The Ohlone, Miwok and Yokut Peoples need your support. For more than a decade, tribal leaders have been attempting to push The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), which maintains and operates a system of regional parks within the San Francisco Bay Area, to take appropriate steps towards the protection and management of cultural sites and resources within their work area.
Of particular concern is the EBRPD's decision to turn Brushy Peak--the site of the Ohlone, Miwok, and Yokut origin stories--into a recreational preserve against the wishes of the concerned Indigenous peoples.
Buried Voices, a new documentary film by Michelle Steinberg, provides a great deal of insight into this struggle. As the film shows, the EBRPD refused to consult or accommodate the Ohlone, Miwok or Yokut in any meaningful way.
However, we now have an opportunity to change that. A public comment period on the EBRPD's 2012 Master Plan (PDF) is open until October 11th. We have until then to pressure the EBRPD into adopting more responsible policies that are in line with the minimum standards outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"The Master Plan shapes the organization’s policies. Despite stating that they would actively include Indigenous voices in the revision process, EBRPD has made no attempt to do so, explains a recent appeal for support by Michelle Steinberg, Corrina Gould and Vincent Medina. "As is, the language in the proposed update fails to offer a concrete guideline for the agency’s protocol in the treatment of Indigenous sacred areas and does nothing to ensure that meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities will be a top priority. In fact, EBRPD’s conduct around the update of this document precisely reflects why their policies are in need of radical revision."
"At this point we are asking supporters to take several critical actions ... to help us hold EBRPD accountable for their continued lack of attention to the concerns of Indigenous people and encourage them to create a responsible position for the future."
1) Please write letters to EBRPD prior to October 11th to insist that they give Indigenous people a defining voice in how the District manages their sacred sites. The more specific that you can be in reference to the proposed revisions, the better. The template found at the end of this message identifies the key issues. Sending an original letter is ideal if you have time to revise it in your own words. Please save a copy of whatever you send for future documentation.
Hard copies of your letter should be sent to:
Board of Directors and General Manager Robert Doyle
Master Plan Policy Update
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Court
PO Box 5381
Oakland, CA 94605-0381
Emails should be sent to:
General Manager Robert Doyle: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board Clerk: email@example.com
2) Please join us at the first of six public meetings on September 11th at 7pm at Richard Trudeau Training Center, Redwood Regional Park, 11500 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619. We hope to have a strong turnout to encourage the district to put Indigenous people’s concerns at the forefront of their revision process. A complete schedule of upcoming meetings can be found at: http://www.ebparks.org/Page50.aspx.
3) Submit comments to the EBRPD’s online Master Plan comment forum at: http://ebrpdmasterplan.org/
East Bay Regional Parks District
2950 Peralta Oaks Ct
Oakland, CA 94605
Dear EBRPD Board and Staff-
I recently read the Draft Master Plan revisions and would like to add my comments. The language in the Cultural Resources Management section of the draft Plan revisions is too general. EBRPD needs to use more specific phrasing when defining how they will involve local Native peoples in the preservation of their cultural resources. Indigenous people from this region must be equal partners in the management of their sacred sites and that is up to the Master Plan to ensure. Furthermore, cultural and natural resources cannot be seen as separate entities as they are inextricably linked for Native peoples who must have a guiding voice in the stewardship of both.
The following are suggested modifications to the Cultural Resource Management section. Changes are found in red lettering.
CRM1: The District will manage, conserve and when practical restore parkland cultural and historic resources and sites with local Native American communities, to preserve the heritage of the people who continue to inhabit this land.
CRM4: Native American communities will determine the level of public access to their cultural and historic resources. The District will research the practices being employed and generally accepted as best management practices by State and Federal Parks and SB18 to minimize the impact of public use and access on these resources, and to interpret the significance of these resources on a regional scale when appropriate.
CRM5: The District will include Native American and other culturally associated peoples in discussions, at least 90 days prior to making any changes regarding the preservation and land use planning of sites and landscapes significant to their culture.
CRM6: The District will accommodate requests by historic groups, Native Americans, and other culturally affiliated groups to maintain and use cultural sites and to play an active role in their preservation and interpretation.
Similar language should be adopted into the Natural Resource Management component of the plan, as what the EBRPD defines as natural often has cultural significance to Native peoples. EBRPD should commit to convening an advisory board of local Indigenous people to oversee the decision-making that pertains to their sacred places.
By including these modifications to its Master Plan, East Bay Regional Parks will be making significant changes to its historical relationship with the Indigenous people whose land they now occupy. It would demonstrate the desire of EBRPD to become partners with those who have the longest continuous investment in this land.