Preserving Ohlone cosmology and teachings
Indian Country Today
In California, the site of one of the oldest and largest Ohlone villages is being threatened by developers. The proposed housing complex would destroy what's left of the village, which is the first place along the San Francisco Bay area where people lived.
Joining us today to talk about the cultural and archeological significance of the site is Corrina Gould from the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone, who has been working to protect the sacred site and archeologist Christopher Dore, who has helped the site gain eligibility for the national register of historic places.
Plus national correspondent Dalton Walker is on the newscast. Dalton will be sharing more of the chilling details that have come out from Washington D.C.
Some quotes from today's show
"Well, we're talking about 200 short years, about 200 short years that we had first contact in our territory and our ancestors were taking care of the land like Indigenous people all over the world. We had a relationship and lived in reciprocity with the territories that we were on. In the West Berkeley Shellmound was the first place that my ancestors lived along the Bay. We created our village sites and our Shellmounds, our cemeteries where saltwater met freshwater. And so creeks were there."
"There were fishing villages and there were places. And so I imagined that my ancestors created these places because like all of us were connected to the lands in different ways. But this particular site for our people, what's a site that actually connected us to the afterworld as well. This particular site, the West Berkeley Shellmound is connected to what people now call Alcatraz, where our ancestors, we believe sat on that rock for four days while we had ceremony."
"So the national register of historic places has four criteria by which you can become eligible for listing, and you only need to meet one of those criteria and typically any type of resource, it could be a building, or it could be an archeological site typically meets one or two of those criteria. This site is the only site that I have ever worked on in my career that actually meets all four of those criteria. So it's extremely important and important for a large number of different reasons. As well the block that is scheduled for development that we're kind of talking about now, the site itself the village site covers the touches parts of eight blocks. So it's large in size."
"The development that's trying to happen covers one of those1 blocks. And that block happens to be a block that has, for the most part, never been built upon. There are a few structures known from historic maps in one corner of our block from the 19th century. But for the most part that has remained unbuilt for forever. And it's the only block in that entire part of Berkeley that has never really been substantially built upon. So therefore the value of those archeological deposits for many different people, for the Ohlone, for archeologists, for just the people in the community of Berkeley, are very very important and worth a preservation effort."
"When Wednesday happened and things started to get pretty intense at the capitol, you could kind of tell what the reaction would kind of be because a lot of people already were kind of wondering why there was a double standard regarding protest with Black Lives Matter movement and other more peaceful protests. And so when things just got kind of out of hand, you kind of knew right away where this was going. And a lot of people just jumped online and showed photos of past protests in Indian Country."
"Specifically Standing Rock where they're being hosed down, other things are being thrown at them and they're comparing how this was drastically different. This was unfair most were saying with this happening in real time, in this chaos, at the capitol, and you had leaders out there from Native organizations and even tribal leaders, this kind of saying this is shameful. And second, this is a double standard on what's happening in basically real time for the world to see."
Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.
Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.
Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.