Part Two: Interview with Charlie Toledo: First People’s Sacred Relationship with the Land

Charlie Toledo, Executive Directore
Soscol Intertribal Council

Guest Blog: Interview of Charlie Toledo, Executive Director of Suscol Intertribal Council, with Lisa Murgatroyd. Charlie will be speaking at the Harms Vineyards and Lavender Fields Open House on June 18, 2011, at 11 am.

Part Two: Interview with Charlie Toledo: First People’s Sacred Relationship with the Land

Lisa: Drawing on your experience, how do you think we can we hold the land and Earth as sacred once again? 
Charlie: Ceremony is sacred and so is just about everything and how we protect it. The environmental movement is the biggest thing going today that is working towards understanding the sacredness of all places and all land – keeping the water clean, promoting bio-diverse agriculture, keeping the land free of toxics, and respecting the life of the animals with which we share the land.

I used to think that the stories of our people were metaphors, but more and more, as I get older, I feel that they’re real. We have a lot of stories about how the four-leggeds were here first; the coyote was here. Then the two-leggeds were created, and the two-leggeds and four-leggeds used to sit and share life together. Then, the two-leggeds became egotistical, and that was the time of when the imbalance came, and that was when the time was supposed to come. The transition to the time of imbalance that we’ve been in for the last 10,000 years is going to change. We are in the beginning of that transition time right now. It will be like a quantum leap. Things are going to happen whether we want them to our not. People think we have to save the Earth, but it’s not really the Earth we’re saving – it’s ourselves. The Earth will survive without humans. Everything that existed before us will continue without us, but if we want to be here, we’ll need to put ourselves back into balance as a species.

We say that there’s one air, one water, one land. People are really starting to understand this, as we see in the reaction from the tsunami and radiation in Japan. If we defile our water, we defile our food, our air, ourselves. When I moved here in 1982, the Napa River was really seen as a toilet where you threw all your trash, but, fortunately, there is no “away”. Suscol Intertribal Council has been very involved in helping to work towards watershed restoration in the valley.

Lisa: What would coming into sacred relationship with the land look like today?

Charlie:The Napa Valley is considered one of the oldest inhabited places in North America. And so any part of it that moves into balance is important. It’s tragic to see people trying to add more vineyard mono-cropping by cutting out oak trees and redwoods and creating erosion on steep slopes that will wash away the land in ten or twenty years. In taking away trees and land, we take away the air and land of our future grandchildren.

Soscol Intertribal Council Land
Chiles-Pope Valley, Napa County, CA

In answer to this question, I would ask people to look to the part of Earth that you have, that is under your care, and look at how to keep it sacred. Look to one place and realize that it’s every place. Consider that this part of earth is the part that you’re a steward of, and share it, and realize that it’s important for the future. Start by being an example demonstrating that it’s economically and agriculturally viable to care for the Earth.

(Stay tuned for Part III of Charlie Toledo’s interview on Suscol Intertribal Council projects in next week’s blog)


Suscol Intertribal Council: Charlie Toledo can be reached at, (707) 256-3561.Volunteers and donations are gratefully accepted. Donations to help build Suscol House can be given by Pay Pal at or checks can be sent to Suscol Intertribal Council, PO Box 5386, Napa, CA 94581.