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Protect the Glen Cove Sacred Burial Site!

by on March 18, 2010
 

Yet another sacred site is facing destruction in the United States. The Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD) and the City of Vallejo want to convert the Glen Cove Shellmound site in Vallejo, California, into a community park with its own trail, picnic tables, restroom facilities and parking lot.

The 15-acre Shellmound site, known to the Ohlone Peoples as Sogorea Te is the final resting place for thousands of Indigenous People dating back at least 3,500 years. Historically, it was a “traditional meeting place where services such as burials were performed for over one hundred local California Indian tribes.” Today it is a memory that must be protected.

The “Ohlone [People] say the land’s conversion couldn’t be more insulting, offensive and sacrilegious, particularly because the restrooms would be situated adjacent to the most sacred part of the site, the burial ground,” notes the San Fransisco Chronicle.

“They want to desecrate this sacred land,” says Norman “Wounded Knee” Deocampo, an Ohlone and member of the Vallejo Intertribal Council. “As Native Americans, we need to save what we have left. All we’re asking for is this 15 acres.”

Bu that’s 15 acres too much, as far as the GVRD and City Council is concerned. Nevertheless, Deocampo says the Tribal Council, who is working alongside Sacred Sites Protection & Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSP&RIT) and the International Indian Treaty Council, is “Considering a court injunction and are searching for a pro bono lawyer” to stop the conversion plan.

For more information or to learn what you can do to help, visit http://protectglencove.org/ or send an email to protectglencove@gmail.com – You can also call Wounded Knee Deocampo at (707) 557-2140.

There is also a petition you can sign at http://www.petitiononline.com/GlenCove/petition.html

Stop the Illegal Desecration of Glen Cove!

Preserve the Past – Protects the Future – Save Our Sacred Sites!

“A society that cannot remember its past is in peril of losing its soul.”
- Vine Deloria Jr.

The San Pablo Bay Area was once a thriving multi-national region of many indigenous communities. Before the genocide of the Americas initiated by the arrival of Europeans, the area of Solano County was inhabited by the Coastal Miwok and Karkin (Ohlone) nations. Being cultures of traders, they were but a part of a vast network of merchant cultures that extended across the Pacific Ocean and Central America.

Many different tribes utilized the benefits of the once-thriving Northern California chaparral, estuary, and wetlands, respecting the diverse yet delicate ecosystems to preserve them for future generations. The Coastal and Bay Miwok, South Pomo, Wappo, Patwin-Wintun, North Yokut, and Ohlone nations had over 500 shellmounds that were located and recorded by the late 18th century, most of them being thousands of years old. The practice of consciously caring for the land allowed these cultures and ecosystems to thrive. For thousands of years, the ecological balance was maintained, and what is now known as California remained a beautiful, pristine environment.

As Europeans systematically conquered and enslaved California natives, so too were the villages, shellmounds, and ecosystems exploited and desecrated over the years of colonization. Most of these shellmounds were permanently destroyed along with thousands of years of archeological, anthropological, and spiritual history. In the past 20 years, the few remaining shellmounds and burial sites have been destroyed by shopping mall construction, suburban housing tacks, or other corporate-commercial developments. An infamous local example is the Bay Street Mall located in Emeryville, built over a place of ancestral worship with archeological reports proving that it contained vast burial grounds of the Ohlone nation (hence “Shellmound Drive”). Not only are the physical remnants of these ancient peoples destroyed, but so is the respect and awareness regarding our indigenous ancestors.

The 15-acre Glen Cove Shellmound site (registered CA-SOL 236) is one of the oldest known shellmounds in the San Pablo Bay. Known as “Sogorea Te,” this site was first documented in archeological records in 1907 by an archeologist from the University of California and, according to a 1988 report by Novato Archeological Resource Service, is at least 3,500 to 4,000 years old. Many of the sacred items unearthed from the site in previous years remain illegally housed in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley which houses over 13,000 ancestral remains and over 200,000 sacred objects. At the Vallejo site, intact skeletal remains and cremations have been documented along with mortars and pestles, arrowheads, spear points, eagle claws, bear teeth, bird-bone whistles, and many ceremonial feather/shell jewelry ornaments. It is literally the many layers of generations that actually form the shellmound; it is a sacred site, the final resting place for the ancestors of many different California tribes.

The Greater Vallejo Reaction District (GVRD) and the City of Vallejo are currently developing a
park with trails, parking lot, and amendments that would effectively degrade and destroy this site. Garlon 4, an herbicide, will also be sprayed, saturating the delicate ecosystem with synthetic chemicals.

