gish and Victoria Carlson. David Tripp of Hoopa/Yurok Vocational Rehabilitation Services helped set up this venture.
Later, Willard spoke with his late uncle Charlie Frye. Charlie told Willard that he must do everything he can to protect the land and the sacred High Country of the Yurok, Karuk and Tolowa peoples, where medicine people train to be doctors. They spoke of building a Brush Dance pit at Ah Pah.
Later yet, Willard met his cousin David Frye. Over several visits to the river, they talked about what uncle Charlie had said and Willard told David about his plans to build a traditional Yurok village at Ah Pah. The village would include redwood plank houses, a brush dance pit, sweat house, dressing rooms for participants, dining facilities and bathroom and shower facilities.
The village would focus upon rehabilitating the land, forests, river, salmon, ecosystems, habitat, culture, traditional and spiritual values, and the people. Not only Yuroks, but other people as well, would come and renew their cultural and spiritual roots. The village will eventually be self-sustaining.
The village would become a center for exploring various ways, both traditional and modern, to become self-sufficient and sustainable in such ways that are guided by, as well as enhance, the traditions and spirituality that are at the center of the Yurok lifeways. Once built, it would become a model for others to follow, building more villages upriver and downriver. Click here for the complete overview and history.
Recently we received a generous grant from the Northern California Indian Development Council (NCIDC). This grant has made it possible for us to bring students from the Klamath River Early College of the Redwoods to learn traditional skills as they work on the Brush Dance Pit. The students come each Friday afternoon from January 16, 2009 through May 15, 2009 and work with several Yurok elder / mentors. Click here for photos.
Learn more about donating to the project and volunteer opportunities