Saturday, January 31, 2015

California Foodways: Native American Tribe Bets on Olive Oil

Aired on KQED's The California Report Magazine on December 7, 2014.

Northern California’s Capay Valley is bucolic, with ranches, alfalfa fields and small, organic produce farms that have earned this valley a reputation as an agricultural gem. It’s pretty serene, except for the huge casino complex (with a 200-room hotel, 10 restaurants and a golf course) in the middle of fields. That casino probably saved the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, whose numbers dwindled to just two families after missionaries, settlers and Gold Rush prospectors arrived and the tribe was removed from its land.  The casino attracts an average of 2,000 visitors a night, swelling the valley’s population and traffic.  It’s caused tension between local farmers and the tribe.  Now, though, the Yocha Dehe’s investing casino earnings in agriculture, especially in olives, one of California’s new hot crops.  Tribal leaders say that being in the same business as their neighbors is helping to mend fences.