While a million people participate in the Occupy movement, let’s take a moment to check out some of the current struggles of the people who’s land we all currently Occupy.
End Columbus Day – Each year the recognition of Columbus Day (Oct.11) places Indigenous Peoples in a painfully uncomfortable position. The fact that Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America seems to fall on deaf ears. The fact that his landing on our soil did usher in over 500 years of greed, death, and degradation of unprecedented magnitude also eludes otherwise attentive ears. We ask that on this Columbus Day, a reflection of historical facts be observed. By the time European colonizers arrived, Indigenous people had already been on this continent for more than 20,000 years. We were farmers, scientists, astronomers, artists, mathematicians, singers, architects, physicians, teachers, mothers, fathers, and Elders living in sophisticated societies. These societies lacked nothing and had everything to give in the way of wisdom and knowledge. We object to a false and hurtful holiday that perpetuates a vision of a land open to conquest of its Native inhabitants, their highly evolved societies, and natural resources. -By Suzanne Benally (Navajo & Santa Clara Tewa) (from http://culturalsurvival.org)
Natives Remember Alcatraz on Thanksgiving – Every year since 1975, American Indians have journeyed from the mainland to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on Thanksgiving Day. They have called the day “Un-Thanksgiving Day” and now “The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony.” From November 1969 to July 1971, a group of American Indians took over and occupied Alcatraz Island led by Mohawk, Richard Oakes;. The group was called the Alcatraz Red Power Movement and was also known as the “Indians of All Tribes.” Throughout the occupation, numerous American Indians went to Alcatraz Island to participate in the occupation. Among them, several members of the American Indian Movement, including Dennis Banks went there. While the American Indians who occupied Alcatraz Island eventually left, four years later American Indians return every Thanksgiving Day to remember. -By Levi Rickert (from http://nativenewsnetwork.com )
An Update for Supporters & Friends of Sogorea Te (Glen Cove) – Dear Warriors, Supporters and Friends of Sogorea Te, I want to begin by thanking each one of you for your support in protecting and preserving Sogorea Te (Glen Cove), a sacred site that has been in what is now Vallejo, CA for over 3500 years. During our occupation of the land from April through July of last year, many of you were instrumental in putting aside your lives, giving of yourselves unselfishly, and participating in creating a living community. Over the last few months, people have posted alarming pictures on Facebook and have written things about the desecration of
Sogorea Te, stirring up great concern amongst those who hold this sacred land close to our hearts. We, the Committee to Protect Sogorea Te, have tried to look into each issue as it has arisen and want to be transparent with all of the people who involved their time and lives in protecting the land. We celebrated a victory in July, and yet, looking at the land now makes this victory taste bitter in my mouth. Out of all that GVRD wanted to do with the land, we only asked for three things: that they not build bathrooms, not include a 15-car parking lot, and not grade a hill that contains] burials/cremations. These are for the most part what we won. They are not going to build a bathroom, the parking lot is only two handicap parking places and will be located adjacent to the sidewalk. We were aware that GVRD planned to take out the invasive species of plants and tear down the mansion and, yes, even put in trails. However, when I went there several weeks ago, what I saw was that the entire site had been molested. The creek is virtually exposed, all of the trees have been cut down, and, to our dismay, the grading has occurred. In December, we were able to visit Sogorea Te and walk the site with tribal monitors and other tribal representatives. It was frustrating that the tribal representatives didn’t have any answers. When was the project going to be finished? “I don’t know.” Why did they take out native plants and still leave some of the invasive? “I don’t know.” Will the tribe make a statement or have a public meeting to let people that supported the tribe in obtaining a cultural easement know what is happening to the land? “No. We don’t have to answer to anyone.” A tribal sovereign government is still a government. It is also a fact that this same tribal government allowed for the desecration of Sogorea Te in decades past and continues to make concessions to other developers, allowing desecration of other burial and sacred sites. Together we must decide what needs to be done to stop the on-going desecration of all of our sacred places. -By Corrina Gould, Chochenyo/Karkin Ohlone (http://protectglencove.org)
KB Home Won’t Build on Native Burial Grounds – (9/192011) The national home builder reached a compromise with Native American elders in Santa Cruz Monday that left everyone happy. A month of protests ended joyfully Monday morning when KB Home told Ohlone Indian elders that the company would not build on the Native American burial grounds. “Today was truly an amazing day,” said Ann Marie Sayers, who has been on the site monitoring for remains as the home builder progressed with 32 homes in the Branciforte Creek neighborhood at Market Street and Isbel Drive. Sayers said the company would still build homes, but will fence off the area called The Knoll, where 6,000-year-old remains were found on August 2. The area will be reserved for Ohlone Indians to visit and perform ceremonies. “ -By Brad Kava (http://santacruz.patch.com) (more info at http://savetheknoll.org)
California Indigenous Support San Francisco Peaks – (1/9/2012) California tribal members will rally today in support of plaintiffs in the latest court battle to prevent the further desecration of the San Francisco Peaks, a mountain in Northern Arizona that is held sacred by over 13 Indigenous Nations. Native Americans consider clear-cutting of rare alpine forest by the U.S. Forest Service for the expansion of a for-profit ski business on the sacred San Francisco Peaks and the use of sewage water for the planned snow production to be an offensive desecration of their holy grounds. For decades numerous strategies, including long-standing campaigns, boycotts, prayer gatherings, direct actions, and litigation, have been employed by many citizens, tribes, and organizations who have strived to protect the mountain. The Hopi tribe and Navajo Nation governments have also passed resolutions and pursued their own litigation to prevent the desecration of the sacred San Francisco Peaks. (http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com, more info at http://savethepeaks.org)
Natives Asked to Boycott Nady Electronics – (9/15/2011) As the result of last week’s decision by the Lake County Board of Supervisors Planning Commission 3-2 vote to allow John Nady to develop his property that is historically sacred to the Elem Pomo tribe, local indigenous groups in California are asking American Indians nationwide to boycott products sold by Nady Electronics. Evidence presented during the hearing clarified that Nady’s archaeologist had not ‘consulted’ with the Elem Pomo tribe, as was previously claimed. According to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements, consultation must take place if there is a possibility of the presence of human remains. “Supervisor Comstock, the Lake County Board Supervisor who cast the deciding vote, commented, ” My family’s been living in Lake County for 150 years, you can’t get more native than that.” Nady’s development endeavor directly upon the village site and ceremonial grounds of the Elem Pomo, also known as Rattlesnake Island, documented to be between 6-14,000 years, is not his first effort to desecrate sacred grounds. Nady’s company headquarters are located atop the Emeryville Shell mound, the largest Ohlone Shell mound in the bay area. In 2000, local bay area Native community members and allies attempted to block Nady’s development of the Emeryville Shell mound site, documented to be over 3,500 years old. Despite major community opposition at Emeryville City Council meetings, Nady was successful in his attempts to coerce council members to vote in his favor. (http://nativenewsnetwork.com, more info at http://elemmodun.org)