Organization by Miwok of Buena Vista Rancheria

Indigenous Faith

Uplifiting thoughts from Great Aunt Bea and her niece, Ya-Nah.

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Great Auntie Bea

Posted by Ya-Nah on May 30, 2016 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (39)

This is an excerpt from an essay that I recently completed about some of my experiences. 

She’s Like a Superhero


The sun is rising now over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From the window, I can see the silhouette of the mountains in the distance and trees that line the hotel parking lot. My daughter is still asleep. She keeps tossing the blankets around in her sleep, and she giggled once. I’m drinking my second cup of the Lipton tea that came with the motel room, and counting my blessings for being alive. We are staying in Amador County, where the towns were manifested and desolated by the California Gold Rush. A few of the little Gold Rush settlements are still in working condition, but dozens of boom towns have dropped off of the map since the mid-1800s. Some of my ancestors come from here.


Envision Miwok communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Today, a series of country roads and highways will get you here. My ancestors come from a village on the north side of a sacred mountain. The area is home to oak trees and endangered frogs, and there is an artesian well that comes right out of the mountain. It isn’t thriving the way it did before the United States moved in. The original people left to find jobs to provide for families, but that place in the foothills that we call Buena Vista is still home to them.


With the advent of Indian gaming, one of the younger people started to think about becoming rich off of that place. She waited for an elder to become dependent on her, and then she acquired the land. She tried to do it alone with just her children and one casino investor, but soon she was forced to accept a partner who brought in another casino investor and her children. Before long, they built an outdoor kitchen and invited people to look at the beautiful place where they wished to build their casino. People visited and ate at the sacred homeland, and they admired its beauty. None of them knew that the outdoor kitchen stood on top of the place where the outhouses used to be, but there were always a lot of flies.


Great Auntie Bea could have told them, but she considers the land sacred, so they probably don’t want her around now that they plan to desecrate it. If the casino was built, it could eradicate the burial tradition forever. Since the casino profiteers got ahold of the land, only one person has been able to be buried there. It is good that we have not had to bury a family member for quite a while; it is sad that we may never be able to do so again.


The profiteers are organized as the “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians,” and that organization has taken around $15 million from the California Gambling Control Commission out of the revenue sharing trust fund that was set up to benefit the non-gaming federally recognized tribes. Tribes with thousands of acres of land and thousands of members receive the same amount of money as the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, which has only about a dozen members and around 100 acres of land. Since it is much less expensive to take care of fewer members and fewer acres, the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians can afford to show financial largesse to local non-profit and student organizations, making them popular within the [email protected] and Native American communities, which should know much better.


The interruption of the burial tradition began when the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians took control of the property in 1997. Auntie Bea and I still go to the cemetery together when we can, and celebrate the living and the dead. We refuse to quietly allow the burial tradition to be crushed beneath a casino. Auntie Bea would like to be buried in the cemetery at Buena Vista Rancheria, where her grandfather told her that she would be someday. However, the landowner, the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, has ignored requests for mediation on the subject, and that is an outrage.


It would take Auntie Bea over 900 years to accumulate $15 million from her Social Security, and she might not live that long. Early in 2013, Auntie Bea lost her apartment. She had just gotten too old to take care of an apartment on her own, and she was too independent to allow someone else to do it for her. A couple of months after that, she completed and turned in an application for American Indian housing assistance. She didn’t do it on her own. It turned out that one of the ladies from the Veterans’ Association helped her complete the application, and then drove her straight to the Chico Rancheria Housing Corporation office to turn it in.


Less than a week later, my auntie was notified that she was not eligible for their services. I had to interrogate her to find out that it was because she could not be verified Indian. She was ready to just give up, but I decided to call the CRHC to explain that the situation was urgent. My conversation with a woman in that office went something like this:


“Did you call the BIA? She’s from the Buena Vista Rancheria, but she has to sue the United States of America for federal recognition.”


“I did call the BIA, and they cannot verify her enrollment with a tribe. They referred me to the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, and there is no one in that office who can verify her enrollment until next week.”


