On an ocean bluff above a resting seal and relentless waves, Kashia Pomo leaders Friday voiced opposition to new state rules that prohibit harvesting fish and other sea life at Stewarts Point.
The rules, which take effect today, establish a series of state preserves intended to help restore California's marine ecosystems.
But to the Indians with ties to Stewarts Point, the fishing ban there harms their culture, their ceremonies and the transmission of traditions to future generations.
“Today I'm going to tell you they are interfering with our religion,” Violet Parrish Chappell, a Kashia Pomo elder, told Indians and supporters who came together just up the road from the Stewarts Point Store. “And I don't think they would do that to the Catholic Church.”
About 130 people stood Friday in bright sun and constant wind on a ranch owned by the Richardson family, which settled the area 130 years ago and controls about 15,000 acres.
Arch Richardson, an elder among the family's 85 descendants, invited leaders from the Stewarts Point Rancheria to bless the bluff and to mark the last day when fishing was permitted there. About a half-dozen tribal members harvested abalone in the nearby surf earlier in the day.