It’s been a long journey for the MiWuk people in Yosemite National Park, but it appears that things are finally moving forward on the construction of their traditional roundhouse on national park land. And the site is particularly significant, as it’s where their Wahhoga Village was once located, before the National Park Service leveled it in 1969.
And I got to see the progress they were making on our hike along the Valley Loop Trail last month. The roundhouse is being constructed just west of Camp 4, and although it’s nor currently wheelchair-accessible, it’s in a good location to add wheelchair access when it’s completed.
Once the roundhouse is completed it will be used for cultural and spiritual ceremonies.
Although the go ahead was given to begin construction over 10 years ago, work on the roundhouse was halted by a former park superintendent due to “safety concerns”. According to Tony Brochini, the former tribal chairman and executive director of the Wahhoga Committee, “The park service wanted us to follow project management protocol and we were moving forward with our traditional methods.” Apparently things have been sorted out as they are definitely using their traditional construction methods, and doing as much by hand as possible.
And the National Park Service seems to be on page with this now. Says Scott Carpenter, Cultural Resources Program Manager for the park, “The completion of the roundhouse will provide cultural continuity of the historic site at Wahhoga, and allow for ongoing spiritual and traditional practices unique to Yosemite National Park.”
I feel privileged to have been able to witness a bit of the construction process, and look forward to seeing the completed project.
But like I said, this one has really be a long time coming for the MiWuk people.