“Well, she isn’t enrolled with the casino profiteers. She is Miwok, and she has a roll number with the BIA, but the court case for federal recognition probably won’t be over for years, and she’s homeless now.”


“Our policy requires her to be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe.”


“Do you know much about California history?”


“Yes, but we get HUD funding, and we need to follow the rules.”


“Alright, let’s see what happens next week.”


After the conversation, I looked on Facebook and found out that the chairwoman of the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians had gone to New York for a Prince benefit concert. Prince is a skinny pop music icon. When the chairwoman returned to her office, she verified that Auntie Bea was unenrolled with the casino profiteers.


Auntie Bea has lived through Indian Reorganization, Termination, Civil Rights, and now Casinos. If I start complaining about my husband, Great Auntie says that I have to live my life and get a divorce so that I won’t be unfair to someone else I might meet and fall in love with. She entertains me with her stories about her first husband. My favorite one is about how he would take her with him to dynamite old tree stumps in the orchards. He had explained that if the blasting went wrong, he didn’t want to die alone. It sounds just as romantic as it is funny, but he turned out to be a bum. He left her and disappeared so thoroughly that she had to hire a private investigator to find him so that she could get a divorce. Her second husband was wonderful. He’s the one I remember.


I’m not Catholic enough to want a divorce. If I have to pay for it, I will file for a separation. Sometimes my husband says that he will file for divorce, but as far as I know, he hasn’t, and he has a warrant for marijuana possession in Yolo County, so he doesn’t want to go to the courthouse. He can file for free because he doesn’t have any reported income. If California wasn’t a community property state, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.



Last fall, Auntie Bea and I caused an accident. Technically, it’s the fault of whoever rear-ended the good Samaritan who stopped as we were crossing the street. One would normally stop for an elderly lady crossing the street with a wheelchair, and Great Auntie Bea is an elderly lady. She was just like a superhero in a doublewide chrome wheelchair with a blue vinyl seat and all sorts of treasures hanging from the handle bars, but she won’t walk an extra block to a crosswalk sometimes.


After the accident, an onlooker tried to get the cops to come out to do a welfare check on Auntie Bea, and if they had, it would have been the second or third of that day, but I guess that they just took note of it and planned to visit her again in the evening. It was just a fender bender, but it made me imagine a tableau of twisted metal and orange flames in the background as a cop asks Auntie Bea if she is feeling alright. Meanwhile, she would continue walking at her own pace toward Carl’s Jr., telling the officer to mind his own business. I would laugh inappropriately if that happened.



Her wandering took its toll on her health, but the social service workers kept telling me that things would have to get much worse before the courts would conserve her if the doctors wouldn’t do it. Lapses in her memory and orientation started to happen every so often while she was on the streets, and that is very uncharacteristic of Auntie Bea. The hospitals would occasionally admit her for diabetic symptoms but that was all. She denies that she is diabetic, and talking to someone who has unregulated diabetes can be a lot like talking to a crazy person. If she was conserved, someone would have completed the Medi-Cal application and set her up in a nursing facility, but she wouldn’t or couldn’t do that for herself. What she wants to do is rent her own place for half of her income and get a puppy dog and a kitty cat.


This year, she is finally living in a nursing facility in Sacramento where I can visit her, call her, and not worry about where she’s at or if she has a roof over her head. A doctor finally conserved her, and the social workers there asked me if I knew how bad it had gotten for her. Of course I did, and it drove me crazy to watch other doctors just write down her symptoms and then send her back out on the streets. She is going to be 85 this year.

Grandma June

Posted by Ya-Nah on May 30, 2016 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This is an excerpt from an essay that I recently completed about some of my experiences.

She Would Laugh


Once my daughter was out of bed, I got up and made a delicious smoothie with two peaches and several large strawberries that I found in my mom’s refrigerator. I added some lemonade that I bought at the Co-op last week and blended it all together. Then I took off on my bike for the gym while my mom started baking some brownies for my birthday. After swimming two-thirds of a mile, I lost the ability to be unhappy at all, and when I returned home, my mom’s house smelled like chocolate. The brownies weren’t done yet, so my daughter and I left on our bikes. We went to Target for a bite to eat, and then over to the cemetery for the holiday.



