“Everyone has the right to a final resting place. Our ancestors deserve to have a resting place on their original land without the threat of being removed for the sake of a park.” – Corrina Gould, Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone
A spiritual encampment to protect a Bay Area sacred site is now in its 50th day. Local Native community members opposing a proposed development that would disturb the shellmounds, burial sites, and artifacts at Glen Cove have occupied the land to stop construction from going forward. There are many ways that you can help support the struggle to protect this sacred site.
Glen Cove is a sacred gathering place and burial ground that has been utilized by numerous Native American tribes since at least 1,500 BC. Today, Glen Cove continues to be spiritually important to local Native communities. It is located just south of Vallejo, California along the Carquinez Strait, a natural channel that connects the Sacramento River Delta to the San Francisco Bay. Glen Cove is known as Sogorea Te in Karkin Ohlone language.
Since 1988, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD) and the City of Vallejo have been planning to turn Glen Cove into a “fully featured” public park. GVRD’s current Master Plan calls for the installation of a parking lot, restroom facility, picnic tables, and construction of additional trails, including a paved trail. It also calls for re-grading of large areas of the site, which involves digging that will further disturb burial sites and sacred objects. This planned grading includes “capping” known shellmound/burial areas with 12 inches of soil.
The local Native American community has been outspoken about these plans for the Glen Cove Sacred Site, and their message is unequivocal: “Do not further disturb and manipulate this sacred burial ground of our ancestors.” Spiritual leaders from Ohlone, Miwok, Pomo and other local tribes consider the proposed park development plans to be an offensive desecration of this area.
We recognize that our organization, Rainforest Action Network, is headquartered in San Francisco, which itself is on the traditional land of the Ohlone people. Of the over 400 Ohlone shellmound burial sites documented in the Bay Area in the early twentieth century, only a handful of these sacred shellmound sites remain relatively undisturbed today. Glen Cove in Vallejo, California is one of the last remaining sites.
Earlier this year, the United States ratified the U.N. Document on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Articles 11 and 12 uphold many of the principles being physically protected by the encampment at Glen Cove. For instance:
Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains. (Article 12)
The Greater Vallejo Recreational District has a responsibility (both ethically and legally) not to ignore the Native community’s demands to stop the development. It is not too late to choose another way. GVRD decision-makers and the mayor of Vallejo could set an example for how to respectfully engage stakeholders and effectively utilize FPIC (Free, Prior, and Informed Consent) principles.
You can help.
Here is a request from members of the Native community working to protect Glen Cove:
“Please give us your support. Get your signature on our petitions, come to our gatherings and meet the descendants of this sacred place. And most importantly, get the word out. Talk to your neighbors, co- workers and friends about respecting sacred sites and the rights of Indigenous People. See our “How to Help” page to learn about more ways to lend support.”
If you’re in the Bay Area, you are invited to visit Glen Cove/Segora Te, and learn about the site and support the protection of sacred sites and human rights.
Rainforest Action Network stands in support of the spiritual encampment at Glen Cove/Segora Te. The local Native community should rightfully be the lead decision-makers who hold authority in matters related to their Sacred Burial Ground.