Hundreds Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site in Brazilian Amazon

October 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm (Indigenous, Land Occupations) (, , )

An estimated 600 Indigenous people, fishermen, and others from the Xingu River basin have gathered to occupy the construction site of the Belo Monte Dam project in the state of Pará, Brazil.

Photo by Ivan Canabrava / Illuminati Filmes

The protest arrives one day after the second judge from the Regional Federal Tribunal voted against judge Selene Maria de Almeida’s landmark decision against the Belo Monte dam.

Judge Selene Maria de Almeida’s decision (which is not to be confused with last month’s decision by judge Carlos Castro Martins to suspend the construction of the dam) found that the government illegally issued the project’s environmental licenses because it failed to properly consult affected Indigenous peoples beforehand. That failure, according to judge Selene Maria de Almeida, is a direct violation of Article 231 of Brazil’s Constitution.

“The trial is now tied at one vote in favor, and one vote against,” says International Rivers. “The third and final judge must now give her decision on whether she agrees with the lawsuit that claims that tribes were not properly consulted. The trial has been delayed once more, and will reconvene for the final vote. Either way the final vote falls, both sides are ready to appeal the tribunal’s decisions to the Supreme Court.”

The protesters, on the other hand, have vowed to continue their protest until the Belo Monte dam project is brought to a decisive end.

Help support the peaceful protest: http://www.causes.com/campaigns/158177

Below: a report on the protest from Amazon Watch; and a declaration from the Xingu Alliance.

Hundreds Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site in Brazilian Amazon

Altamira, Brazil – Hundreds of indigenous leaders, fishermen and riverine people from the Xingu River basin have gathered to occupy the Belo Monte Dam construction site in a peaceful protest to stop its construction in Altamira, located in the state of Pará in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. They have vowed to permanently occupy the site and are calling on allied organizations and movements to join them.

The Trans-Amazon Highway (BR-230) has been blocked around the Santo Antônio village, where it passes the proposed construction site. Groups are demanding the presence of a Brazilian government high-level official at the site to initiate a new round of negotiations that are transparent, inclusive and respectful of the rights of local people affected by the dam.

“Belo Monte will only succeed if we do nothing about it. We will not be silent. We will shout out loud and we will do it now,” said Juma Xipaia, a local indigenous leader. “We only demand what our Constitution already ensures us: our rights. Our ancestors fought so we could be here now. Many documents and meetings have already transpired and nothing has changed. The machinery continues to arrive to destroy our region.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) has requested explanation as to why the Brazilian Government did not act to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples affected by the dam, as requested by the IAHCR in April. According to the OAS, the Brazilian Government has an obligation of consulting and informing indigenous peoples who will be affected by the dam prior to construction.

Yesterday, the government of Brazil refused to attend a closed hearing convened by the IAHCR intended to foster dialogue toward resolving conflict and discuss failures in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples threatened by the proposed Belo Monte Dam. Plans for the project ignore international protections such as the right to free, prior and informed consent, and jeopardize the health, livelihood and ancestral lands of thousands of indigenous peoples.

Last Monday, a federal judge in Brazil voted that the environmental licensing of the controversial Belo Monte Dam is illegal given the lack of consultations with affected indigenous communities.

For more information, contact:
Caroline Bennett, + 1 415 487 9600, caroline@amazonwatch.org
Christian Poirier (in Brazil), + 55 116597 8359, christian@amazonwatch.org

Sheyla Juruna, indigenous leader from Brazil, available for interviews in Washington, D.C.
(Hi-res photos available upon request)

Declaration of the Xingu Alliance against the Belo Monte Dam

“We will not allow the government to establish this dam or other projects affecting the lands, lives and survival of current and future generations of the Xingu Basin”

We, the 700 participants of the seminar “Territories, Environment, and Development in the Amazon: the Fight Against Large Dams in the Xingu Basin;” we, the warriors of the Araweté, Assurini do Pará, Assurini do Tocantins, Kayapó, Kraô, Apinajés, Gavião, Munduruku, Guajajara do Pará, Guajajara do Maranhão, Arara, Xipaya, Xicrin, Juruna, Guarani, Tupinambá, Tembé, Ka’apor, Tupinambá, Tapajós, Arapyun, Maytapeí, Cumaruara, Awa-Guajá and Karajas tribes, representing indigenous peoples threatened by Belo Monte and other hydroelectric dams in the Amazon; we, the fishermen, farmers, and residents of coastal cities, impacted by Belo Monte; we, the students, trade unionists, social leaders and supporters of the struggles of peoples against Belo Monte; we together affirm that we will not allow the government to build this dam or other projects affecting the lands, lives and survival of current and future generations of the Xingu Basin.

During the 25th and 26th October 2011, we met in Altamira to reaffirm our alliance and determination to resist together the project to dam and kill the Xingu River, no matter what weapons nor moral, economic or physical threats are used against us.

