Monday, May 25, 2020


... remembering (and sharing) forgotten histories ...

California’s own “Trail of Tears” crosses Mendocino Pass where Glenn, Tehema and Mendocino Counties come together.  Stretching from embarkation points (like Camp Far West – now inundated – in Yuba County), native peoples from the valley and Sierran foothills – Maidu, Yana, Konkow, Wintu, Nomlaki, among others – were forcibly marched along this route to a reservation in what is now known as Round Valley.  Their story is devastatingly tragic.

Fifty years ago, with an old sheepherder from our neighborhood, Mom and Dad took the family to camp annually at the base of a high-county glade perhaps three miles distant from the pass. Sleeping under billions of stars, for several Memorial Day weekends, we heard the tales from the old sheep man who, as a kid, summered livestock up that way: tales of hustling sheep up the Grindstone Trail using old Model Ts, of mountain lions taking one or two head a week, of Saturday night “hooplas over ta Smith Camp...”

I only found out about the “Trail of Tears” while working on the Maidu Interpretive Center, a first-peoples museum built next to an elementary school where I once served in Roseville.  That discovery prompted me to try to find our old camp spot, which after several attempts, I did.  It turns out: the road to our old stompin’ ground IS the old “California Trail of Tears.”

I have long wanted to take a couple of next generations to that pristine and sacred spot and share some of the old man’s stories (and, now, a few more) with my children and grandchildren.  

Mom died in October of ’17.  On Memorial Day weekend, those newer generations met at the sheep camp to set Mom free and to hear a story or two.  

Returning home, a mark was checked next to an entry on this old man’s bucket list.  A dream had come true.  I hope they’ll visit again...

(c) 2020
Church of the Open Road Press

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