Hueco was one of the first climbing areas to fall victim to the prejudice of "we (the tribe) don't want you to go there; it is sacred to us, but not to you." People who want to climb at Lake Tahoe's Cave Rock have joined the ranks of victims of "Native American" mysticism. Articles about the closure can be found on the Access Fund's website and in magazines such as Climbing, and Rock and Ice, starting in late 2002.
The following beautiful letter appeared in the July/August 2003 issue of Rock and Ice. . . We are always amazed and gratified to find rational, logical people who understand fundamental principles of freedom and equality - principles espoused in the Constitution of the United States of America, principles upon which this Nation was founded, but no longer govern us. Unfortunately, we are vastly outnumbered by legions of rule-loving sycophants who never saw a regulation they didn't like and will never have the courage to stand up and say,
"Um... terribly sorry to have to break this to you, but the rock really is not alive, and animism is a false belief. By the way, it's sexist to not allow women to vote in your tribal elections, and it's racist to base membership in the tribe on a person's percentage of pure 'Native American' blood ."
Today I went rock climbing at Cave Rock, located on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The same Cave Rock that is located on National Forest Service land. The very same Cave Rock that is located on public land. However, today it was brought to my attention that this might be one of the last times I'm allowed to climb there. Why? Because I'm a woman, and my very presence in the cave is disturbing to a group of people...the Washoe Indians, who see my climbing there as a desecration of a sacred place, a religious place, a place where women weren't traditionally permitted. Of course the Forest Service couldn't merely put up a sign that says, "NO GIRLS ALLOWED", because this is America and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination as blatant and outrageous as this.
So instead, the Forest Service proposes that in order to appease the religious beliefs of the Washoe Indians, they must close Cave Rock to all climbers. But wait, since when did the Forest Service have jurisdiction to determine what public areas should be closed to aid in the practicing of a specific religion. Isn't this the land of the free? To me climbing is a religion, and if I'm on public land I should be allowed to wear a cross, say a prayer, or climb a rock. But once again, the Forest Service realizes this. They know they can't close Cave Rock to climbing because of religious beliefs, so instead they hide behind the guise that this closure is to preserve a historical site. This being the same historical site that apparently and miraculously was undisturbed by the blasting that was necessary to create the highway tunnels. This being the same historical site where there is absolutely no historical indication that the Washoe Tribe previously prohibited the presence of others (men) in the area.
So, as I sat overlooking Lake Tahoe, or rather as I sat desecrating a sacred place, I couldn't help but wonder why it is that in times when the world seems to be getting smaller, and the need to share and come together as a unified country becomes greater, the Forest Service can't support a compromise that would allow all of us to practice our religion at Cave Rock. Then I remembered why-because I am a woman.
I urge the Forest Service to please take these thoughts to heart and stop the discrimination and inappropriate closure of public lands to rock climbers.
At Huecotanks.com, we make every effort to not classify people and to treat everyone as an individual. Of course, there are some classifications that are unavoidable, such as "human" or "female". Even in those cases, we try very hard to avoid all false stereotypes, or infer from someone's membership in a class, that they posses certain characteristics commonly ascribed to members of that class. One example, that can be found in most old movies and TV shows, is the depiction of women as helpless, screaming ninnies in the face of danger.
Therefore, it is with the utmost reluctance that we deign to classify some people as "Native American " - the erroneous, politically correct newspeak for the former, commonly accepted term American Indian . We are forced to do so because of the efforts of many tribal members to ban or heavily restrict non-"Native Americans" from climbing or recreating on public land.
For many years, PC-inclined types have vehemently objected to huecotanks.com's use of the term American Indian as degrading, inaccurate, bla bla bla, insisting it be changed to "Native American". After careful consideration, we are in the process of making that modification - to a degree. Not to appease the PC-ish, that is farthest from our thoughts. Rather, we sensed an opportunity to clarify that the problem is tyranny in any form from any source. Tyranny from "Native Americans", tyranny from Federal, State or local government - regardless of the source, tyranny is evil and justice demands it be identified and combated. Although we are in the process of purging huecotanks.com of all instances of the hated word "Indian" (other than items pertaining to the nation of India), we are obliged to point out that the use of "Native American" to describe the indigenous tribes that inhabited the North American continent prior to the arrival of European explorers in ~ 1000 CE is clearly a misnomer. Words mean things, and the following definitions are of interest:
Native n. 1. One who, or that which, is born in a place or country referred to; a denizen by birth; an animal, a fruit, or vegetable, produced in a certain region; as, a native of France.
American n. A native of America; — originally applied to the aboriginal inhabitants, but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America, and especially to the citizens of the United States.
Aborigines n. pl. 1. The earliest known inhabitants of a country; native races. 2. The original fauna and flora of a geographical area
So, according to Mr. Webster, anyone born in North America is a "Native American". A more accurate term for describing the original American Indians might be "aborigine", because they were the earliest known inhabitants of the continent. But, it is important to keep in mind that ALL people living in North America migrated here - humans evolved in Africa before spreading to the rest of the world.
Some "Native American" tribes have been a major source of access problems at Hueco since the early 80's. The official tribal spokesmen have been openly racist and sexist in conversations with representatives of huecotanks.com. Having said that, we know that not all tribal members agree with the elders; many "Native Americans" have no problem with climbers at Hueco or with women members voting in tribal elections. Unfortunately, theirs' is a minority opinion among "Native Americans".
According to an article in the El Paso Times dated 1.4.2004, the Tigua tribe re-elected tribal Governor Art Senclair and the Tigua Council to office in a recent election.The article mentioned something else that many people are unaware of - the Tiguas (and many other tribes) do not allow women to vote. This misogynous, oppressive and inexcusable behavior is tolerated and justified because it is "part of their culture" and they are a "sovereign nation".
The entire concept that one must have a certain percentage of " 'Native American' blood" to qualify for membership in a tribe is, by definition, racism. Yes, it is the Law and officially sanctioned by the US government, but that does not make it right nor make it anything less than racism. Over the years, as "Native Americans" have done what comes naturally, i.e. fall in love, marry and have children - surprise, surprise - they have produced offspring that is not 100% "pureblooded". (By the way, that is actually a very good thing. It is only by interbreeding that we can fully eliminate racism, and my kid is a good example: she is 1/4 German, 1/4 Mexican, 1/4 Norwegian and 1/4 Isle of Mann.) So, now that the racial purity of modern "Native Americans" has become diluted, some "Native Americans" are in a panic, and had to recently reduce the percentage of "Native American" blood required for tribal membership to 1/32 (soon to be 1/64). Talk about crazy - the tribes should just drop the racist bit and let anyone become a member, as long as they believe in the goofy religion and pass some kind of test, kinda like our citizenship requirements. Of course, the tribes will never do this, 'cause it would undermine their unjustifiable belief that sacredness comes from ancestors. It would also derail the lucrative racket they have going with casinos under the disingenuous ruse of the "sovereign nation" theory.
Fortunately, the Tigua Plan for Hueco was pretty much DOA in 1997 and no one is talking about it any more. We present it here for historical reference.