The West Berkeley Shellmound sacred site is more at risk than ever now that the property owner, a commercial real estate developer, holds an SB-35 permit and has taken additional steps towards development on the property.
While the Shellmound hasn’t been making headlines over the past year since the California Supreme Court denied our appeal, forcing Berkeley to issue a development permit, work has continued steadily to advocate for the sacred Ohlone heritage site.
Small Ohlone ceremonies and semi-public gatherings have been regularly held at the Shellmound, and a constant stream of messages of support, prayer ribbons and other offerings from community members have been affixed to the chain link fence surrounding the land. Conversations between local organizations, community leaders and elected officials are ongoing, regarding the fate of the Shellmound and what can be done.
While there are various paths forward to achieving protection of the land, continued support from Berkeley City Councilmembers is critical at this moment. If you live in Berkeley, or elsewhere in the Bay Area, we ask that you please consider writing an email to, or otherwise reaching out to Berkeley Councilmembers (especially the representative of your district, if you live in Berkeley).
In your own words, let the City Councilmembers know how important it is that they continue to do whatever they can to ensure that the West Berkeley Shellmound is honored and not desecrated by a housing and retail development project. You could thank them for the City’s efforts to date, ask them for an update, and offer your unique viewpoint. Let them know you’re still following this issue closely and with great concern.
There is a very real and significant need for affordable housing to be built in Berkeley and throughout the Bay Area. It must be understood that supporters of preserving Ohlone sacred sites — such as Ohlone leadership and the Save the West Berkeley Shellmound Coalition — fully support the creation of affordable housing. However, housing absolutely does not need to come at the expense of the oldest landmarked Indigenous cultural site in the entire Bay Area. There is no justice in causing irreparable harm to the Ohlone community in the name of addressing hardships faced by other lower-income residents. Our communities can work together to create a multitude of better solutions.
Berkeley City Council contact information
Please get in touch with the Mayor and all members of the City Council by email. If you are a Berkeley resident, it’s best to address your email to the councilmember who represents your district and CC the list of all councilmembers, provided below. If you are not a Berkeley resident, you may simply address your message to the entire list:
Note: CC’ing or BCC’ing firstname.lastname@example.org allows our Save the West Berkeley Shellmound volunteers to also see and record your message. Thanks!
Individual contact information for the Mayor and Councilmembers are as follows. If you live in the City of Berkeley, you can identify your council district with this tool or with the map below.
Recent media coverage
- Sacred Land Film Project 6/15/22: Berkeley is Ohlone Territory
- National Trust for Historic Preservation 3/16/22: People Saving Places: Corrina Gould and the Protection of the West Berkeley Shellmound
Download and print your own Shellmound posters!
Landscape designer and West Berkeley Shellmound advocate Chris Walker created these beautiful black and white 11×17 posters. Print your own on 11×17 cardstock for yourself, to share with friends or to post in public places. Download print-ready PDF here
“When I show this poster to people, I like to share some things I’ve learned about the history of the Lisjan Ohlone and the West Berkeley Shellmound,” designer Chris Walker says. “For example, my understanding is that a typical funerary ceremony lasted 4 days, with the deceased spirit stopping off at Alcatraz Island before heading out through the Golden Gate. Ohlone people lived here for over 5,000 years in peace and prosperity. I believe the people of Berkeley should be proud of this heritage, embracing and protecting it.”