Monday, March 28, 2005

Lake Wha Cha Ma Callit: Grandfather's Tale

The children gathered around the elder in the flickering light of the muted television and,like barking seal pups,pleaded
-Tell us again,Grandfather,the story of how Lake Wha Cha Ma Callit got its name.
And so Grandfather began.

-Eons ago there was a lake that existed before women and men. The lake was home to birds and fish,waterfowl,bullrushes- but no bulls-or cows for that matter. Deer, elk,bear,and fox came to the lake to drink and visit. Sometimes a cougar would venture down to this lake by the sea,too.

Then our ancestors came: the People (Tolowa,Karuk,Hoopah,Yurok),the so-called "indigenous" people.We lived from the land,and fed from Mother Earth's bounty.After us came the Oldtimers,who claimed to have lived here forever and made the first improvements on Mother Nature.The lake we had called Water-Bird Lake,they named after their families,giving the Lake human names and claiming Ownership,because now the Lake was named after them.And they named roads and tracts of land after their family names,too...and the Oldtimers began to think of themselves as the original settlers and improvers of land, and they forgot that the Indigenous People were here before them.

And the Oldtimers, some of whom were "good old boys" started to deplete Mother Earth:timber,fish,deer,bear,fox,and minerals,too. They believed that they needed to get very rich to live well and a good way to get rich was to claim land-and then sell it. So,even though Water-Bird Lake was getting "poopy" with cow poop,it was still very beautiful.

Then a few Oldtimers decided to form a corporation with friends from the Southland and build roads through sand-dunes and sell parcels of land around the lake- which they sold in hotel and motel ballrooms in the Southland with the aid of nifty movies and slideshows of pristine vistas of the Lake. People who asked about water hook-ups and sewage disposal were advised "don't sweat the small stuff". Instead, they were urged to "dream the possibilities": Between the Redwoods and the Sea- A SPORTSMAN'S
PARADISE.

Many Southlanders "bought in";some Locals,too. Even Real Estate folk and Government Officials,it is rumored,bought in; however, BEWARE SMALL TOWN RUMORS! Anyway,though a roadway grid was built through the dunes,the infrastructure preparation and permit process preparation was incomplete;"Dune City" was never built.

Some people say money changed hands;but how could this be? If money does not have hands in the first place,how can money "change hands"?

After awhile, Lake Peaceful Shores, returned to a site for target practice,paintball games,garbage disposal,million dollar homes,wrecked cars,meth labs,birdwatching:in short, a multi-use, public-private domain serving multiple constituencies.

And so, Water-Bird Lake is now Multi-Use Lake- and that,my Extended Family, is why I call this lake: Lake Wha Cha Ma Callit.

-Oh Please Tell The Story Again, Grandpa.

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