The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, the largest in California, occupies 12 square miles of northeast Humboldt County, nestled amid some of the state's most stunning terrain. Its main street is Route 96, the Bigfoot Scenic Byway, which rides the banks of the Trinity River as it swoops from forested mountain slopes to the valley floor and into the town of Hoopa. Here, the highway shares its shoulders with less appealing scenery: dilapidated houses, lawns rotting beneath rusted cars, and gaggles of the reservation's unemployed (about one-third of its 3,000-plus residents) loitering in the shade of boarded-up businesses. In the strip mall that serves as Hoopa's hub, where empty parking spaces bake on a midsummer morning, the rare sight of an out-of-town visitor prompts a long-haired teenager in a Cleveland Indians cap -- worn with no apparent trace of irony -- to ask, "Are you the guy who wants to... More >>>
Warren Tamerius/ Hoopa People Newspaper
David Hostler, curator of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Museum, first learned of the contamination problem when he repatriated 17 sacred items from Harvard University's Peabody Museum.