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Tiny Sonoma County reservation makes list of endangered sites 6-14-07

JENNER, Calif. (AP) - A pair of deteriorating redwood buildings on a tiny American Indian reservation have made the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the most endangered historic places in the United States.

The reservation, called Stewarts Point Rancheria, consists of 42 acres just inland from the Sonoma County coast and is home to just a handful of people. The modest structures include a Round House, where the Kashia band of Pomo Indians long held its sacred rites and community celebrations, and an adjacent shed where the tribe's ceremonial regalia are kept.

The Round House is “our capitol, our church, our community center,” said Reno Franklin, the tribe's historic preservation officer.

In recent years, the Kashia say, looters have carried away parts of the buildings and stolen some of the symbols, charms and representations of various spirits.

On Wednesday, the National Trust included Stewarts Point Rancheria on its list of the 11 most endangered historic sites, which also include the 1925 Hialeah Park race course in Florida, the Brooklyn waterfront and hotels along Route 66.

“Everybody can agree on Mount Vernon,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, “but we're saving all kinds of different places. They represent important places, or people, or events, or even a way of life that is worth remembering.”

The designation means the National Trust will lobby for federal funding to help the Kashia preserve their heritage. But the Round House will not be restored, rather it will remain in a state of what Franklin called “managed deterioration” until it disintegrates back to the earth.
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