After months of legal maneuvering, stalling, and stonewalling, University officials will finally have to appear in court to defend their plans to build a strip mall on the National Historic site of Puvungna.
The trial will begin at 9:00 am on Monday, June 26, in the courtroom of Judge Abby Soven, Dept. 68 of the Los Angeles Superior Court, 111 North Hill Street, in downtown Los Angeles. The trial is expected to last several days.
That the case is finally going to trial is testimony to the hard work and dedication of Native Americans and their lawyers at Strumwasser & Woocher, the ACLU, and the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, all working on a pro bono basis.
The lawyers for Cal State, apparently realizing that they have no case, have resorted to tactics which amount to heavy-handed harassment. Plaintiffs have been required to prove their Indian ancestry, to list all the times they have prayed at Puvungna, to list all their friends and relatives who have practiced the Chungichnish religion, and so forth. Although the intent of such questions may be to wear down the plaintiffs, the result has only been to strengthen their resolve to preserve Puvungna.
By the time the case finally goes to court, it will have been over two years since Lillian Robles and other native people began their prayer vigil to protect Puvungna.
It will have been over two years since the Native American Heritage Commission ruled that "any digging, excavation, or grading would result in damage to the sacred/religious site" and recommended that the site be protected from any development.
It has already been over a year since the American Anthropological Association wrote to Cal State Long Beach warning that the destruction of Puvungna "would and should receive active state, national, and international condemnation."
Yet campus officials persist in their plans and the bill for Cal State Long Beach's "Indian War" continues to grow. The total acknowledged by Cal State officials is over one million dollars, as they allocated yet another $250,000 from the General Fund to help pay their share of the legal expenses. The General Fund is the state allocation from the taxpayers and student fees and is intended to be used for instruction and instructional support. Apparently strip malls have a higher priority than quality education in the CSU.
Campus officials have refused to listen to the voices of Native Americans as well their own students, faculty, and members of the community. It is still important to let them know your concerns. Write or call:
Dr. Robert C. Maxson, President
California State University, Long Beach
Long Beach, CA 90840
This document posted: July 18, 1995.