My grandma died almost a year and a half before, but she wasn’t buried in the Davis cemetery. She wasn’t buried in any cemetery because the Miwok cemetery that she thought she would be buried in has been closed to interment since the property has been slated for casino construction. Our uncle works at the Davis cemetery. He has worked there since before I was born, and when my grandma moved into a nursing home, it was just a block away from there. For this Memorial Day, we visited the grave of Dr. Jack Forbes, because he did battle against all ignorance to make this a better place for all of us. He passed away a few years before in Davis, and I hadn’t visited his grave site yet.


Grandma June fought the United States in the courts before she died. She meant to stop the desecration of her Miwok cemetery. Nothing should be built at anyone’s burial grounds. All Indian casinos should be built somewhere else or not at all.


Greed has motivated oppression of California culture over and over again—and it isn’t over. In 2010, I started to research the Buena Vista Rancheria, and what I discovered was so astonishing that I started filming a documentary in 2011. I filmed Grandma several times before her health failed, and I wonder what would have happened if I had started filming sooner.


The reason that I started my research was because Friends of Amador County filed a lawsuit in 2010; they wanted the casino profiteers to be taken off of the list of federally recognized tribes. The courts wouldn’t hear the suit until they got Great Auntie Bea and Grandma June to join. Auntie Bea and Grandma just wanted to be able to reorganize the tribe properly without any casino development investors.


In the beginning, Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor of California, and the States have immunity, so in 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was terminated from the case. By January 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote an unpublished decision to uphold the 5th district court’s ruling and dismiss the case in the name of tribal sovereign immunity. Less than a month after that, Grandma passed away. Grandma June lived in Colusa. She said that she guessed she would die there, too, and laughed pleasantly because she had spent her whole life in that little town. She also expected to be buried in the cemetery at Buena Vista, where her mother and one of her sisters are still buried. The cemetery is for all Miwok people, but the United States stole it, and then they had to buy it back from settlers and return it to our people who lived there. I think it was because the cemetery is there, and even the United States can’t deny that. It was returned in 1927, and on paper, the land became “Buena Vista Rancheria,” supposedly named by the Chilenos who have lived in that area and socialized with the Miwok people. Grandma also wanted me to learn to dance Miwok style for her funeral and to learn the Catholic faith. She wanted her funeral to be a Miwok and Catholic fusion.


She passed away on February 12th, 2014 in Davis. We all thought that she would still have a few weeks or months, so I hurried to call a Catholic priest for her last rites. He arrived within an hour. I was relieved that he called back before she was taken away because it was so sudden, and I know that ceremonies are meant for such times. The cemetery at Buena Vista is also meant for such times, but Grandma was not able to be buried at Buena Vista, although she would have very much liked to have been. She was the first member of the Oliver family of Buena Vista not to be buried in the Miwok cemetery there.


Grandma’s name was June because she was born on June 1st, 1935. She could remember her mom taking her to the hairdresser through the back door after hours so that no one would see them because they were Indian. She worked in the fields from an early age, along with all of her siblings. Grandma June was the youngest, and she was born into a time in California history when the Miwok language was still spoken. Her mother spoke Miwok, Maidu, Spanish, some Portuguese, and English. My daughter would count to ten for her in Nomlaki, and she loved to hear that our languages are coming back alive.


When she was just 15, she married a Nomlaki man. He proposed to her and she thought that he was kidding, because he had a famous sense of humor and always made people around him happy. He was just a few years older than her, but I never met him. Sometimes I would joke and say that she married him even before she knew that he was a casino Indian, and she would laugh. They had six children together. My dad is the oldest, and the youngest was just a toddler when my grandpa died in a car accident on All Saints’ Day many years ago. When Grandma June talked about his death, she would look down and then sigh and shake her head. She would do that whenever she talked about anyone’s death.


Grandma and I would talk for hours and hours. I told her about all of my disappointments, and she told me about what the world was like when she was young. After I turned 25, I started spending more time with Grandma, and got to know her much better. I told her about being left by my husband, and how it made me feel as if he had a child with me just so he could take her away. I told her how it hurt so much, that I thought nobody should like me anymore. She gave me a powerful hug and told me: “Not everyone is going to like you, and not everyone is going to dislike you.”


