Thursday, April 14, 2011

SOGOREA TE is a Sacred Ceremonial Site

Spiritual Ceremony and Occupation
Beginning Friday, April 15, 2011 at 8 am
Press Release from "Sacred Site Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes"
Vallejo, California (April 14, 2011) –
As Bulldozers May Arrive Any Day at Ancient Burial Site, Native Americans To Occupy Sacred Land at Glen Cove in Vallejo Spiritual Ceremony and Occupation Beginning Friday, April 15, 2011 at 8 am
Faced with the imminent arrival of bulldozers at the Native American sacred burial site at Glen Cove, Vallejo, members of the local Native American community will hold a religious ceremony to commence an occupation of Sogorea Te, otherwise known as Glen Cove, in the City of Vallejo beginning at 8 am on Friday, April 15, 2011. Native Americans and their supporters have vowed to physically block bulldozers or any other work that would desecrate the burial site.
Native American activists consider this to be the last stand in a struggle that has been going on for over a decade, since the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD) first proposed plans for a “fully featured public park” including construction of a paved parking lot, paved hiking trails, 1000 pound picnic tables and a public restroom on top of the 3500 year old burial site.
On Wednesday, April 13th, Sacred Site Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSP&RIT), a Vallejo-based community organization, filed an administrative civil rights complaint to the State of California alleging that the City and GVRD are discriminating on the basis of race in threatening to destroy and desecrate significant parts of the Glen Cove Shellmound and burial site, for harming Native Americans’ religious and spiritual well-being, and effectively excluding Native Americans from their right to full participation in decision-making regarding the site.
The history and cultural value of the site has never been disputed. Human remains have been consistently unearthed as the area around the site has been developed. Native Americans continue to hold ceremonies at Sogorea Te just as they have for thousands of years. The Glen Cove Shell Mound spans fifteen acres along the Carquinez Strait. It is the final resting place of many Indigenous People dating back more than 3,500 years, and has served as a traditional meeting place for dozens of California Indian tribes.
The site continues to be spiritually important to California tribes. The Glen Cove site is acknowledged by GVRD and the City to have many burials and to be an important cultural site, yet they are moving forward as early as Friday with plans to build a toilet and parking lot on this sacred site and to grade a hill that likely contains human remains and important cultural artifacts.
SSP&RIT have asked GVRD to reconsider their plans to grade the hill and build toilets and a parking lot at the site.
Glen Cove is located near the intersection of South Regatta and Whitesides Drive in Vallejo.
For more information and directions:
Norman “Wounded Knee” Deocampo 707-373-7195
Corrina Gould (510) 575-8408
Mark Anquoe (415) 680 0110
Morning Star Gali (510) 827 6719

2011-04-14 "Native Americans file civil-rights complaint against Vallejo" by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
More than a dozen Native Americans and their supporters gathered Wednesday at Vallejo City Hall to announce filing a civil-rights complaint against the city and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District.
Sacred Site Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes filed the complaint under California Government Code § 11135 alleging the city and the district are discriminating on the basis of race in building a planned park in Glen Cove near an ancient shell mound and burial ground.
An employee at the Attorney General's Office who said he can't be quoted in the press, said that such complaints are reviewed and sometimes investigated by whatever department is deemed appropriate.
With signs reading "No toilets on our sacred sites," "Don't dig up our ancestors" and others, the protesters restated their long-held objections to the plans.
District Maintenance and Development Manager Steve Pressley said the agency intends to restore the site to more closely resemble its original state -- razing a dilapidated mansion, removing non-native plants and replacing them with species indigenous to the area.
They also plan to install a parking lot and a restroom, which is the source of the objections, several protesters said.
District officials say they are putting the restroom and parking lot outside the recognized "culturally sensitive area." The protesters dispute this, saying the entire area likely contains human remains.
"We have worked closely with the member of the Wintun tribe, with the person designated as the most likely descendant for the area, and this plan has been approved," Pressley said. "We have been very diligent, since starting this process in 2003, about being sensitive to the Native Americans' concerns."
The protesters disagree.
Indian remains from Glen Cove were identified by the state Office of Historic Preservation and the Native American Heritage Commission in September 1986 as dating back to 1000 A.D. Indian supporter Bradley Angel argues that "the Glen Cove Shell Mound is a well-documented and culturally significant site ... spanning an area of 15 acres along the Carquinez Strait."
Some argue there may be no place on the continent that doesn't contain some sort of ancient remains. But Indian activist Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo, of Vallejo, Bradley and others say plans to bulldoze a hill that may contain human remains is a violation of Native American civil rights, so they filed the complaint hoping the state will intervene.
"It's important to native and non-native peoples that the (district) not disturb a 3,500-year-old sacred site," DeOcampo said. "We hope people from all over will come pray with us on that day (that work begins on the site) to protect this sacred place."
Angel, of the San Francisco-based environmental group Greenaction, said he's "shocked at the injustice and disrespect that the city of Vallejo and the (district) have displayed toward native people that they would build a toilet and a parking lot on top of where people are buried."
He said civil rights lawsuits rarely gain "traction," so a civil complaint is the "tool" activists have developed. It's not just symbolic, since he and others will follow up with the Attorney General's Office, he said.
"We expect the state to follow its own civil rights laws," he said.
Work on the site "could start as early as Friday," Angel said, though Pressley said it won't because special training is still needed for the contractors but will start within the month.
Protesters "don't trust" district officials, Angel said, and are "watching Glen Cove at all times" in case work starts without warning. And unless some agreement is reached, the protesters will be there when it does. A gathering is planned Friday morning in any case, he said.
"People are coming from all over to Glen Cove in a spiritual way to stand with us in a peaceful manner," said Corrina Gould, an Ohlone who said she has "direct lineage" to the area's indigenous tribes. "Our ancient cemeteries aren't protected like modern ones are, and today we make a stand and say, 'No more! Our ancestors won't be pulled up. Our ancestors won't have a bathroom or a parking lot built over them!'"

