First, let me state that I do not have a dog in this fight, but as a taxpayer, I do have an opinion. The Napa High School “tribe” wants to retain its representative name out of respect for the “first tribe” of immigrants to this valley. I believe them.
Many of us grieve for the Indians (yes, a name that is a historical anomaly, but it is in common use and I will leave the connotation/denotation argument to our fine English teachers). We admire their culture for living in harmony with nature and respecting the land, kind of like the original Ag Preserve. We pride ourselves in achieving a similar goal – our own Ag Preserve – a shared common ideal.
The true stakeholders in this debate are the “first tribe,” remnants of the Mishewal Wappo tribe and other forbearers, and the “second tribe,” current and former members of the Napa High School Indian family. This is where the dialog belongs. Any others involved are ax-grinders with their own agenda. Period.
If we really want to honor the Indians, past and present, we have a wonderful opportunity to do so. Maybe this is a time when our overseeing group of problem-solvers, the Board of Supervisors, would lend a hand. The Mishewal Wappo tribe wants recognition and the board had valid concerns about a casino in the Ag Preserve. OK – be proactive.
Lake Berryessa has struggled for consistent vitality, so recognize and work with the tribe to find an area that could benefit all parties and naturally locate a casino there. This would help protect the Ag Preserve, help the tribe, and probably make the lake more sustainable, if done right.
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By right, I mean a negotiated contract (partnership) between the county and the tribe, with the profits designated first for roads and the lake, second the tribe and their legitimate needs; third the surrounding environment; and any leftover that particular year, for charity.
Can you imagine this? A county with an Ag Preserve and an Indian cooperative, mutually beneficial venture that helps restore the tribe, the environment, and taxpayer needs – without moneyed interests directing the outcomes. I can.
For something this scale, the board of supervisors may need to engage in some transformative thinking, but they have the talent to possibly make this happen. Diane Dillon has the experience, intelligence, skill set, and vision to oversee such a project. But it would need to be her only project. Something of this scale and magnitude could not be diluted.
If the Napa Valley Unified School District superintendent and board continue to insist [on the mascot change], over the will of the people, then remove them through the democratic process and replace them with candidates who respect the Napa High School Indian tribe and bring them back once these people are gone.
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