Injustice served: Judge refuses to grant Temporary Restraining Order, allows violations to continue

Today in court, Judge Harry Elias denied the request of Luiseño tribes for a Temporary Restraining Order and gave Palomar College the green light to continue desecrating the village and burial grounds of Tomkav. A report from the day will be posted soon.

Meanwhile, here is another video from the February 23rd 6:30am bulldozing of open grave-sites at Tomkav, depicting Palomar College’s “exceptionally culturally sensitive” approach that was highlighted in court today:

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Hearing for Temporary Restraining Order will continue tomorrow

This morning’s hearing for the Temporary Restraining Order sought by the San Luis Rey band to halt work at Tomkav was attended by about 20 tribal representatives. The judge heard preliminary comments by the attorneys of Palomar College and San Luis Rey.

Palomar College agreed not to allow work in the area for 24 hours while the case is being heard. The judge asked to have 24 hours to review all the paperwork, and court will reconvene tomorrow at the Vista Courthouse (Dept. 25), 9:30am.

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Early Morning Desecration of Tomkav Burial Grounds 2/23/12

This is one of many cell-phone videos taken by tribal members early Thursday morning, when American Pride and Balfour Beatty Construction illegally bulldozed over the burial and village grounds of Tomkav.

Elders stood at watched in horror while other tribal members ran out in front of bulldozers to save what they could of the grounds. Towards the end of the footage, you can see the bulldozer operator grinning before he turns his head away. According to San Luis Rey attorney Merri Lopez-Keifer, the operators were “laughing about what was happening, high-fiving when they were finishing, and you know, making the pump motion with their hands to say whoo-hoo we did a great job.”

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Interview with Tobias Stoneburner, Cahuilla

Tobias, a young Cahuilla man, spent days volunteering at Tomkav as a monitor, keeping watch over the burial grounds and sleeping in his truck overnight to catch any early-morning attempts to further bulldoze the site. Filmed at Tomkav on 2/25/12.

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Monday AM Update from the Land

Excavating and grading activities began again this morning, though some distance away from the burial sites that tribal members are standing ground to protect. Fencing crews (United) showed up with a large truck full of chain-link and began fencing the entrances to the site. Caltrans was also on site, because the road they are fencing is the old 76 highway route and has a Cal-Trans right-of-way.

CalFire and the local Fire Department showed up again because somebody called them to “report” the sacred fire. They left without incident after acknowledging that the small, contained fire was safe, especially because weather conditions make this a “burn day”. Sherrifs drove by a few times this morning, making their first visit to the vigil site. They spoke with a friendly demeanor, asking lots of questions and gathering information.
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Sunday, Feburary 26th Update – 24-hour vigil continues

Today there was a large community gathering at Tomkav, and for once everyone could draw a clear breath. Bird-song and a light breeze in the trees had replaced the grinding, pounding, and scraping sounds of heavy equipment desecrating the land. Many songs, prayers, and words of inspiration were shared throughout the day, with drum, rattle, and clapper-stick. About 60 people had gathered as the afternoon drew on, mostly from the seven Luiseño bands and other surrounding tribes.
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Interview with Merri Lopez-Keifer, San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians

Who are you and whats your relationship to this project?

My name is Merri Lopez-Keifer. I’m the legal counsel for the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. I’m also a tribal member of the San Luis Rey band. There are seven bands to the Luiseno nation–from the Soboba in the mountains to Pauma, La Jolla, Pala, Rincon, Pechanga and San Luis Rey.

This is an area that they are proposing to put a major thoroughfare–a road leading to housing for thousands of people and a new Palomar College satellite campus. Its going on top of what is known to Luiseno as Tomkav.

Tomkav is an area where the Luisenos, the First People in our belief, lived and they learned important things about who they are, their religious beliefs, and their cultural beliefs. The most important lesson learned here in Tomkav is that we are all mortal Continue reading

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