The sun’s heat was strong this Memorial Day as over 300 people came out to the West Berkeley Shellmound to honor the oldest ancestors of the Bay Area. Faith leaders from different religious and spiritual traditions led the group in prayerful reflection and spiritual practices, while calling on the City of Berkeley to halt further desecration of the oldest shellmound in the Bay Area.
18 years ago, the City of Berkeley designated the West Berkeley Shellmound a historical landmark, recognizing what indigenous people have known for time immemorial: this is a sacred site that must be protected from desecration.
The 1900 Fourth developers are attempting to illegally invoke SB 35, a new state law that circumvents public process to fast-track development. According to Lisjan Ohlone community leader Corrina Gould, SB 35 “would be an over-the-counter administrative approval without us knowing, without consultation” and would “wipe out indigenous rights, taking away our sovereignty, not allowing us to have a voice in the places we hold sacred.”
Faith leaders from many religious traditions shared reflections and prayers honoring the sacredness of this site. Prayers were offered in multiple languages reflecting the diversity of traditions and belief systems that were present. Those present laid tobacco offerings at the site and asked the ancestors to open the hearts of the leadership of the City of Berkeley, that they may be guided to do what is right.
- For more photos from the day, see this album on the Save West Berkeley Shellmound Facebook page.