We Have Endured, We Are Indians – Pit River Indian Council (1970)

On June 5, 1970, 150 members of the Pit River Tribe tried to re-occupy a site in Lassen National Park in northern California, but were stopped by police. The following day, members of the tribe re-occupied buildings and land occupied by Pacific Gas & Electric, leading to dozens of arrests over the course of a week, and further re-occupation actions and arrests in the following months and years.



In defiance of the treaties signed with Indian tribes in California and across the nation, the federal government is in the process of relinquishing its duties to the American Indian.

This process, called termination, has had a particularly devastating effect on the Indians of California. To add to the injury, the state of California has not assumed its responsibilities promised to its Indian citizens, the original owners the land.

Therefore it is up to the Indian people themselves to run their own affairs. This will require that Indian people have the basic tools necessary to develop their communities, the tools and resources which have been taken by the white man.

The Pit River Indian Tribe has voted unanimously to refuse the payment under the California Land Claims Case now being prepared for settlement. We believe that money cannot buy the Mother Earth. She has sheltered and clothed, nourished and protected us. We have endured. We are Indians.

We are the rightful and legal owners of the land. Therefore, we reclaim all the resourceful land that has traditionally been ours, with the exception of that “owned” by private individuals.

On this land we will set up our own economic and social structure, retaining all the values that are commensurate with Indian life. We will encourage and help other Indian tribes and groups to establish similar structures across the country, in order to establish inter-tribal economics and cultural ties, basing the economy on the barter system.

Therefore let it be known by all concerned that the Pit River Tribe makes the following demands:

1. That the U.S. Government and the large corporations, including PG&E, PT&T, Southern Pacific Railroad, Kimberly Clark, Hearst Publications, and the Los Angeles Times Mirror Corp., among others, return all our land to us immediately. No amount of money can buy the Mother Earth; therefore, the California Land Claims Case has no meaning. The Earth is our Mother, and we cannot sell her.

2. That the U.S. Government and the large corporations pay back to us the profits they have made from the land since 1853, and that they make an accounting to us immediately. The land was taken illegally, against the principles of the Constitution.

3. That reparations be made to all California Indians for the deaths, suffering, and poverty forced on Indians for over 100 years.

4. That the federal government and the large corporations undo the damage they have done to the land, and that they make reparations to us for the damage done. Where the forest has been cut away, it must be restored. Where the rivers have been dammed, they must be allowed to run freely.

5. That all Indians be allowed religious and cultural freedom, and be allowed to teach their children the Indian way of life and be proud of that life. Further, that Indian studies be instituted in schools around the country, so that all citizens will know the true story of the Indian. The stereotype of the Indian that exists must be erased.

These demands are inseparable, inter-related, and must all be carried out in full force together.


Mickey Gemmill, Chairman

Indian Uprising Spreads to Private Land Squatting: Tribes Now Claiming Gas, Electric Ground – Palm Springs Desert Sun (1970)

Arrest Attempt by Indians Fails – New York Times (1970)

Pit River Indians reject financial settlement – KPIX News (1970)

A long history of loss for Pit River Tribe – Redding Record Searchlight (2011)

See also:

Proclamation of the Indians of All Tribes at Alcatraz (1969)

Indigenous Resistance, 1960s to 2007 – Warrior Publications

100 years of land struggle

Canadian Imperialism & Institutional Racism: Connections between Black & Métis resistance movements

Land Back: The matrilineal descent of modern Indigenous land reclamation

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