I am a member and elder of the Wintu Tribe of Northern California. My Indian grandmother, Arnie Greer Brookins, came to Napa over 110 years ago. My Indian father, Delbert Greer Brookins, was born in Napa 100 years ago; I was born in Napa 75 years ago. All of my family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings lived here in Napa.
The following is the history of our Wintu Tribe that my father taught us, most of which never made its way into history books:
The Wintu Tribe ranged from American Canyon to Mt. Shasta and Chief Solano was a Wintu.
In the mid-1700s, during the French and Indian wars, the French scalped their enemies; this was not an Indian activity.
In 1829, Andrew Jackson became President and decreed that Indians were vermin and needed to be exterminated. He decided the French way of scalping was a good thing and agreed to pay for all the Indian scalps that could be gathered.
In the 1830s, The Indian Removal Act produced the "Trail of Tears" where a great many of the Indians perished along the way.
Then there was Custer, hired to kill as many Indians as possible. That was not happening fast enough, so Buffalo Bill was hired to kill all of the buffalo, as they were the food supply for the Indians. This was followed by the settlers, the 49ers, and then the small pox-covered blankets given to the Indians.
Lastly, Indian schools were developed where Indian children were kidnapped from their families and sent to schools to become like white people. Since Indians are unable to metabolize alcohol, it was the final assault on our people.
We historically are reluctant to identify as Indians because it was, and still is, dangerous to identify as an Indian. That does not mean that we are not proud of our heritage. Now we live among you and you would never know, unless we identify ourselves.
To us, as my father advised, as long as the Napa Indian was respected and loved, then all of the above did not succeed. We are still here; despite it all, we are here and each athlete that takes the field in the Indian uniform shows that we know we are still here.
Hasteem: a greeting or "thank you" from our Wintu Tribe.