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Toyon to become Indian territory
Redding (Calif) Record-Searchlight
Thursday, May 27, 1971
R.S. Staff Writer

Wintu and Pit River Indians and Indians of All Tribes won a peaceful victory Wednesday in their fight to take over the former Toyon Job Corps Center in Central Valley.

Confrontation gave way to negotiations when the federal government backed off from a hard-line "no-talk" policy.

A settlement reached after a day-long session between Indians, The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Shasta County Action Project is to turn title to the 61-acre site over to the Indians within two years.

As a first step the BIA gave CAP a permit to administer and maintain the land.

CAP and the Indians are to have 90 days to present their program for the use of the site and get enough money to keep it maintained in its present "mothballed" condition.

Over the next two years Indians and CAP are to work together to bring those programs to life. At the end of that time CAP and the BIA are to recommend the title to the land be given to the Free Indians and the Wintu Nation.

The negotiations Wednesday represented a turn-about of a firm BIA policy not to talk with the Indian occupiers of Toyon unless they ended the occupation.

Wes Barker, acting area director of the BIA, said the entrance of CAP into the negotiations represented the turning point for the BIA.

"The CAP involvement was the essential factor for the reasons of bookkeeping and fiscal responsibility," he said. "This is exactly the same type of agreement we entered into with the Inter-Tribal Council of California. They're a CAP organization, too."

Barker was referring to an earlier plan of the BIA to give the Toyon center to the ITC.  That was before a task force of 12 men and two women representing the Wintu Nation and Free Indians of All Tribes occupied the center Friday afternoon.

But Barker apparently had to do some high-powered negotiating of his own with his superiors in Sacramento and Washington to be able to talk with the Indians.

The BIA's attitude earlier had been they would "not want to deal with  people they consider to be in civil disobedience and, in fact, criminal trespass," according to a spokesperson for the Shasta County district attorney's office.

But, said Barker, "it became rapidly evident to us that this was an imminently reasonable group of people. We were not empowered to go on Toyon and negotiate any settlement that would take place under duress. But they were willing to go halfway and meet us here in town."

The meetings took place in the offices of William Emmal, director of the Shasta County Legal Aid Society and go-between in negotiations for the Indians with the BIA.

All parties described the talks as being "clear, deliberate and tough."

"I think that's why we got where we did," said Ed Forbes, director of CAP. "Everybody showed up here willing to listen and willing to trust, so some business got done."

Forbes said he expects a mixture of federal, state, foundation and church funds eventually to be used for the project.

He said it will cost about $40,000 a year to maintain the center as it is now.

Indian spokesmen said they were happy with the settlement.

"Ever since we got the land, there was the attitude the land was ours," said Pit River Indian spokesman Darryl Wilson. "I think the land accepted us. It had to be."

"This is a good settlement," said Chris Ryan, spokesperson for the Wintu Nation. "But we'll never be happy till the land is ours."

As the Indians left Emmal's office around 5:30  p.m., Pit River Indian Mildred Rhoads walked up to Barker of the BIA and shook his hand.

"I never thought I'd be shaking the hand of a BIA man," she said.

The Toyon center has been vacant since May 1969 when it was closed as a Job Corps Center by Nixon administration cut-backs.


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