A show of strength at Vallejo City Hall – Report, videos & transcripts from July 12th

On July 12th, over 100 people converged on the
steps of Vallejo City Hall to bring a strong and clear message to City Council, which was holding closed session meeting regarding the future of the sacred burial ground known as Sogorea Te (Glen Cove). Demonstrators arrived an hour before the scheduled meeting, gathering together around the drum to sing before entering the council chambers.

Colorful signs carried messages such as “No bulldozing on sacred ground” and “Protect all 15 acres”, referring to the cultural easement that is currently being negotiated by the city, GVRD, and two federally recognized Patwin tribes that the city has chosen to acknowledge as stakeholders. The details of this draft cultural easement have not been revealed to the public or to the Ohlone and Miwok-led Committee to Protect Glen Cove. Speakers throughout the evening encouraged the city to ratify the easement, with the qualification that in order to meaningfully protect the burial grounds, any agreement must encompass all 15 acres and prohibit bulldozing and development.

Dozens of people signed up on cards to speak before the council, however, only five were permitted to speak in advance of the closed session, which convened at 6:30pm. The rest were instructed to wait until the Community Forum at the end of the 7:00 council meeting if they still wished to speak.

Glen Cove residents Sandra Pacheco, Ray Richardson and Jeff Franklin spoke eloquently in the first session, along with Vallejo residents Marcos Negran and Wounded Knee DeOcampo. In a room packed full of supporters wearing red shirts, Wounded Knee closed his speech with a plea to the council, and to GVRD: “It is time to halt. Enough is enough of desecrating sacred sites and burial grounds of indigenous people.”

Demonstrators patiently sat through almost four hours of City Council discourse on matters such as a proposed tax related to marijuana sales, awaiting the opportunity to further speak about Sogorea Te during the final Community Forum. By the end of the meeting at around 11:30pm, eighteen speakers had shared their deeply held convictions about the need to protect and respect the sacred grounds of Sogorea Te. Late-night speakers included Corrina Gould (Ohlone), Li Pono, Galeson Eaglestar (Oglala Lakota), Michelle Steinberg, Reverend Patrick McCollum, Dr. Barbara McGraw, Antonio Gonzalez (Seri), Sam Kirsham, Perry Matlock, LeRoy Cisneros, Zak Alvarez, Morning Star Gali (Pit River) and Mark Anquoe (Kiowa).

An update for supporters and friends of Sogorea Te

I want to begin by thanking each one of you for your support in protecting and preserving Sogorea Te (Glen Cove), a sacred site that has been in what is now Vallejo, CA for over 3500 years. During our occupation of the land from April through July of last year, many of you were instrumental in putting aside your lives, giving of yourselves unselfishly, and participating in creating a living community. This community allowed us all to not only protect a sacred site, but also to see what is possible for humans when they come together and rely on one another, centered around a basis of spirituality and belief in one another.

Each time someone walked onto that land and paid respects to the fire, it strengthened the community as a whole. The miracle was not in just protecting the site, but in protecting each other and allowing the space to include almost anyone who came with a good heart and good intentions. Over the months that we lived together, we endured weather hardships, boredom, laughter, tears, celebrations, and disappointments. We created bonds that will stay with us forever; sometimes with people we would have never imagined being in our lives before Sogorea Te.

We were truly blessed by the ancestors, because we took a stand and because we opened our hearts and allowed a healing to happen. No one and nothing can take away these gifts. Our lives have been transformed and we can never be the same, nor should we want to be. We were all a part of something more than history; we were a part of a miracle, a complete transformation. When that sacred fire that burned for 109 days finally went out in the physical sense, it continued to burn in each of us individually. When we come together, our shared experience rekindles those flames and reminds us that we are human beings with a purpose.

Over the last few months, people have posted alarming pictures on Facebook and have written things about the desecration of Sogorea Te, stirring up great concern amongst those who hold this sacred land close to our hearts. We, the Committee to Protect Sogorea Te, have tried to look into each issue as it has arisen and want to be transparent with all of the people who involved their time and lives in protecting the land. Some of the Committee kept watch over Sogorea Te during the early stages of GVRD’s park development project, while others, including myself, didn’t see what had happened to the land until October, when we were able to end the 2011 Peacewalk there.

Let us not mince words. The sight of what had been done to our beloved land was devastating. We knew when we parted ways and crossed that gate on July 31st that Sogorea Te would never look the same again. But what we saw upon returning was nothing short of getting kicked in the gut. It literally took my breath away.

We mourn what once was. We celebrated a victory in July, and yet, looking at the land now makes this victory taste bitter in my mouth. Out of all that GVRD wanted to do with the land, we only asked for three things: that they not build bathrooms, not include a 15-car parking lot, and not grade a hill that contains] burials/cremations. These are for the most part what we won.