2011-04-14 "Ohlones file complaint about plan for burial site" by Carolyn Jones from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Ohlone Indians begged state authorities Wednesday to halt Vallejo's plan to build bathrooms atop an American Indian burial ground.
Tribal members filed a civil rights complaint urging state Attorney General Kamala Harris to block creation of a park with public toilets at Glen Cove, a 3,500-year-old Ohlone settlement along Carquinez Strait.
"Our ancestors deserve a place where they can rest forever," said Corinna Gould, an Ohlone who lives in Oakland. "People everywhere understand that ancient cemeteries are sacred places. But in Vallejo, they want to put a bathroom on one."
Vallejo's park district has been planning for three years to spruce up Glen Cove, a 15-acre spit of undeveloped land along the shoreline. The $1.5 million project includes extensions of the Bay Trail, Ridge Trail and California Delta Trail, a 15-space parking lot and a two-stall restroom.
The Indians insist the cove is one of the last native village sites in the Bay Area that has escaped development, and should remain undisturbed. That means no trails unless they are unpaved, no parking lot and most definitely no bathrooms, said Norman "Wounded Knee" Deocampo, head of the Ohlone group that filed the complaint, which accuses Vallejo and its park district of discrimination.
"We are pleading with Vallejo not to desecrate this site," he said. "So many Ohlone remains are already in boxes at UC Berkeley. We want these ones here left alone."
The park district, which wants to start work sometime this month, plans to pour 2 feet of dirt over the area with the largest concentration of artifacts in an attempt to protect Indian remains, shell mounds and other sacred village remnants.
Steve Pressley, maintenance and development manager for the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, said educational signs about the Ohlone will be placed in the parking lot. "We want to respect the culturally sensitive areas, but we also want the park to serve the community as a whole, not just one group," he said.
The village was a convenient meeting spot for tribes from the Bay Area, delta and Central Valley, offering fresh water and shelter from the howling winds of Carquinez Strait. Archaeologists have found pottery, animal bones, human remains, shell fragments, mortars and pestles and arrowheads at the site.
In the 1870s the land came under control of the Stremmel ranching family, who gave the Glen Cove parcel to the city in the 1980s on the condition it become a park.
The village site has, through it all, remained a hallowed site for the Ohlone. Tribal members gather there two or three times a year for ceremonies, including blessings of the creek, oak trees and rocky beach, which they consider sacred.
Harris' staff will probably refer the complaint to the Native American Heritage Commission in Sacramento, which will make a recommendation to the attorney general, a spokesman for Harris said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, tribe members said they'll block the bulldozers when and if they roll in. Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said he might very well be there with them.
"It's their burial ground and they don't want to see it desecrated," he said. "I think we ought to be sensitive to that."

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