Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Aradia, the Redwood Tree

After Jason "Shunka" Wilson witnessed the death of a fellow redwood activist, he dedicated his life to saving old-growth redwood trees marked for logging. One such redwood, named Aradia, became the focus for his activism.

Date:   7/7/2005 1:08:29 AM   ( 16 y ) ... viewed 1715 times

In 1998, in Humbolt County, California, Jason "Shunka" Wilson witnessed the death of fellow redwood activist David Nathan "Gypsy" Chain, his head cracked open by a redwood tree felled by an enraged logger. The logger was never charged with a crime. The two were trying to use nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the logging of old-growth redwood trees on land owned by Pacific Lumber Co, the owner of the world's largest private stands of old-growth redwoods. Since Chain's death, Shunka, given his name by a Lakota elder, has continued to dedicate his life to saving old-growth redwood trees marked for logging.

Shunka and other redwood activists focused on saving Aradia, the name they gave to a 700 year old tree, named after the Greek Goddess Diana's daughter who was sent to the physical plane to teach spiritual magic. Aradia stood on the ridge of a hill, towering over the other treetops. Activists had been living in the tree before Chain was killed, but climbed down out of deference to Chain's mothers wishes after his death. When Aradia was marked for logging by Pacific Lumber Co, the activists climbed back up. For over six years, the activists took turns living on platforms put up on Aradia's branches. Shunka acted as spokesperson for the activists, meeting with Maxxam representatives (Maxxam is the parent company that bought out Pacific Lumber Co. in 1985) at a shareholder's meeting. Shunka proposed that Aradia be bought by private parties in order to save her. The same strategy had worked in 1999 when Julia "Butterfly" Hill ended her two year tree sit in a Redwood named Luna after supporters bought the tree for $50,000. Three months after Shunka met with the Maxxam Reps, Pacific Lumber issued its decree: Illegally occupied trees on company land were not for sale.

On September 25, 2004, arborists, loggers, and sheriff's deputies arrived at the base of Aradia's hill. Three activists climbed Aradia in one last attempt to save her. Two of the activists were forcibly removed by five arborists after five hours of struggle. The last activist was allowed to sit in Aradia's branches for a few minutes to say good-bye to her, and tell her he was sorry. He was then bound and removed from the tree. As Aradia was toppled, the activists wept.

This Spring, Shunka filed a complaint with the Sheriff's Department asking that officials re-open the investigation of David "Gypsy" Chain's death; the D.A. promised he would have a prosecutor look at the case. A few weeks after Aradia's fall, the group Environmental Protection Information Center filed a suit in federal court demanding that the government-Pacific Lumber 1999 "Headwaters Deal", allowing Pacific Lumber to log 211,000 acres of redwood, be revamped to better comply with the Endangered Species Act. The case is still pending.

Meanwhile, in another part of Humbolt County called Freshwater Canyon, activists were able to remain in the trees until Pacific Lumber's approved timber harvest plan expired. No sitter has been forcibly removed from a tree since Aradia was cut down. A Pacific Lumber spokesperson stated that the tree-sitters are trespassers on private land, and if the Company feels that they are a danger to themselves, the public, or habitat, the Company would consider having the tree-sitters removed.

As for Shunka, he and other redwood activists are supporting new tree-sits in Fern Gully, not far from Freshwater sites. "There's 12 Aradias up there", Shunka said, "I offered to leave if they would save Aradia, but they didn't take me up on my offer...I'm on the nonviolent warpath."

This message is a summary of the article "That Tree Stood for So Much", Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, June 6, 2005. To read the whole article, go to,1,602852...



Save the Redwoods of Northern California:
Environmental Protection Information Center,
Information and Take Action:

Save the Redwoods League,
Information and Take Action

World Wildlife Fund: Saving the Earth's Forests
Information and Take Action:

National Resources Defense Council: Save Canada's The Heart of the Boreal Forest Information and Take Action:

Greenpeace's Boycott of Kimberly Clark, makers of Kleenex tissues, for clear-cutting in the Boreal Forest:
Information and Take Action:

Protect the Endangered Species Act
Information and Take Action:

Read "Fighting for Forests", National Resources Defense Council

Read about Rainforest Action Network:

Read about Julia Butterfly Hill:

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