A Victory of Resistance For Sogorea Te

Tiny - Posted on 28 July 2011

After 98 days and nights of a continuous prayer vigil, the
Committee to Protect Glen Cove is pleased to announce a victory in the struggle to protect the sacred grounds of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove.

Yesterday, the Yocha Dehe and Cortina tribes established a cultural easement and settlement agreement with the City of Vallejo and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD). The agreement sets a legal precedent for granting Native peoples jurisdiction over their sacred sites and ancestral lands. The cultural easement forever guarantees that the Yocha Dehe and Cortina tribes will have legal oversight in all activities taking place on the sacred burial grounds of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove. It also represents a significant step forward in enacting tribal sovereignty, as the first such easement under CA Senate Bill 18 to be negotiated at the city and recreational district levels.

The agreement’s terms include elimination of the formerly planned restroom facility and relocation of a downsized 2-space parking lot to an area thoroughly tested to confirm that it contains no human remains or cultural remnants.

While the specifics of the deal leave some ambiguity about how GVRD’s park development project can and cannot proceed, the Committee is hopeful that Yocha Dehe and Cortina will use their newfound influence to make sure that the resting place of the ancestors is not further disturbed or desecrated.

“The cultural easement is an important victory, however we are concerned about the lack of specific language that would prevent grading on the western portion of the site,” states Corrina Gould (Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone.) “We will be communicating this to the tribes and we have faith that they will take all necessary measures to ensure that ancestral remains and cremations are left undisturbed.”

Gould continued, “We appreciate and are humbled by the vast support that we have received in protecting our ancestors. It is our responsibility to continue to do the work to make certain that all of our sacred places are protected.”

The historical and cultural value of the 3,500-year old site has never been disputed and it continues to be spiritually important to California tribes. On April 14th, local Native Americans and supporters began a 24-hour prayer vigil at Sogorea Te to prevent the Greater Vallejo Recreation District from bulldozing/grading a large portion of the sacred site and constructing bathrooms and a parking lot.


Day 104: Closing ceremony set for Saturday, Yocha Dehe representative visits

Announcement: A final closing ceremony for the prayer vigil & encampment at Sogorea Te will be held on Saturday, July 30th, starting at noon. During the ceremony, long-term participants and warriors will be honored and the sacred fire that has been continuously tended for over 100 days and nights will be allowed to burn out.

Bring chairs to sit in and food to share. We’ll be asking volunteers to take trash out with them as they leave. Also, on Sunday the 31st, we will work together to pack everything up and to thoroughly clean and restore the grounds. Extra hands will be very much appreciated.

On Monday the 25th, a representative of Yocha Dehe visited Sogorea Te and walked the grounds with Protect Glen Cove Committee members, who pointed out all the specific areas of cultural concern. He brought with him a letter from Marshall McKay, the Chairman of Yocha Dehe. A personal note from McKay accompanying the letter stated that “It is with heartfelt appreciation for your dedication to the preservation of the sacred burials and sites at Glen Cove that I send this message…Please know that while I cannot attend the closing ceremony, I will be with you in spirit.”

The open letter “to our friends at Glen Cove” states, “On behalf of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, I thank you for your efforts to protect the sacred sites here at Glen Cove in the City of Vallejo. With your help, we succeeded in securing a cultural easement that will forever ensure that Native Americans govern the protection of this area so cherished by those who gave us life… you have persevered through many difficulties and your willingness to support our efforts is so greatly appreciated.”

The Yocha Dehe representatives also brought with them the news that the “reduced” parking lot still planned by GVRD is a 2 space parking lot for the handicapped. Careful testing will be done to make certain that the area where they want to place this lot contains no cultural materials or human remains.

This past weekend was packed with special occasions and visitors, including a contingent of island indigenous people from the Oceania Coalition of Northern California (OCNC) that brought gifts and blessings, a delegation from “Free Peltier, Free Em All” with Fred Hampton Jr, and a group of Native Hawaiians who stayed late in to the evening, sharing songs and stories of Hawaiian struggles. The Vallejo Intertribal Council’s annual Pow-Wow was held in downtown Vallejo over the weekend, and on Sunday, warriors and supporters from Sogorea Te came out in strong numbers to sing the AIM honoring song and Sogorea Te song.


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