Saturday, 04 February 2023

Nome Cult Trail commemorations begin Saturday

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – On Saturday, Sept. 8, the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians will sponsor a traditional Native American cultural gathering in Paskenta from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to commemorate the 144th anniversary of the Nome Cult Trail, the forced relocation of Indians from Chico across what is now the Mendocino National Forest to Round Valley in 1863.


Emergency crews fighting fires in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness have set up an incident base camp at the Paskenta Community Park where the Nome Cult gathering was previously scheduled to be held. The Nome Cult gathering has been moved to the nearby Elkins Elementary School, 2960 Elkins Road, in Paskenta. All times and activities remain the same as previously announced.


Next week, on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15, the Round Valley Indian Tribes will sponsor a gathering at the Round Valley Reservation in Covelo to mark the completion of the 12th annual retracing of the original 100-mile trek.


Descendants of Native Americans who took part in the original relocation and other supporters will walk all the way from Chico to Covelo starting Sunday, Sept. 9, descending down into Round Valley on Sept. 15.


The theme for the walk and gatherings is "Honor Their Memory … A Path Not Forgotten." All events are free and are open to the public.


The Paskenta gathering will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Paskenta Community Park with a program of historical presentations, followed by musical performances and a lunch. During the afternoon there will be performances by Native American dancers and singers, cultural demonstrations, and information on Passport in Time (PIT) excavations at sites on the Mendocino National Forest. Native American arts and crafts vendors will participate. Throughout the day there will be horseshoe and softball tournaments.


At the Covelo event, there will be presentations by the walkers and a meal, starting at about 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Tribal Building, 77826 Covelo Road. From Sept. 9 through 15 the walkers will retrace the original trail, camping out each night along the way. The tribes welcome the public to join them for all or any part of the walk and for the gathering in Covelo on Saturday afternoon.


The National Forest requests that people traveling the forest roads along the trail route be careful of the walkers to ensure their safety.


The removal of Indians from Chico to the Nome Cult Reservation in 1863 is one of the many forced relocations following the establishment of reservations in Northern California in the 1850s. Several different tribes were moved to the Nome Cult Reservation after it was established in Round Valley in 1856.


In September 1863, 461 Indians were marched under guard from Chico to the Nome Cult Reservation, nearly 100 miles across the Sacramento Valley and rugged North Coast Ranges. Only 277 Indians completed the journey. Some were killed, a few escaped, and others were left behind, too sick to go on.


Although the path itself has disappeared, this route is now called the Nome Cult Trail. The most grueling part of the trail passed through what is now the Mendocino National Forest. The Forest Service has marked places where the Indians and their military escorts camped by placing interpretive signs along the route. The Forest Service has also prepared a free brochure and trail map which is available from Mendocino National Forest offices for persons who may want to travel the route.


This year the walkers, many of whom are descendants of those who made the trek in 1863, will begin west of Chico at at the Irvine Finch Park at River Road and State Highway 32 at 6 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9. They will walk west on State Highway 32 and camp at the Buckhorn Campground at Black Butte Lake the first night. For the remainder of the week they will walk across the Mendocino National Forest, following the Nome Cult Trail.


Their planned schedule is:


  • Monday, Sept. 10, camp at Paskenta (evening gathering at Grindstone Rancheria).

  • Tuesday, Sept. 11, camp at Black Bear Campground.

  • Wednesday, Sept. 12, camp at Log Springs.

  • Thursday, Sept. 13, camp at Wells Cabin Campground.

  • Friday, Sept. 14, camp at Eel River Campground.

  • Saturday, Sept. 15, walk into Round Valley.


The Round Valley Tribes will welcome the walkers with a gathering and potluck dinner at the Tribal Administration Building in Covelo on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15.


For further information on the September 8 Paskenta event, please contact Kim Freeman, Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians at (530) 680-3842; or Phebe Brown at the Mendocino National Forest, (530) 934-3316, TTY (530) 934-7724. For further information on the Covelo event and the re-enactment walk, please contact Alberta Azbill at (707) 983-6126, Rema Lincoln at (707) 983-6188, EXT 30, at Round Valley Tribes; or Arlene Ward, Chico Mechoopda Tribe, at (530) 899-8922.


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