Dear Greater Vallejo Recreational District- Please Don't Desecrate Our Ancestors' Graves


Tiny - Posted on 29 June 2011

Author: 
Youth, Poverty, Elder and Indigenous Scholars @ RYME & PeopleSkool

 

Editors Note: As a grassroots, non-profit, Bay Area, arts, media and education organization led by poor and indigenous youth, adults and elders, POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE is extremely concerned about the security of our indigenous ancestors at Glen Cove, Sogorea Te and we stand in solidarity with the occupation by indigenous peoples at Glen Cove and will offer media and resources until there is a peaceful conclusion that secures the safety of the sacred shellmound.

 

The Following are a series of letters, words and poetry for the Greater Vallejo Recreational District (GVRD) and the Mayor of Vallejo created by youth and adult media students in the Revolutionary Youth Media Education Program (RYME) and PeopleSkool at POOR Magazine..

 

From Taiyana, Youth Scholar, Aged 14

Dear GVRD,

I don’t feel you are making the right decision,

tearing precious land from the Ohlone people. You

wouldn’t tear the burial ground of soldiers and war

veterans so why tear and dig up history that is as

important as the resting place of soldiers. Fight the power!

 

Taiyana Jahnel

14 years old

 

 

 

 

From Stacey Langley Watts, Disability Indigenous Scholar

Dear Corporate (most likely) White Folks at the GVRD,

 

Halito.  My name is Stacey Langley-Watts and I am a Choctaw Indian.  My people are originally from Mississippi but were removed from their homes during the Trail of Tears.  I moved from Texas to California for the summer, and in the Native tradition, when you come to someone's house as a guest, you protect the house.  This is my house for the time being, and I want to support my Ohlone brothers and sisters in their fight to keep their land from being turned into a park.

 

Our ancestors are very important to us as Native people.  We want the city of Vallejo to stop their plan to build a park on this land, because it's where our people are.  A cemetery is not a place to party.  It's a place to pay respect to the elders.  The City of Vallejo doesn't care one way or another about history.  All they care about is money.  Only 10 0r 15 shell mounds remain in the Bay Area, and we need to save them from becoming malls or places for rich white folks to shop at Victoria's Secret or eat at yuppie restaurants.  The land is beautiful and sacred just as it is.  Your corporate interests don't need to change the shape of the land.

 

We are going to fight this big money with our voices and our presence.  Indian people are strong people and you can't keep us down.

Sincerely,

 

Stacey Langley-Watts

 

From Aminah Jalal, Youth Scholar, Aged 10

 

I don’t think it is nice

I don’t think it is right

I don’t think you want

To see the bodies

You will probably

Get a fright

 

 

 

                               Aminah Jalal

                               Age:10

 

From “Tree”, Youth and Poverty Scholar, Aged 20

 

Dear GVRD,

 

    God sent an idea to someone special. The idea was to protect the deceased. Before they were called burial grounds, they were called shell mounts as where the Ohlone people protected their ancestors. Now today we want to keep Glen Cove sacred burial grounds alive, for the colonial people. All we ask for is respect, peace, and that our land may be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                          Sincerely, Tree Davis, age 20

 

 

From Ya’mil, Youth Scholar, Aged 12

 

Dear GVRD,

 

My name is Ya’mil and I am 12 years old.

Why do you want to bulldoze the ancient Ohlone Indian burial

Ground? How would you like it if we bulldozed your ancestors

burial ground? If you had a heart you wouldn’t do this, let me

know if you change your mind.

 

`sincerely

~YamiL

 

From Michael, Incarceration and Poverty Scholar

Grandmother,….wake up!

 

Grandfather,…. Shift your old bones!

 

Your rest is interrupted,

 

Your slumber with the ancestors is ended.

 

Rise from the cool embrace of our cool dark mother.

 

WAKE UP!!

 

We need your bones to reveal their secrets.

 

We need your eternal resting place for a restroom.

 

A place for the world’s thinnest toilet paper to reside.

 

RISE UP!

 

Make way for the inheritors of the grave!

 

There is no longer any place for you here.

 

The land you abided in life.

 

Grandmother!

 

Grandfather!

 

You are being evicted in death, by those who stole your land in life!

 

WAKE UP!!

 

From Philip, Indigenous Youth Scholar,

 

To whom it may concern, (at GVRD)

 

My name is Phillip Standing Bear. I am Lakota Sioux from the plains

tribes. I am concerned about what you have planned to build over the Glen

Cove Burial Grounds. Do you realize that a park and bathroom area is not

even across the city but in fact, just around the corner? If you believe that

building a little park for the little boys and girls for the neighborhood, when

it probably will not be used anyways.

