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She Who Watches: Defeating Old Hazeldell

In this week's Slant we discuss EW columnist and Native American activist Kayla Godowa Tufti who was restrained by a plainclothes officer at a public meeting while giving testimony on behalf of her one-year-old daughter.

The video can also be seen on the County Commission website here. 

She Who Watches: Defeating Old Hazeldell, 

By Kayla Godowa Tufti

Oct. 12 was the public hearing before the Lane County Board of Commissioners at Oakridge High School. Ed King (King Estate Winery) has applied to Lane County to rezone 46 acres in Oakridge from forestland to quarry. 

Seventeen million tons of andesite rock will be extracted from TV Butte for 50 years. The land proposed for rezoning is known as TV Butte on Dunning Road. King’s company is called the Old Hazeldell Quarry project. 

Dunning Road is an ancient Molalla tribal village site according to Lawrence Hills, mayor of Oakridge in 1958 and ’63. The Chakgeenkni-Tufti band of Molalla Indians, whose descendants are enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon, have lived at TV Butte for thousands of years. 

Other local tribes camped at this location to gather foods such as camas, elk and huckleberries. TV Butte was also a central location to camp for tribes traveling to the valley during hop season. 

Historical, cultural, natural resources, open spaces, trails and aggregate rock are several Doal 5 resources under Oregon law.

OREGON’S STATEWIDE PLANNING GOALS & GUIDELINES GOAL 5: 
NATURAL RESOURCES, SCENIC AND HISTORIC AREAS, AND OPEN SPACES

To protect natural resources and conserve scenic and historic areas and open spaces. 
Local governments shall adopt programs that will protect natural resources and conserve scenic, historic, and open space resources for present and future generations. 
These resources promote a healthy environment and natural landscape that contributes to Oregon’s livability.

The Old Hazeldell Quarry project violates approval criteria based on the fact several impacts regarding historic, cultural, natural resources, trails and open spaces under Oregon’s Goal 5 law have not been mitigated. 

Lane County has been deplorable at inventorying significant Goal 5 resources, particularly in the Upper Willamette Valley region. 

The meeting in Oakridge with the Lane County Commissioners was a sadistic, grotesque display of an abuse of power. 

Before entering the building there were 2 officers from the Oakridge police department, one undercover officer and one officer in an unmarked SUV from the Lane County Sheriff. 

A brute force of intimidation filled the air. Oakridge officer S. Davidson proudly carried a large wooden baton on his hip proclaiming it was part of his uniform.

Each member of the public was allotted approximately 3 minutes to testify at the hearing. Staff of the Old Hazeldell Quarry project were allotted 45 minutes. They took 2 hours. 

Residents and tribal members finally took the podium. I sat in the front row with my tribal representative. Every testimony opposing the quarry was valid and moving. 

My name was called, I approached the podium in my wing dress and two signs that read “gravel does not justify rezoning”and “don’t mine our village site.”

I took three minutes. Next on the list was my one-year-old daughter. I planned to hold her and read a letter to the commission explaining how important TV Butte is to her future cultural history and identity. Faye Stewart scoffed and retorted “a one-year-old give testimony?”

She was asleep, so I read it on her behalf. She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Charlie Tufti, a well-known tribal personality from the TV Butte area.

Stewart tried to restrict me from saying anything on behalf of my daughter, who will be 50 years old when the quarry is finished. As I calmly continued to read, the undercover officer approached the podium and tried removing my daughter’s letter. I calmly told him to leave my belongings alone. 

He grabbed my wrists and held them behind my back as if he were going to cuff me. I continued to calmly read my daughter’s letter. 

The officer was then asked to let me go. He released me. The room sat silently in a tense shock. Everything was filmed for the webcast on the Lane County Commissioner website. 

A representative from my tribe testified to the Commission explaining how insulting, dehumanizing and degrading this entire process is. 

From having white archaeologists attempting to debunk our tribal history at TV Butte, to having an undercover officer restrain a tribal member calmly giving public testimony on behalf of our future generations, an important tradition in our tribal religion. 

Many people spoke outside the allotted time, including the applicant, and no one batted an eye. As soon as I went over by a minute, Stewart saw this as grounds for me to be forcibly accosted. 

This was one of the clearest displays of institutional racism and suppression of rights of a person of color by law enforcement and local government that I have ever experienced. Two days after Eugene’s first Indigenous Peoples Day.

I anticipate the County Commission will approve the quarry project. Written comment will be accepted until Oct. 31. The email for Lane County Board of Commissioners is lcbcccom@co.lane.or.us

Kevin Matthews give testimony and references the incident with Kayla Godowa Tufti