November 28, 2007

Native enters off-limits roundhouse

Guilty verdict in Yosemite filming case Sonora artist Lorenzo Baca is facing big time trouble following his recording of the film "Yosemite Big Time."

During a trial that concluded earlier this month, Baca was found guilty of entering an off-limits Native American roundhouse in Yosemite National Park and making a commercial film in the park without a permit. He is facing up to a year in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Baca's crime, specifically: The 30-minute film shows Native American dance ceremonies, interviews with park employees and Baca entering "the cultural resources by stepping over official government signs directing persons to stay behind the barrier," the complaint states.

A park ranger said Baca entered the roundhouse in Yosemite Valley's Indian Village and narrated the film while inside. Entering the roundhouse and sweat lodge is limited to ceremonial use. The buildings are posted with signs advising the public to "stay behind the barrier," and entrances are blocked with barricades, according to the complaint. adds:This isn't Baca's first time in federal court. The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians successfully sued him for making and selling unauthorized audio and video recordings of a ceremony.Comment:  Baca, who is Pueblo and Apache, is a former PEACE PARTY advisor. Oops.

His argument is that some white guy built the roundhouse--that it isn't Native or sacred or special. If so, he has no compelling reason to violate the rules and film there.

Baca doesn't seem to have much regard for ceremonial restrictions. That's uncool for anyone, but especially for a Native.


Anonymous said...

Concerning this story. Here is something most people don't know, but that roundhouse in Yosemite was built in the mid 1970s. There was no roundhouse when the white Mariposa Battalion entered Yosemite. Also there was really NO Yosemite Miwoks as been falsely written for years. The original Indians of Yosemite were Mono Paiutes. The Miwoks were actually the scouts for the white miltia and helped capture Paiute Chief Tenaya. The Miwoks co-opted the history of Yosemite as their own and they are not the real original Indians of Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy.

Rob said...

If people read the original article, they know about the roundhouse:

"The roundhouse is just a replica, a tourist attraction, that was built in 1973 by a white guy under the direction of another white guy," [Baca] said.

But that's no excuse for ignoring the posted warning. The roundhouse could be off-limits for several reasons. Maybe the construction was shoddy and the rangers don't want it crashing down on someone.

My tolerance for breaking rules designed to protect the park and its environs for future generations is low. If Baca felt it was necessary to film inside the roundhouse, he should've gotten permission.