LAKE COUNTY – "At 6 years old, she weighed not much more than one of the cannon balls that tore through the people like a boulder though willows. Crouching beneath the water beside the bank she sipped air through a reed to maintain her life. Above her, an old world was ending, washed in blood.”
Those are the words Clayton Duncan uses to tell the story of his grand-grandmother, Lucy Moore, and her survival of the events of Bloody Island.
The year was 1850. Lucy hid in the bloodied water behind the tules with her mother at Badonnapati, Old Island – called Bloody Island after dragoons and a militia under the command of Captain Nathaniel Lyon massacred between 150 and 200 Pomo men, women, elders and children, bayoneting women and babies, stepping on and crushing infants, "braining" (a 19th century term) children by smashing their heads against tree trunks.
Given some limited public outcry, they were charged for these crimes but not convicted, and Lyon later was promoted.
The members of the militia, some of them prominent members of society, subsequently took ownership of the best Pomo lands around the lake and all over Lake County, said Duncan, for the unofficial design of this particular expedition was to "clear" the land of its indigenous inhabitants, as the official policy of California, supported by the federal government, was to exterminate all of the Indian population.
A few Pomo people survived Bloody Island. It took five days to gather the bodies for cremation, Duncan said. Orphaned children had to be hidden from settlers gathering slaves for the market in central California.
Despite this and many more hardships unleashed on native people by the US, Duncan said Lucy Moore became a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother, lived to be 110 years old, and in her old age prayed every day to forgive America.
It is in her memory and to honor her, her prayer and all who died at Bloody Island that Duncan created the Lucy Moore Foundation in 2000, having for many years approached the tribal leadership to address some of the following issues, without success.
The foundation organizes the yearly May 15 Sunrise Ceremony at Bloody Island, to honor and remember the people who died there during the massacre.
The Lucy Moore Foundation's vision is to educate the public about the massacre, one of many in California, according to Duncan. The group also is working to locate, preserve and memorialize the site of the mass grave – where the victims of the massacre, whose only fault was to live on their own land and stand in the way of America's expansion – were thrown into a hole and cremated.
The foundation's mission is to pronounce Bloody Island and the surrounding 500 acre of marshlands an area of archaeological sensitivity, as a variety of significant prehistoric and historic periods archaeological sites exist within the borders of the 500 acres Bloody Island project boundaries.
As part of that mission, the foundation wants to buy Bloody Island and preserve the rich archaeological and anthropological resources known to exist in great abundance on and around the Island, its wetlands and its bay.
On the island will be created a Lucy Moore Foundation Museum and Cultural Center in the traditional shape of a round house, Duncan said.
In accordance with the prophetic dream of Sage Runningbear and the traditional use of the four directions, the foundation also is planning to build and develop:
To the east a research center/laboratory, focusing on nutrition, natural medicine and the environment;
To the north a counseling center for abused, neglected children of all races;
To the west a healing center offering Native and non-Native spiritual and healing practices and therapies such as the sweat lodge, round house and Native American church, herbal medicine, yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture and other healing methods;
To the south an amphitheater and spaces for concerts, celebrations, pow wows and other events.
"If we can do this together, to know and learn from each other, to accept the truths of the old world and the new, perhaps our children will not see the colors of skin, the manners of our worship, our cultural heritages as characteristics that divide us,” said Duncan. “Perhaps they will see them as the attributes that unite us so we can all work together to fix, mend and heal the Earth, our mother.
“Doing this, we know in our hearts and from the wishes of our ancestors that it will bring back the balance, using Lucy Moore prayer of forgiveness,” Duncan said.
Anyone seeking more information about the Foundation, including foundation meeting dates, should contact Clayton Duncan, [email protected] or 707-274-6788.
E-mail Raphael Montoliu at [email protected].