They are not going to build a bathroom, the parking lot is only two handicap parking places and will be located adjacent to the sidewalk. We were aware that GVRD planned to take out the invasive species of plants and tear down the mansion and, yes, even put in trails. However, when I went there several weeks ago, what I saw was that the entire site had been molested. The creek is virtually exposed, all of the trees have been cut down, and, to our dismay, the grading has occurred.

In December, we were able to visit Sogorea Te and walk the site with tribal monitors and other tribal representatives. As I walked along the area where the hill once stood, I looked for anything that could stop them from continuing the destructive grading, but couldn’t find even a shell. The tribal representatives said that they did not find any cultural artifacts or remains and that the hill was only “fill”. In fact, there were many cremations in the area, yet because the soil of the hill had been moved previously and 5ft of it has now been scraped off, finding remnants at this stage seems near-impossible.

It was frustrating that the tribal representatives didn’t have any answers. When was the project going to be finished? “I don’t know.” Why did they take out native plants and still leave some of the invasive? “I don’t know.” Will the tribe make a statement or have a public meeting to let people that supported the tribe in obtaining a cultural easement know what is happening to the land? “No. We don’t have to answer to anyone.”

A tribal sovereign government is still a government. It is also a fact that this same tribal government allowed for the desecration of Sogorea Te in decades past and continues to make concessions to other developers, allowing desecration of other burial and sacred sites. Together we must decide what needs to be done to stop the on-going desecration of all of our sacred places.

The story of Sogorea Te is ours collectively. We each make up a part of the history that was a miracle. It is our voices that need to reach out to everyone. We stood up and lead a good fight. We protected a sacred site, and, at the same time, we protected ourselves and each other. We each brought to Sogorea Te our best and became better human beings because of this experience.

We all continue to mourn not just the loss of parts of the sacred site, but also the community we created and left behind. Human beings need to be needed, and for some, this sacred place gave us a place to belong, a place that we each had worth, and a place where prayers are answered. Our ancestors continue to bless us in so many ways.

I am eternally grateful to each person- elder, adult, youth and child. Grateful to the plants, animals, elements, and medicine that was shared. Grateful for all of the lessons learned and that I continue to learn from this experience. I am grateful to the Creator and the ancestors for allowing me to have such wonderful people cross my life path–and for the continued journey that they have in store for us, as we continue to be inspired by one another and look forward to that community that we all know is possible.

Alert: No Celebration for Desecration – Saturday, June 16th

On Saturday June 16th, GVRD and the City of Vallejo are
holding a grand opening of their newly desecrated park. GVRD’s flyer states that at the “Dedication Ceremony,” there will be speakers from government agencies and organizations that have “participated in the development of this unique park.”

We are asking all of our supporters to come out in force to remind them that we are still watching and that we do not agree with their plans to celebrate destruction and to use these sacred grounds as a recreational park. The Dedication Ceremony will take place between 11am and noon, but we will be arriving early at 10am. We are asking supporters the following:

  • Everyone wear BLACK t-shirts
  • All signage should say No Celebration for Desecration, no other messages please.
  • Mexica Dancers will be with us, but we are also looking for others that would like to offer prayer/songs or spoken word.
  • Please bring your own eating utensils, cups, bowls and water bottles and food to share.
  • Please help us in packing out everything we pack in.
  • We are looking for monetary donations. Please support us in assisting those traveling long distances by making a donation online or in cash on the day of.
  • Meet at 10am. Look for security to direct you where we will be gathering.

We look forward to seeing many of our relatives and friends. Hope to see you there.

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Sogorea Te Reunion Gathering: 1pm on Sunday, April 14th

Hello Friends and Warriors,

We are hoping that you all can come and celebrate our 2nd reunion at Sogorea Te on Sunday, April 14th. This is the date, two years ago, when we decided to take a stand, started the sacred fire and occupied the land for 109 days for the preservation and protection of the ancestors. While we were protecting the ancestors, they did the same for us and we were able to transform ourselves and dream a community into existence.

Meet 1:00pm at Sogorea Te. This is a potluck. Please bring your own plates, cups, utensils and food to share. We would like to talk with one another, catch up and remember the fallen warriors. cara mendaftar sbobet

Bring your clappers and hand drums, laughter and stories… See you all soon.

It’s a beautiful and glorious victory when all nations can come together and fight for what is right and have the outcome be Victorious. You know those heart felt emotions that fill your heart & run through out your body when the Good News is heard about saving a Culturally Sensative Area. For it is our responsibility as keepers of Mother Earth and our Ancesters that we continue to come together for this purpose. As the Creator will always be with us guiding us through our lifes daily struggles. Preservation and Protection of our indigenous territores is very crucial.
May the Great Spirit Always be with us ALL. xs mien bac