A Pit River tribal member opens up about the danger surrounding evictions from tribal housing.
“There's always potential for violence,” explained Allen Lowry, housing coordinator for the Pit River tribe.
In the wake of last Thursday’s quadruple murder in Modoc County, Lowry expressed how quickly tribe evictions can turn into potentially dangerous and violent situations.
“There's always potential for violence.” - Tribal member
When asked if things get emotional or heated during evictions, Lowry had this to say, “In the hearings it can be, it can be tense.”
18 elder families live in Pit River tribal housing in Burney. 12 more live in tribal housing in Alturas, which is Pit River land.
Violence and gunfire erupted in Alturas, at the neighboring Cedarville Rancheria tribal office, last Thursday. Cherie Lash Rhoades was arrested and is the sole suspect in the shooting, facing four counts of murder and two counts of attempted premeditated murder.
Lowry said tribal violence will be scrutinized and overstated because of the recent Alturas shooting. But he himself has witnessed backlash from fellow tribal members.
"Lots of tribal leaders are killed. Members of my own family have been murdered, tribal leaders. It happens on tribal lands, and you know we see it. I don't know if it's going to change or if it’s going to keep happening, but it's out there," said Lowry candidly.
The Pit River tribe focuses on intense counseling for those going through the eviction process.
"It gets tough, it gets difficult. You see we're in here, and there's some things that you can't prepare for. I don't know about what happened up north here, if anything could have been prevented or not, but you hope that you've went the distance and that you're aware of what could happen," said Lowry.
There’s still uncertainty as to why things escalated at the Cedarville Rancheria. What is certain, Lash was ousted as tribal chairwoman of the Cedarville Rancheria just weeks prior to the shooting. Lash’s brother, Rurik Davis was moved into that role.
"It's best for family to be separated from that. It puts another level of anxiety in the room, trouble," explained Lowry.
As policy within the Pit River tribe, separating family from those involved in the eviction process - is essential.
"Your board and your people remove themselves when it comes down to family situations. If you don't, bad things generally happen," said Lowry. But he explained that isn’t always an easy option. "We don't have tribal courts, we don't have tribal police. So we're on our own there."
Pit River tribal housing board members are also considering criminal background checks on incoming tenants, prior to placing them in community housing. Lowry said that would be to ensure safety on their land before someone would be given a place to stay.