Yurok Tribe supports Humboldt Planning Commission’s decision to reject for-profit cannabis permit in ceremonial area
Numerous representatives from the Yurok Tribe, including members of the Tribal Council, cultural resource protection staff and esteemed Tribal elders, will be attending the September 3rd, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting to voice their support for the Humboldt Planning Commission’s decision to deny a permit for commercial cannabis cultivation within a ceremonial area.
On February 8, 2019, the Humboldt Planning Commission rejected Bluff Creek Company Inc.’s application for a for-profit marijuana growing operation within the Yurok Tribe’s Ke’Wet Ceremonial District. The application was denied because it presented clear violations of the county’s Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance. The company appealed the planning commission’s decision to the board of supervisors, which will make a final determination on the petition at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday of next week.
“This or any other type of commercial venture has no business being anywhere near our sacred sites,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “Affirming the Planning Commission’s decision is the only option that is consistent with the county’s regulations.”
The county’s Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance prohibits cannabis cultivation within 600 feet of a Tribal Ceremonial Site. Occupying a parcel near Weitchpec and within yards of the Klamath River, the Bluff Creek Company’s permit is for a well-established, commercial marijuana growing endeavor that is entirely within the Ke’Wet Ceremonial District.
“The Yurok Tribe will push back against any commercial enterprise that has the potential to cause negative impacts on our cultural and environment resources, especially those within our Ke’Wet Ceremonial District,” said Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribe’s Vice Chairman. “The planning commission made the correct call and it was an easy one to make given the circumstances.”
The Ke’Wet Ceremonial District encompasses the approximate area around Weitchpec Mountain. The Tribe formed the District to permanently preserve a substantial set of culturally sensitive features, such as dance grounds, prayer places and ancient burial grounds. This unique designation also safeguards several drinking water sources and salmon-sustaining streams.
“The district was created to protect the sanctity of our sacred sites,” said Rosie Clayburn, the Yurok Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer. “We will stop at nothing to ensure that every future generation is able to freely participate in our religion.”
The Yurok Tribe repeatedly offered Bluff Creek Company assistance with enrolling in the county’s Retirement, Remediation and Relocation program when it was still open. The program provided substantial incentives for cannabis cultivators to move to appropriate areas. The Tribe worked with more than a dozen Retirement, Remediation and Relocation program participants to assist them in the relocation of their cannabis operations.