Reflections from an Indigenous Youth Skolar on the Resistance at Sogorea Te


Tiny - Posted on 04 August 2011

Author: 
Philip Standing Bear/Indigenous Peoples Media Correspondent

 

As this is my first assignment for Indigenous Peoples Media Project on PNN, I feel extremely honored to capture the heartfelt resistance that is … Sogorea Te. I was blessed to be invited to the closing ceremonies, as an easement has been made between the City of Vallejo and officials of GVRD and the Yochina Dine and Cortina Tribes.

 

         First I would like to introduce myself. My name is Phillip Standing Bear and I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. I would like to say that I feel like it is my duty to protect what is sacred to, not just my peoples, but to all indigenous peoples. I say that with the up-most humility and humbleness in my heart and mind.

         Now let’s get into a little bit of the 3500 years of documented history of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove. Glen Cove was a large village and ceremonial grounds that was used by many different tribes throughout the Bay Area. This area has been deemed, declared and even federally recognized as sacred to indigenous peoples. Many natives alive today have ties to ancestors buried there.

         As I was taking pictures of Sogorea Te, I was on the west hill over looking most of the cove. A lady behind me in one of the expensive homes overlooking the Carquienez Strait, said to me “Excuse me, do you know that this is private land and that you are trespassing?” I turned to look at her to see if she knew what she was really talking about, it was an old white lady. Maybe in her 60’s or early 70’s. I looked away, not wanting a confrontation here of all places to have confrontations, and then she asked “Excuse me, can you speak English?” I looked back at her and told her “ I can speak perfect English, and your backyard is private land, I am not in your backyard.” She tried telling me to tell that to the police when they get here. I then told her that they probably won’t even bother coming, because they have to follow the law like you and I have to.

         But Sogorea Te is so much more than an area of land being occupied by indigenous peoples, rather than that of a sacred place where the peoples within, felt so lost during the colonization period of the Bay Area, that they knew that they had no more sacred spaces to perform ceremonies and traditions with their ancestors who are buried there. During the mission-ization of the indigenous peoples of the area, the native “christians” were sent to the Mission area of San Francisco. There they lived their Christian lives, as to where they were “permitted” to visit their homeland twice a year.

 

            Account from Mission San Francisco:

 

    Twice in the year they receive permission to return to their native homes. This short time is the happiest period of their existence; and I myself have seen them going home in crowds, with loud rejoicings. The sick, who cannot undertake the journey, at least accompany their happy countrymen to the shore where they embark, and there sit for days together, mournfully gazing on the distant summits of the mountains which surround their homes; they often sit in this situation for several days, without taking any food, so much does the sight of their lost home affect these new Christians (Kotzebue [1816] 1932:63). [p. 219]

 

            This happens everywhere in the United States of America. Corporations and organizations everywhere ignore the fact that these lands are under federal protection. According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Part II, Article 10; The Right to Traditional Space, States “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return. This Article alone proves that GVRD and the City of Vallejo are ignoring federal law by trying to incorporate the land with their Re- devil-opment plan to add a park with porta-potties on top of a sacred burial site.

         I was honored to be introduced to some of the main warriors of this fight. Those included are Corrina Gould, Mark Anquoe, and a many of other fighters of this land.

 

         As Tiny, Muteado, and I pulled up onto Shoal Dr and parked there, we had already noticed how full the area was of people headed to Sogorea Te. As we gathered the equipment out of the back of the snazzy, Cherry Red, 4-Door, 2011 Ford something rental, I could already feel heads turning, looking at the cardboard sign saying “Poor Magazine”. The three of us laughed about it later.

         There was actually a lot more to Sogorea Te than I imagined, since it was my first time there. It was exhilarating just walking towards the grounds, almost like there were more people there than I saw with my eyes.

There were many other things that I noticed throughout the ceremonies, I noticed that almost after every song or dance that was performed, an eagle brother called out. He spoke, loud and clear “CAW”, like he was cheering or acknowledging the performers.

         All in all, the ceremonies were held in good hearts and souls throughout the community, other than the “Rude one”, as I like to call her now. I had the honor of interviewing some Hawaiian sisters that came out to give their blessings, as well as having an interview with Wounded Knee, you can check both interviews out on our website at http://www.poormagazine.org/indigenous_media

         When we left, I, at least felt better and more informed about the lifestyles and mindsets of the rich and how it affects the poor. I hope that the public will support Poor Magazine, as well as keep up with me in many more future stories to come. 

 

To the braves and feminine braves in the fight for Sogorea Te, I hope to meet and correspond with you in the future for fights over more lands that are being stolen by the industrial complex.

you are trespassing?” I turned to look at her to see if she knew what she was really talking about, it was an old white lady. Maybe in her 60’s or early 70’s. I looked away, not wanting a confrontation here of all places to have confrontations, and then she asked “Excuse me, can you speak English?” I looked back at her and told her “ I can speak perfect English, and your backyard is private land, I am not in your backyard.”

Congratulations, Phillip Standing Bear, on your historic verbal victory over the "industrial complex," in the person of a 60 or 70-something white woman. I'm sure all your fellow "braves and feminine braves" (bravettes?) will remember this as a crucial part of the great indigenous triumph over porta potties in Vallejo.

Well, I guess these days, you guys need to claim your victories where you can....

if you need to channel your hate go do it somewhere else OR post your name and we can settle this out like men. Either which way, just by you posting something rude, goes to show how ignorant, self-conscious, and how much of a hater you really are.

You mean post my name like you did yours? Gosh, I had no idea there were so many of us named "anonymous!" LOL
Sorry, but you have a monopoly on pathetic, and I wouldn't want to interfere!

If you take time to think, it will become obvious that Mr. Standing Bear himself responded to your comment... and could not, therefore be said to be hiding behind his computer screen.
I also think he simply asks you to limit your criticism to relevant points, and perhaps, consider doing so with respect.
I hope such insight is not lost on you.
GWC

...from the fact that the article and the comments were equally insipid. My bad. But I don't remember saying that anyone was hiding behind a computer screen. Could that have been you?

Thank you for taking the time to read the stories here.

Your insight is often full of hatred and a violent tone, which is sad, but clearly you care a lot about people, and human dignity.

The first shall be last and the last shall be first

GWC

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