Save the West Berkeley Shellmound
Organized by: Corrina Gould
April 07, 2017
Our first goal for the fundraiser was to raise enough money for our attorney as well as experts to comment on the Environmental Impact Report in order to help protect this sacred site. As the developer has released a NEW Project Application, we are now asking for money to help fund our attorneys so that we can expediently challenge the new project proposal.
Please email BayAreaSacredSites@gmail.com for any questions or how you can volunteer and be of service.
For more information about the site, please visit http://ipocshellmoundwalk.homestead.com/West-Berkeley-Shellmound.html
Here is some info written about the site by Richard Schwartz, Steering Committee Member for the Emergency Campaign to Save West Berkeley’s Indian Village Historical Heritage Site.
"We write to you from Berkeley, California to ask you for your help. The oldest of the Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay- the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village site- is threatened with destruction. This place was occupied since somewhere between 5800 and 5000 years ago and has been a continuous sacred landmark for the Ohlone Indians (The indigenous people to the San Francisco Bay Area) today.
A Shellmound is where people living by the bay created monuments by putting shells of oysters, clams and mollusks, the bones of deer, otter, rabbit, ducks, coyote and sturgeon; of condor skins and the ashes of fires and stones and earth until the monument rose several stories tall and reached out 300 to 400 feet horizontally beyond its peak. You could see it for miles. People lived there, ate there, held their ceremonies there, told their stories to their children there. They buried their love ones, their leaders, and their friends there over thousands of years of continuous presence. They spoke to their ancestors there and fed them, having buried them there to be close to them.
Now, the mound site has been leveled and hauled away by hundreds of years of occupation of Ohlone lands by nonnative peoples. What remains of it is what the earth still shelters below its skin- what human burials and regalia, what massive shell layers and antlers and salmon and whale and oysters and deer; and eagles buried ceremonially with round abalone disks over their eyes, just like the humans buried beside them; moles and squirrels, abalone pendants, bone awl basket weavers, bone sweat scrappers for sweat lodges and their whole world still remain at rest under the ground, as recent burials found across the street from the proposed development attest to.
A real estate developer wants to dig up this world only protected by soil now and they want to excavate it for an underground parking garage and stores and apartments five stories high. The place, the remains of everyone, the history of this place and the spirit of this presence will all be destroyed- a home of five thousand years, their names and their bones would be hauled away forever, cutting the link, the road, way home to this place for many living people.
We have until January 12, 2017 to make comments on the Environmental Impact Report, to have people from all over the world, but especially Native Peoples from the Americas, stand together with us and speak out about this proposition and act to stop this development. Allowing this development would be destroying any respect or bonds in a multicultural society in the 21 st century when laws and good hearts are supposed to prevent more wounds like this, especially to Native Peoples.
We need to stop this project by speaking out in writing and responding the “environmental impact report” (EIR) and making public comments- tell them that you are all watching and you are horrified that developers would propose such a destructive act in such a sacred place when there is land elsewhere where much less harm would be rendered. Where is the city government, which will ultimately decide the site’s fate, to protect this world? Please tell them their thousands of new residents right by the bay would harm the water; overwhelm the sewage and drainage pipes. Please tell them they must respect the wounds of the Ohlone who have endured enough loss, enough murder, enough suffering and the government should not allow a project that harms so many so deeply so some few could make millions of dollars for themselves.
Please respond to this EIR and tell them they ignored the many hundreds of burials already known to have been taken from their rest from sanctified burial ceremonies that laid them there. They surround the site and are likely within where the garage would be dug. They should not cause the loss of this site and disturb these burials and separate us all from ever knowing them and their world. Please respond to the EIR and tell them they cannot isolate part of this great site and not see it as part of the whole site (which is larger than their square-block lot) and they don’t see the context of this site to both history and the potential to make lives better today if it is preserved, with our help, our voices and our lives. Together.
Please tell them the methodology used to assess the archaeology was incomplete and faulty. This site has never really been studied properly and the larger site (beyond the development lot) is still a mystery we can’t lose or destroy. Tell them they ignore the context of the larger site in just analyzing their lot and trying to remove its analysis is from its original larger village site. Tell them they still do not know what is under the soil- that they do not have enough data to say there are no cultural or humans remains there and that makes their conclusions reached by analysis of faulty methodology. Please tell them they need peer reviews of the archaeological methods, as they are faulty. Tell them the city violated its responsibility to protect a site the United States Federal government determined to eligible as a National Historic Landmark. The State of California determined the same thing- that their proposed mitigation is a false legal veil of false compliance. Their lot is within this larger site and so the whole area needs to be assessed to understand the role of any part of it, not destroyed. The archaeological reports and methods and data are heavily disputed by professionals in how they were reached.
Please search inside yourself and speak with your family and friends and see if you can help us. We need your participation and your voices urgently at this time and fast (submitted before January 12, 2017). Thank you."