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Guilty verdict in Yosemite filming case

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Guilty verdict in Yosemite filming case

Postby copeg » Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:34 pm

Guilty verdict in Yosemite filming case

Published: November 27, 2007


The Union Democrat

Sonora artist Lorenzo Baca is facing big time trouble following his recording of the film "Yosemite Big Time."

During a trial that concluded earlier this month, Baca was found guilty of entering an off-limits Native American roundhouse in Yosemite National Park and making a commercial film in the park without a permit. He is facing up to a year in prison and $10,000 in fines.

"The question is, why has the government spent almost six years and thousands and thousands of dollars to prosecute me over misdemeanors?" said Baca, reached for comment Monday.

Baca — who refers to himself as a Native American educator, spiritual leader and cultural journalist — said he entered the roundhouse in the summer of 2002 to record his "low-tech" film.

"I didn't do anything wrong," he said.

According to a criminal complaint, Baca — who did not have a permit to film — is credited as being the film's producer, writer, director and narrator.

The 30-minute film shows Native American dance ceremonies, interviews with park employees and Baca entering "the cultural resources by stepping over official government signs directing persons to stay behind the barrier," the complaint states.

A park ranger said Baca entered the roundhouse in Yosemite Valley's Indian Village and narrated the film while inside. Entering the roundhouse and sweat lodge is limited to ceremonial use. The buildings are posted with signs advising the public to "stay behind the barrier," and entrances are blocked with barricades, according to the complaint.

Baca said he wonders why people are not allowed to enter the roundhouse, yet they can walk through and photograph the historic Yosemite Valley Chapel.

"The roundhouse is just a replica, a tourist attraction, that was built in 1973 by a white guy under the direction of another white guy," he said.

Attempts to settle the case were not successful.

Baca's trial in Yosemite Valley's courthouse began in August, but was continued until mid November because of issues with his health. Judge William Wunderlich delivered his verdict on Nov. 16.

The date for a sentencing hearing will be set Dec. 18, said Laurie Yu, the courtroom's deputy clerk.

"What can I do about it?" Baca asked. "I really don't think that if a white man had done what I did they would have pursued it as far as they have. I really do believe that my civil rights were violated. It's just history repeating itself."

Baca said the case in Yosemite stems from another involving the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

The Me-Wuk tribe sued Baca more than four years ago after learning that he was selling videotapes and compact discs, dubbed "California Me-Wuk Songs," without permission.

The two parties reached an out-of-court settlement in early 2005 that stated all CDs and videotapes had to be returned and destroyed.

"Yosemite Big Time" was sold in the park and the film was screened in March 2004 at a Palm Springs theater, according to the criminal complaint.

Contact Mike Morris at or 588-4537.

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Postby AldeFarte » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:13 am

Thanks for the info Greg.This is very interesting. I know this is gonna piss a lot of people off and I don't know all the info on this case BUT, What's the big deal? I ,like many in this country am part nate. Get over it. The American culture is stronger and has bigger and better medicine than what was here before. It IS sad, but the indiginous culture was destined to be mostly rubbed out from the moment the white guys hit the shores.Our present culture takes what it can use and pushes aside the rest. Most modern representation of the indiginous people don't even know what went before. They can only guess. Indeed , they take from other indig. cultures what suits their fancy and make it their own. So don't get mad at some white guy trying to make a buck. Get over it and enjoy what you have let the government benevolently grant you.Sounds to me like filming and interviewing weren't really discouraged. If people want to be discreet, they can. PERIOD! jls :)
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Postby Strider » Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:38 am

AldeFarte wrote: The American culture is stronger and has bigger and better medicine than what was here before.

Until the power shuts down.
'Hike long and perspire'
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Postby Sierra Maclure » Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:00 am

Hmmmm. The fact is that you need a commercial permit to make a commercial film in the park just like I need a commercial permit to lead my REI Adventures Backpack Trips in the park.
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Postby SteveB » Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:25 pm

Permits are required for commercial work, and he didn't get a permit. Seems cut-and-dried to me. :)
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