Karuk Leader Arrested
North Coast Journal 8/23/07
On Monday evening, the Siskiyou County
Sheriff's Department arrested Karuk Tribe Vice Chairman Leaf
Grant Hillman in Happy Camp. The previous Friday, Aug. 17, the
Siskiyou County District Attorney's office had filed a felony
domestic violence charge against Hillman. Siskiyou County D.A.
Kirk Andrus said Hillman, who lives in Orleans, is charged
with one count corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, and
with two special allegations: inflicting great bodily injury
and using a deadly weapon. Hillman's bail has been set at
The charges stem from an incident in which
Hillman allegedly was involved on July 28 at Nordheimer Flat
on the Salmon River, a tributary to the Klamath, where a group
had assembled for the Jammin" for the Salmon Music Festival.
The festival was the concluding party to week-long events,
hosted by several salmon advocacy and river restoration
groups, that included the annual Salmon River spring Chinook
and summer steelhead dives to count fish in the river and
workshops and talks in the 2nd Annual Spring-run Chinook
According to Siskiyou County Undersheriff Mike
Murphy, his department received call at 11:37 p.m. on July 28
from a CalFire (California Department of Forestry) dispatcher
reporting domestic violence at Nordheimer Flat. CalFire had a
received a call from someone at the scene, said Murphy. "The
[Sheriff's] deputy started responding down there, then he got
a call from them saying that by the time he got there, nobody
would be there," Murphy said. "It's a two-hour drive." The
closer Hoopa substation of the Humboldt County Sheriff's
Office sent an investigator to take statements, and forwarded
them to Siskiyou.
According to a report by Barry Clausen in the
Aug. 8 Pioneer Press, the victim "was treated at the
scene and taken to Hoopa by medical personnel from Salmon
River Volunteer Fire and Rescue. Hoopa Ambulance then took her
to Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata where she was
treated for blunt head trauma and multiple face lacerations."
Clausen's report alleged that the victim had been "hit on the
head with a beer bottle" -- details he said he obtained from
talking to people in Happy Camp who said they'd witnessed or
heard of the event. Clausen also reported that several tribal
elders asked the Karuk Tribal Council to "ask Leaf Hillman to
resign his position as tribal vice chairman."
This Monday, one of these elders, Pauline
Attebery, of Happy Camp, confirmed that report. "We went there
the following Monday. The council was in a planning meeting,
and Mr. Hillman was there. But he did not stay to attend the
meeting we had afterward" with the council, she said. "We told
them we felt [the incident] warranted dismissal. The council
said they needed to get legal advice. And we accepted that."
Attebery said she was not at the Nordheimer event, and that
she had heard of it secondhand. She also said the victim had
been released from the hospital.
The victim signed a form asking the Sheriff's
Department not to release her name, said Murphy.
Hillman, who's been vice chair of the tribal
council since 2002, has been a major player in efforts to
restore the Klamath River watershed and salmon habitat; he has
been at the forefront of pushing for removal of the Klamath
dams. He has been director of the tribe's natural resources
department and the tribe's fisheries department, and has
served on numerous committees and task forces. In 2005, he was
named a finalist for the Buffett Award for Indigenous
Leadership. Hillman, whose family is a dance keeper, also
leads the Karuk World Renewal Ceremony each year, called
As of Tuesday afternoon, an arraignment
hearing date had not been set.
-- Heidi Walters