I liked to hear the stories about how I was almost never born. She had two stories about that. The first came from the times when my Great Grandma Ethel Irene would help her take care of my dad and his younger brother. They were always happy to go with her, except once. One day, when the two boys were supposed to go with their Grandma Ethel for a drive, my uncle started crying and refused to go. The two boys stayed home, and on that same day in 1956, Great Grandma died in a car accident. At the end of that story, Grandma would look down and shake her head.


The other story is of the time when my grandpa took my dad and uncle hunting, and the same uncle who wouldn’t go with Great Grandma, accidentally shot my dad. I can’t help but laugh when I hear that story; it’s like something out of a ridiculous comedy. No one died, but Grandma never cracked a smile when she told that story. She had to clean them up after they got home from the hospital, and that was before wash and wear. My dad and my uncle don’t think it’s funny either.


Memories are like time travel. I have seen an elder affectionately remember Grandma as a little girl. She was 77 years old when the elder greeted her by saying, “I remember that little girl.” They remember her from family gatherings in Auburn and at Buena Vista Rancheria. Grandma June and her sister, Auntie Bea, are two of four children; one sister died as a child, and nobody knows where their brother Leonard is.


Before Grandma had to quit driving, she made it to a D-Q University Pow-Wow. I was sitting at a table and talking with one of my cousins when Grandma came through the door. I recognized her silhouette immediately and cried out, “Is that Grandma?” Even though I had mentioned the event during a recent visit, I was completely surprised that she made it.


There was a famous California Indian photographer at the Pow-Wow that day. He was taking pictures of the event, and he agreed to take a portrait of Grandma. He later sent the photos to me in the mail, and they were perfect. From then on, she was always delighted to talk about how she had her portrait taken by a famous California Indian photographer. Then she would ask me,


“What was his name?”


“Dugan Aguilar, Grandma.”


Grandma was a professional nurse, and after she retired, she became a masseuse. Even in the nursing home in Davis, she would pop my back from her wheelchair. If it weren’t for women like Grandma, many of us wouldn’t be doing as well as we are. I’m not as kind and generous as she was, but she inspires me.


We spent her last Thanksgiving together. It was also the first day of Hanukkah. We only had a small gathering: just my parents, my daughter, and Grandma. That morning, my mom and I cleaned the house. My daughter was drawing butterfly princesses and watching TV. The bird had songs to sing, and my big smelly dog was overjoyed. For Christmas, we did the same thing, and my aunt and uncle joined us, too. Thinking of Grandma June still makes me happy.



I remember my mom’s mom, Grandmama, too. She died on Halloween in 1994 at my mom’s house. We don’t know exactly when she was born, because she was born on Navajoland, and the event was not recorded according to the Anglo calendar. My cousins and I had just gotten back from trick-or-treating, and as soon as the phone rang, I knew that it was my mom, and that Grandmama had passed away.


Grandmama lived in a hogan until she was 12, when her father took her to live with him and her three half-siblings off the reservation at the Gallegos trading post. That was way before the Indian Child Welfare Act. Her dad was a white trader and her mom had died when she was just a baby. When she was an adult, she got a job working at a university, where she met my grandfather. He was an engineering student. They got married, had a daughter, and raised her in a mining camp in Nicaragua, where my grandfather got a job. My grandmother would bake bread every morning in a wood stove, and she homeschooled my mom until my mom was 11. Eventually, my grandfather had problems with his families in Nicaragua, and divorced my Grandmama. That’s when she moved to Northern California, where my mom was. She was happier in Northern California, where she made friends and could walk to the farmers’ market. Her home was always beautiful, and she created exquisite textiles. She named me after her own mother—and coincidentally the tribe of the area in California where she was living when I was born.



