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Camp Meeker Beat - September 2015

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Camp Meeker Beat - September 2015

by Tom Austin

I promised you an Indian LegendTM last month. Here goes. It’s a barn-burner. It might take more than one column to do it right. It’s got everything: a strong-willed princess, a flight from an arranged marriage, magical rocks, a Romeo and Juliet subplot, a brave and loyal buddy, and a battle scene for the last reel, complete with bows and arrows. It all happened right under our noses, historically speaking. Big thanks to Katie Everbeck of St. Dorothy’s, who turned me on to this red hot lead. 

I need to paint the lay of the land first. If you go down to Point Reyes Visitor Center, among the reed baskets you will find a pretty low-resolution map showing the borders of the Pomo and Miwok tribes. You have to squint real hard and guess real good to know exactly where the border is, but my real good guess is that Dutch Bill Creek was that border. It was probably a pretty fluid situation.     So let’s just say this was the Miwok facing off against the Pomo. The Pomo tribe, led by Chief Pomotan, camped down in lush Coleman Valley, probably right at that picturesque spot where the old-timey one room schoolhouse building sits.      The Miwok boys hung out in the Westminster Woods region. I don’t know the name of their chief, but his son (that’s your Romeo, for those following along at home) was Nohetowa. I guess we’ll call Dad NoNameowa. Let me apologize in advance; I’m just spitballin’, here.  

Anyway, Nonameowa was Pomotan’s big rival. Pomotan claimed vast areas of what is now west Sonoma County as his hunting and fishing grounds. Nonameowa disputed this claim, and therein lied the enmity.

All right, back to our story. Pomotan, (he’s your Tywin Lannister character), arranged a marriage between Newana and Blue Feather, probably cementing his hold on acorn futures or something. Newana, strong-willed and fair of feature, was not pleased. She vented to her BFF Little Owl, and Little Owl and his mother Ketowa hatched a plan. They would fly by night and sneak along the ridgetops to NoNameowa’s tribe and find sanctuary there, because the enemy of my enemy is my friend (learned that one from Littlefinger.)

But first…a magical rock. Well, a ceremonial one. Newana and Little Owl went to the ceremonial rock, which is on the ridgetop where the Casassa Ranch was in 1966 (according to the Press Democrat article Katie forwarded on to me). Near Ocean Song, maybe? Help me out here, old-timers! According to Edith Sheller’s Press-Demo article, “Water still drips from the Indian spring onto the ancient ledge where Little Owl and Newana paused before continuing on the Moccasin Trail.”

So that’s where I will leave the cliff-hanger for next month: Newana and Little Owl leave the Ceremonial Rock to walk northward on the Moccasin Trail as the sun dips below the horizon,an angry father and a jilted suitor behind them, as they embark on a dangerous plan to walk brazenly into the enemy camp and say howdy.Roll credits, and here are some scenes from next month’s “Game of Acorns.”In the special features section of the DVD, local historical experts will no doubt correct me on what are undoubtedly manifold gross errors.