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Ronald Montez Sr
Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO)
The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians
Giving the town of Kelseyville a new name has strong support from tribal members:
The late Thomas Leon Brown, an elder of Elem Modun, attended our early meetings, and suggested the name Citizens for Healing for the group.
Habematolel and Elem hosted our meetings. Robinson Ranchera hosted a meeting of the Visioning Forum.
Ron Montez, THPO for Big Valley Band of Pomos (The Tribe nearest Kelseyville), participated in our working groups, and brought several elders from local tribes to speak at our meeting at Habematolel. They shared stories from their great-grandparents of the horrific history of Andy Kelsey and the impact it still has on their lives.
Robert Geary (THPO for Elem) assisted us by explaining the various names for Konocti (which vary according to the location from which it is viewed), and that names belong to particular tribes, whose permission must be sought before using one.
Three tribal members participate in the Lake County Visioning Forum, at which Historic Names was raised as an issue.
Tribal Testimomy at our meeting at the Tribal Hall of the Habematolel.
Choosing to name a town after a criminal, and continuing to retain the name despite public outcry, comes at a moral cost.
Attempts to rename Kelseyville as “Konocti,” a name honoring the sacred mountain, Mt. Konocti, overlooking Clear Lake, are gaining traction, as part of any effort led by a local group, Citizens for Healing. In association with a series of monthly meetings held around Clear Lake, on Sunday, August 14th, 2022 a panel discussion headed by Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians elder and THPO Director Ron Montez, Sr. provided hours of testimony by Natives of the pervasive, multigenerational trauma elicited by the town’s name.
“It’s still an open wound that’s not been healed. We are a hurting people. We’ve wanted to change the name way before [anyone non-Native] thought of it,” explained Ron.
Jesse Gonzalez (Scotts Valley tribe), a descendant of Shuk, a chief who witnessed the Bloody Island massacre, says he doesn’t understand why a town would choose such a name. “I’m hoping we don’t have to plead our case – why would anyone want to back the name of a person who has committed such atrocities?” he asked during the discussion. “It’s not in the past for us; it’s not been swept under the rug for us – we’ve always known. I’ve known since I was ten years old.“
Clayton Duncan, the great-great-grandson of a little girl who survived the massacre by hiding underwater in the tule reeds (while using a reed as a makeshift snorkel), after listing a number of federal policies (e.g., the 1830 Indian Removal Act, the 1887 Dawes Act, ) depriving Natives of homelands, identities, and rights, described the retention of the Kelsey name as “honoring a man who stole the souls of little girls.”
My [Jennine's] adopted family, the Tado (a Kempo Manggarai clan) practice an apology ritual. I’ve been both the initiator and recipient of these rituals, whereby a symbolic gift and ritual speech are exchanged in order to repair a broken relationship. A similar ritual exists here – Ron Montez emphasized that when local authorities step forward to acknowledge history of atrocities and present an appropriate gift (such as the renaming of Kelseyville to Konocti) to be received ritually by tribal elders, reparations and reconciliation can begin in Lake County.
[ Dallas Cook ]
Another said that the name is like "a wound infected for years" and that we must "heal it in order to move forward".
"All the tribes agree: Do the right thing"
[ Alan Fletcher ]