Updated Letter

Posted by Ya-Nah on May 31, 2014 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

May 30th, 2014


Re: Native American Religious Freedom and the Cemetery of Buena Vista Rancheria


Dear Governor Brown and Representatives,

Greetings and salutations, thank you for your time. Buena Vista Rancheria is a small parcel of land that has always been preserved by Miwok of Buena Vista Rancheria. It is now considered to be within the county of Amador, near the city of Ione, California, and it has never been accepted into trust with the United States of America. It is a very important place since it serves as a ceremonial gathering place, and burial ground for our people. Although California has approved a gaming compact for a casino to be developed at our sacred site, we do not wish for a casino to be built at the burial ground since it would be disrespectful to the ancestors and it is possible that much older ceremonial sites and burials exist in the whole area.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Amador county assessors office have listed “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” as the land owner of the rancheria. When Grandma June called their office directly in 2011, Arnold Samuel was already in a conference call and we left a message. Finally, on May 8th, 2014, he phoned back. I have contacted Indian Dispute Resolution Services to arrange a meeting but Arnold Samuel has not yet agreed to attend. Rhonda Pope was very irate last time that she contacted Grandma June and it was very unpleasant.

Grandma June passed away in February this year and has not been interred. It was always her wish to be buried at Buena Vista in a plot that her grandfather, John Oliver, had assigned to her. Her mother, Ethel Oliver Ortega Bill, was the last generation from our family to be born in Amador county in 1909, and buried in the Buena Vista cemetery in 1956. Her name is the first that appears on a list of people interred in the cemetery in a recent ethnography made for the “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” in 2006 by Pacific Legacy, Inc.. No burial has been permitted there since the land was deeded to the “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians,” in 1997.

In the last five years, my grandma and great aunt sought federal recognition to represent their tribe. Although the attorney for the “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” argues that American Indian tribes can be recognized by federal courts, the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled to prevent lawful reorganization of the people of Buena Vista Rancheria in January this year, in Friends of Amador et. al. Versus Secretary of the Department of the Interior et. al.. One of the judges in the 9th circuit court suggested that an act of congress might be a more appropriate solution to nullify plans for casino development at Buena Vista Rancheria.

Planned casino construction at Buena Vista Rancheria would desecrate a significant cultural site, and our burial ceremonies. In fact, since the Rancheria land is not and has never been in trust with the United States, I don't know if the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act can adequately protect our cemetery. That is because “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” is both, interested in casino construction at the address of our cemetery, and qualified to dismiss concerns about cultural significance because of it's federally recognized status. Most of the direct lineal descendants of people interred in the cemetery were not listed with the Heritage Commission during the planning stages of the proposed casino, and now that Beatrice Crabtree is listed, we are asking for consideration for the protection and continuance of the Buena Vista burial tradition for very personal reasons.

Great Auntie Bea, is also thinking about when she will “meet her demise,” and when that happens she would like to be buried near her mother at Buena Vista. She is 83 years old, and her grandfather, John Oliver, also assigned a burial plot to her. For our family, it has always been expected that the cemetery would continue to be expanded as necessary for as long as there are Miwok people. We both feel very strongly that the burial tradition of our people should not be suppressed or intimidated by the”Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians.” If we are intimidated and ignored by a landowner then how do we exercise our religious freedom to practice the last right that we have in this world.

Though the United States may not have intended for this situation to occur, it is a result of U.S. Indian policy and private land ownership in California. Since my great aunt is not enrolled with “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” or any other tribe, and she is a resident of Sacramento county and a citizen of California, we seek your consideration in this matter. Legislation to protect American Indian Religious Freedoms, should protect all future traditional use of our burial grounds at Buena Vista Rancheria and if it does not, the act should be amended to do so.

Great Auntie Bea is living and able to speak for herself. She needs her own wheelchair and more importantly, help with her own funeral arrangements since the tradition of her Miwok ancestors is still threatened by planned casino development and a California gaming compact, approved in 1999 and amended in 2004. The amended gaming compact for the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians will expire in 2025. A documentary of recent events from the perspective of two elders of the Oliver family, will be forthcoming in 2014. Please look for more information on our website, where you can also donate to help Great Auntie Bea to get her own wheelchair,




Ya-nah Geary Mandujano

[email protected]

(916) 215-9123


Beatrice Mae Crabtree



Cc: National Indian Gaming Commission


Glenn Villa Jr.