 

These grounds are sacred and our own ancestors who built these

Shell mounds, would not even walk on those grounds if not to just pray, give

thanks, give gifts to loved ones lost. These burial grounds are just like your

cemeteries. Many things are the same while you still consider these grounds

like they were yours. How many times a year would you go and dig up your

grandmother, or your grandfather, for “examination” and “detail”?

 

Don’t do this to these people. If only just let us keep our sacred lands.

That is all that is left for us other than our daily lives. Just give it some

consideration, that when you are used to having nothing, that the little things

in life matter more to some than others.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

Sincerely, Phillip S.B.

 

From Liana, Mama and Indigenous Scholar

 

 

Blessings to the living!  My name is liana. I know that the world will never end.  My Grandma said so.  She said it’s the people!  I believe that GVRD should do the right thing

 

Respect the land . Do the right thing!

 

 

 

From Rashida, Youth Scholar, Aged 12

 

The government wants that to happen because they know how powerful the Native

American people were. So they wanted to know their DNA. They don’t want the people

to know how creole they are. They don’t want them to know their true history. So They

cover it up with stuff that don’t matter! And they think the people don’t now about it.

 

my name is RASHIDA REED, I am 12 years old.

 

 

From Kamaria Shanndoah, Youth Scholar, Aged 14

Dear GVRD,

I don’t feel that it is fair for you to dig up the burial grounds of the Ohlone people. There are only a handful of shell mounds left, so why get rid of them, or build a park on top of them? Who would want to play on top of a burial ground? If a person wanted to dig up the remains of your ancestors and study them would you like it? I don’t think so. It is only fair to keep the shell mound there and not dig it up.

  

    Thank you,

     Kamaria Shanndoah

 

 

From Ayat,  Poverty Scholar

 

The ancestors buried one another here

Among the empty lots markets and shops

Under your parades planned poverty and sneers

They lay without peace, grieving non-stop.

 

Does your laws for the land state;

Show no respect, be a disgrace

In Glen Cove there is no respect there

I thought only devils torture the dead

 

 

From Ayana Jalal, Youth Scholar,

 

 

I  don’t think its right that you want

 

to make Glen Cove in to a park.

 

If you want to make a park or make

 

a mall make it some were else.

 

         -Ayana  Jalal

 

 

 

From Youth and Indigenous Scholar Tiburcio, 7 years old

 

Dear G.V.R.D,
Why would you do this to our people?  Without them there would be no us.  You can kill us with nuclear bombs but do not take out the history of Vallejo to make a park.  I don't know much, but i do know ancestors and they're fragile with people who respect but they don't respect people who don't respect.

Tiburcio
 

 

 

From Tony, Robles, Co-editor and Revolutionary Worker Scholar @ POOR Magazine

 

To whom it may concern:
I am surprised at the actions of the city of Vallejo in regards to the building of a playground and public restroom on an Ohlone burial site.  I have always felt a spirit of community in Vallejo--a city whose landscape is a story of the history of the land--from the Indigenous Ohlone to the Spanish to the African Americans who migrated from the south to the Filipino Community to Indigenous people from this hemisphere who have migrated here to escape poverty and other circumstances.  I would think that a city with so rich a community and history would see the historical and cultural importance of the shell mound site to the Ohlone people.

I was taken by a story i read recently about the Russian consulate replacing gravestones of deceased Russian merchant seaman in a Vallejo cemetery.  The replacement of the gravestones was done out of respect to the legacy and spirits of the seaman.  I read that the actions of the consulate created a bureaucratic scenario among Vallejo city leaders, underscoring the importance of honoring our ancestors/elders.
 
I urge the city council to honor the Ohlone people leaving the shell mound undisturbed.  Those in public office may be the representatives of political constituencies, but lets not forget that native people are the spiritual guardians of this land, a land that predates the name Vallejo.

Sincerely,

Tony Robles
Co-Editor POOR Magazine

 

________________________________________________________

 

From Tiny Gray-Garcia co-madre, co-editor POOR Magazine

 

Dear GVRD and Mayor of Vallejo

 

Ocama Ocama Ocama Pachamama

 

Please listen when we speak

We are only trying to reach

A part of your soul

Not bought and paid for

By real estate deals and bank rolls

 

Listen when we speak for ancestors who are not able

To stand in front of your tall buildings and back-room deals

But who spent years working the land you are now trying to steal

 

Listen to our pleas before its too late

And this all becomes a tragedy caused by the state

Listen to your hearts which you also have

From your ancestors now laid to rest in other parts of this same land

 

Listen, Ocama , Listen to our/your ancestors and everyones’s Mama (Mother Earth)....

 

 

In prayer until our ancestors are safe

Tiny

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