Where’s the justice for Grindstone?

Tim Crews is publisher and editor of the Glenn County-based Sacramento Valley Mirror newspaper, from which this is reprinted. Measure F on the June 6 ballot is an advisory measure on the Grindstone Rancheria’s proposal to build a casino near Artois.

While the half-truths and rumor-mongering of the No on Measure F groups continue with their barely disguised racist bile, one wonders where the ministers among them were over the last many generations of deprivation on the Grindstone Rancheria.

The narrow 3-2 vote of the Glenn County Board of Supervisors against supporting the band and its intent to build a multifaceted casino enterprise at Artois was mostly based on words like, “I’m all for them doing something, I just don’t want it to be gambling.”

And what were the suggestions from the Glenn County Board of Supervisors? Nada.

And what have been the suggestions from the supervisors over the last many generations? Nada.

And now come the Protestant ministers and pastors, the “moral leaders” of the community, hellfire and brimstoning us to death, standing by and watching lie after lie infuse poison into the political debate. Where were these men and women when Grindstone Indians had difficulty even getting to town for groceries—when they had a few dollars?

And where were these men and women of the cloth when young men like Ken Swearinger were trying to get to and from town to get training so that they could better themselves and their band? (He did get to and from, the hard way, walking and hitching, and is a retired operating engineer.)

And where were the moral leaders of Glenn County when the Indian Health Service ignored a completely failed sewage treatment system on the rancheria? Nowhere, as we recall. Raw sewage ran in the streets, and the Grindstone tribal leadership battled it as best they could with lime. It took stories sent to the federal authorities in San Francisco before the feds got off their butts and got the problem addressed. The band, you see, had not been given the autonomy to fix their own problems; that was left for the white man.

Where have the moral leaders of Glenn County, who are afraid, they say, of the dangers of casinos—although some are just 20 minutes north and 30 minutes south—where have these folks been to address the fact that the settlers stuck the annoying Indians on the most useless patch of gravel possible, 28 miles from Willows and 30 miles from Orland?

Were they on their knees praying for the Indians? Were they sending them gift baskets? Were they doing missions? Thundering from the pulpit about social responsibility?

Or is the moral leadership for the Grindstones not something that they have provided for themselves without the help of the Great White Preacher?