Native American Heritage Commission


Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Governor Brown and Congress,

Posted by Ya-Nah on May 5, 2014 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (3)

Greetings and salutations, thank you for our time. Buena Vista Rancheria is a small parcel of land that has always been preserved by the Miwok nation. It is now considered to be within the county of Amador, near the city of Ione. It is a very important location since it serves as a ceremonial gathering place, and burial ground for our people. My great grandmother was the last member of my family to be born there in 1909, and she was buried there in 1956.

A few years ago my grandmother became concerned with making arrangements for her own burial. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Amador county assessors office have listed “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” as the land owner of the rancheria. When I contacted the “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians,” Arnold Samuel asked for me to get a power of attorney from my Grandmother to make arrangements. Instead, I had my grandmother call to talk with him. We left a message for him, and now it is several years later and he has not yet returned her call, and she passed away in February this year.

My great auntie is also thinking about when she will meet her demise, and when that happens she would like to be buried near her mother. I am concerned that the wishes of my great auntie will also be ignored by the “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians,” and my great auntie refuses to acknowledge it as landowner of the rancheria at all. We feel very strongly that the burial tradition of our people should not be suppressed by the ”Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians.”

It would be wonderful if there could be a neutral cemetery association for our Miwok cemetery, and great auntie could be buried near her ancestors and relatives when her time comes. I fear that this will not happen under present circumstances, and though the United States may not have intended for this situation to occur, it is a result of U.S. Indian policy. Since my great aunt is not enrolled with “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians,” and she is a resident and citizen of California, we seek your assistance in this matter.

In the last five years, my grandma and great aunt were seeking reorganization of their tribe in order to prevent the construction of a casino at Buena Vista Rancheria by “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians.” One of the judges in the case suggested an act of congress as a more appropriate solution. Although the very listing of “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” with the Bureau of Indian Affairs confirms that federal recognition can come from a federal court decision, and multiple attorneys argued this point, the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled to prevent the lawful reorganization of the people of Buena Vista Rancheria in January this year in Friends of Amador et. al. Versus Secretary of the Department of the Interior et. al..

As we consider casino construction to be a threat to the burial tradition, the burial tradition could be considered a threat to casino construction. That is because of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, so that if the casino is planned to be built in compliance with that act, it could become in violation if our burial tradition thrives and more Miwok people choose to be buried with our ancestors and relatives. Given the conflicting interests that “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” claims to represent, I am asking for help in mediating and advocating for the continuance of our burial tradition.



Ya-nah Geary Mandujano

[email protected]

(916) 215-9123

God's Beauty

Posted by Ya-Nah on April 8, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I am not Catholic like my Grandma and Great Auntie, I'm not even Christian.  On days when the sun is shining on so much of the earth, and people don't seem to be distracted by their electronic devices, it is impossible to miss all of god's beauty.  God as a symbol of our perception of omnicience, is as much undeniable, as it is uncontainable, but it can be enjoyable.  To sit and honor the idea of vast existence, and the goodness there in is so uplifting that one can imagine that it would overflow and promote the happiness of those around us and in our thoughts.  Meditation can act as a painreliever for as long as our focus can be placed on enjoyment of the world that we are in and the weightlessness of our thoughts.  On several occasions, I have felt an overwhelming sensation of happiness when a devout christian has sought my attention to talk about the word of god.  The feeling seems to have been a syntergy of my experience, and the great faith of another, and I take that as proof that words are not always necessary.  

Remembering Grandma June

Posted by Ya-Nah on February 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Grandma June passed on last week.  She was born June 1st, 1935 and she died February 12th, 2014.  St. James Parish in Davis was wonderful.  She is loved and she will be missed.  

When June was young, she married a Nomlaki man and raised six children with him.  My Grandma June is one of the luckiest women I have ever known and I feel lucky to be her Granddaughter. She was 78 and her hair was mostly black.  She is survived by her sister, children, grand-children, and great-grand-children.  