Preserving and protecting this sacred place in the way those who created it means it is a de facto legal right under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and is an essential part of Indigenous cultural survival. The desecration of the ancient Glen Cove Shellmound and surrounding burial site and the theft of remains and sacred items is criminal. This ignorance, greed, profit, and power over others, through the abuse of the departed is a crime against humanity. The $1.5 million dollar project is simply an attack by developers who see the land as a direct, intravenous line to their bank accounts. Unfortunately, because of the implications of losing money, many developers choose instead to ignore any artifacts and bones found at a development site. In a bankrupt city, with rising rates of violent crime, schools closing, and homes foreclosed, we can think of better places this money should have been channeled to.

Every day, we see the blatant abuse and destruction of our Sacred Sites. Because all humans are indigenous to the Earth, it is up to all of us to protect and preserve the resting places of our Ancestors and other sites that are a rich part of our cultural, spiritual, and traditional heritage. We live in a time where our natural landscapes are fast disappearing, our Sacred Sites are violated, our water and skies poisoned by carcinogenic pollution, our wildlife forced out of their natural habitats while big-box stores, housing developments, and black pavement cover and imprison the land; all in the name of progress.

 
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  • Per Olsen. Denmark
    March 19, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Why no let the Indians “develop” their sacred site – in the end it might make for a better recreational place than the one planned?!

    Reply

    • February 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Sure, lets build a toilet on top of your great grandfather’s grave. Better yet, make it a pay toilet so you can make a profit off of your ancestor’s grave.


  • Edward Croft
    March 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    We should ask where the town council’s ancestors are buried. Maybe when they see an outhouse on their grandmother’s grave they will get the point. It is time to respect all people, not just the dominant ones.

    Reply

  • May 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Its all about $$. I used to live in the Bay area and Vallejo is another town fallen subject to unlimited growth and ticky tacky houses. This land should be given back to Native Americans as a cultural site. It is time we as Americans acknowledge the genocide that happened to the peoples here not too long ago.

    Reply

  • June 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    It’s a sad tale that is, unfortunately, repeated again and again. It is not appropriate to develop Native American Burial Grounds. In the SF Bay Area these burial grounds are often shellmounds. These Ohlone sacred places need to be set aside as sacred places – not developed or recreated upon!

    Reply

  • Ingrid
    July 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    I just can’t believe that this could happen in an enlightened society like USA. It definately would not happen here in Australia.

    Reply

  • Jean
    September 23, 2010 at 12:04 am

    This is indeed a sad state of affairs! Cemetaries are sacred sites. This is an acient cemetary. I had not heard of such mounds until recently. If I get the chance I would like to visit it.

    Reply

  • Jerry Pope
    October 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I deplore the decision of the Town Council and Mayor of Glen Cove California for the proposed park on Native American sacred land. Our ancestors are buried there. How would you like it if someone came to your cemetery and Bulldozed your remains into obliteration? The decision to go ahead and do this against this sacred site is tantamount to genocide and further damages relations between Indigenous populations and “mains-stream society.” What the town council & mayor are doing is blatantly ignoring the wishes, hopes, & dreams of indigenous populations in California and all over the United States. To many of our sacred sites are under threat of demolition as it is. I implore the town council & mayor to reconsider their ill-fated decision, for the betterment of all relations!

    Reply

  • Laurie
    March 27, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    My father was born on this site in 1902. If he were alive today he would not want this land plowed under for a “park” he would want the indians to get back what was thiers in the first place. As I was growing up I heard many stories of Glen Cove where he lived the first few years of his life. I am sad to say I was totally ignorant of the shellmounds as I’m sure he and my grandparents were. Give it to the indians to share it’s rich history with the ancestors that will treasure it. When I visited the site last Monday (3/21/11) I was very sad to see the damage a recent bulldozing has already done. Let them have the land and the structure with our good wishes and apologies!

    Reply

  • Arthur S. Kunin, M.D.
    April 13, 2011 at 11:39 am

    4/13/11

    Stop the project!

    Reply

  • Marcus Welby
    April 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    People asking for address of Glen Cove Burial site….get the webmaster to put it on here

    Reply

    • April 26, 2011 at 1:11 am

      Sogorea Te (Glen Cove) sits at the end of Whitesides drive off of South Regatta in the Glen Cove housing area of Vallejo, Ca. From I780, take the Glen Cove Rd exit. Turn left at South Regatta and right on Whitesides Drive. There is no street address, but you can’t miss us. Thank you for pointing this out. Please come join us if you can.


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