American Indians Versus The United States

Posted by Ya-Nah on January 14, 2014 at 12:55 PM Comments comments (0)

FOR RELEASE January 14, 2015

Contact: Ya-nah Geary Mandujano (916) 215-9123


SACRAMENTO - Two Miwok elders are joined with Friends of Amador County in legal action to preserve a way of life enjoyed by Miwok people and Amador County residents now. Bea Crabtree, who is a plaintiff in the case says that her concern is for “protection of the land and people that are buried there.”


The case, Friends of Amador v. Salazar regarding reorganization of the Buena Vista Rancheria is scheduled for oral argument on January 15th, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California. There will be a live audio file of oral arguments, and archives on the court's website,


Enrollment and federal acknowledgment make up the foundation for American Indian rights and protections within the United States. The foundation of the Buena Vista Rancheria has been debated by many sides in recent decades. For more information please visit,



Documentary Film Features Miwok Elders

Posted by Ya-Nah on November 28, 2013 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

“Miwok No Matter What” is an upcoming documentary film due to be released in 2014 and it will premier on the Davis' public access channel. The film features the lives and experiences of two Miwok women who have recently been discriminated against by “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians.” It will feature the story of Buena Vista Rancheria from the perspective of elders June Geary and Beatrice Crabtree who recount memories from their childhood and of their own elders who have already passed on. These women and their stories will be central in this film because they are much more significant than Indian Gaming, but tragically, they are not the only California Indians who have been discriminated against by their own tribe when the tribe is in pursuit of a casino.


Right now, Beatrice Crabtree is 83 and she is the eldest known Miwok of the Buena Vista Rancheria. She has already been denied services that are meant for Native Americans because “Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians” has not acknowledged her, but she still needs help. She has been homeless off and on for most of the year with several health concerns and disabilities, and she is waiting and hoping for placement in a senior facility.

Repair D-Q University

Posted by Ya-Nah on October 28, 2013 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I wonder whether California Tribal College & D-Q University are getting together or not.  Either way, California should have an acredited American Indian University like before.  

D-Q University was California's first tribal college and the second in the nation.  It is not reservation based or tribally run.  A 2005 Yolo Superior Court case, # CV 05-486, regarding its board's legal standing is pending.  

Following civil rights movements, it was dedicated to improving all nations, from a place, struck by imperialism, sprouting international markets, that have sprung into what used to be called modernity, and challenging globalization to NOT mean that we all hop onto computers like bunnies.  

It stands to reason that if a number of tribal leaders can build a California Tribal College in five years, then the University's community which includes [email protected], should be able to repair D-Q.

The USA Defense

Posted by Ya-Nah on September 10, 2013 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger was "TERMINATED" in 2010, as a defendant to the federal case, Friends of Amador County et. al. versus the United States of America et. al.. That is because the case involves the National Indian Gaming Act and States have immunity from lawsuit regarding that act. Otherwise, lawyers for the defence have not opposed the lawsuit. Maybe they do not want to oppose the reorganization of a small Miwok band of Northern California, by the elders of that tribe, Bea Crabtree and June Geary.


Beatrice Mae Ortega Crabtree is Grandma June's oldest sister, and in more traditional times, she might be considered hereditary leader of the tribe. Auntie Bea is the one who would take me out to yard sales when I was younger and then bring me home with a 5 gallon bucket full of adorible, happy puppies.  It turns out that I don't believe that three puppies fit into a 5 gallong bucket, so I held them as much as possible on the way home.  She is the most amusingly impulsive person I know and one of the most generous, and elderly. September 11th is her birthday and this year, she will be 83 years old.


This year Bea lost her Chico, CA apartment and all of her belongings to a home disaster. The Chico Rancheria Housing Coorporation, would have given her financial assistance to relocate, except she is not an enrolled member of any federally recognized American Indian tribe. It was debasing to see one of my elders denied assistance that is supposed to be for Native Americans in need. She is now in a temporary residence in Davis and still in search of a permanent senior residence here.


Blocking her membership and right to acknowledgement, is an organization called "Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians." That organization has received over $12 million since 2001 because it claims to represent Miwok people like Bea, however, it does not consider her a member and it aggressively pursues casino style gaming to pay debts from contracting a casino style gaming facility next to our ceremonial grounds.


The axiom is that a Miwok elder is Native American and she deserves equal rights.  



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