During the past decade, the government has returned to developing one of the most nefarious infrastructure projects created by the military dictatorship in the Amazon. During this time, we, who are all Brazilian citizens, were not considered, were not heard, nor were we consulted on the construction of Belo Monte. This is a right protected for us by the Constitution and laws of our country, and by international treaties that protect Brazil’s traditional inhabitants, of which our country is a signatory.

Forced out of their land, expelled from the banks of the river by construction machines and suffocated by the dust they raise, the people of the Xingu have been brutalized by the consortium authorized by the government to clear our forests, cocoa plantations, gardens, orchards, gardens and houses on the Xingu River, destroying the river’s fauna, usurping our properties in the city and the countryside, raising the cost of living, exploiting workers, and terrorizing our families with the threat of a dark future of misery, violence, drugs and prostitution. And thus the government repeats the errors, the lack of respect, and the violence caused by so many other dams forcibly imposed upon the Amazon and its peoples.

Armed with only our dignity and our rights, and strengthened by our alliance, we here declare that we have formalized a pact to fight against Belo Monte, which makes us stronger than the humiliation imposed on us so far. We have signed a pact that will keep us together until this project is wiped from the map and the history of the Xingu, a river to whom we have a debt of honor, of life, and, if the survival of the Xingu requires it, of bloodshed.

Faced with the government’s intransigence in dialogue with us, and with their insistence on disrespecting us, from now on we occupy the construction site of Belo Monte and close access to it from the Trans-Amazon highway. We demand that the government send a representative here to sign a waiver to definitively paralyze all works, and to desist from building the Belo Monte Dam.

Altamira, Pará, Brazil, October 27, 2011

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Mapuche Community Peacefully Occupies Traditional Lands and Plans to Stay Indefinitely

October 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm (Indigenous, Land Occupations) (, )

From IndigenousNews.org:

On the morning of Thursday, October 20th, approximately 30 families from the Mapuche-Huilliche community of Huichan Mapu walked onto a 250 hectare (approximately 615 acre) parcel of land in Frutillar, Chile and began a peaceful occupation of the land. The community was removed from the land in 1991 and has been trying, unsuccessfully, to use the processes of the state to gain its return. According to their spokesperson, the families are prepared to stay on the land indefinitely until the land is returned to the community.

Prior to 1991, the Hulliche community members lived on and farmed the land that they now peacefully occupy.  But in 1991, according to the lonko (leader) Florinda Martínez Gáez, the land was taken from the community when other individuals “misrepresented” the land’s status. At that point in time, men, women and children were removed from the land. Since then, the community has sought the return of their lands by going to authorities at the regional, provincial and national levels. With those efforts leading nowhere, the decision was made to take peaceful action to recover their traditional lands.

The community’s spokesperson, José Hernández, added that the families have no intention of leaving the land until it is returned to their people. Hernández also indicated that the community has documents proving that they were rightfully on the land 40 years ago, although CONADI seems to indicate that no records from that far back currently exist.

The community’s efforts have resulted in a meeting to take place on Friday, October 21st, which will involve community members, the Governor and a representative from CONADI (the Chilean government’s Indigenous development corporation). Assuming that the issue won’t be resolved with one meeting, the people of Huichan Mapu have called upon other Mapuche leaders and communities to support their efforts.

The occupation has, thus far, occurred without incident, although police officers were sent in to the entrance of the land to ensure that order is maintained.

See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

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Argentina to Wall Street: Latin American Social Movements and the Occupation of Everything

October 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Indigenous, Land Occupations, Peoples' Assemblies, Squatting, Student Occupations, Workplace Occupations) (, , )

Assembly at Occupy Wall St. Photo: Flickr/MatMcDermott

By Benjamin Dang, Toward Freedom

Massive buildings tower over Wall Street, making the sidewalks feel like valleys in an urban mountain range. The incense, drum beats and chants of Occupy Wall Street echo down New York City’s financial district from Liberty Plaza, where thousands of activists have converged to protest economic injustice and fight for a better world.

As unemployment and poverty in the US reaches record levels, the protest is catching on, with hundreds of parallel occupations sprouting up across the country. It was a similar disparity in economic and political power that led people to the streets in the Arab Spring, and in Wisconsin, Greece, Spain and London. Occupy Wall Street is part of this global revolt. This new movement in the US also shares much in common with uprisings in another part of the world: Latin America.

This report from Liberty Plaza connects tactics and philosophies surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement with similar movements in Latin America, from the popular assemblies and occupation of factories during Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001-2002, to grassroots struggles for land in Brazil.

Latin America: Economic Crisis and Grassroots Responses

Almost overnight in late 2001, Argentina went from having one of the strongest economies in South America to one of the weakest. During this economic crash, the financial system collapsed like a house of cards and banks shut their doors. Faced with such immediate economic strife and unemployment, many Argentines banded together to create a new society out of the wreckage of the old. Poverty, homelessness, and unemployment were countered with barter systems, factory occupations, communally-run kitchens, and alternative currency. Neighborhood assemblies provided solidarity, support and vital spaces for discussion in communities across the country. Ongoing protests kicked out five presidents in two weeks, and the movements that emerged from this period transformed the social and political fabric of Argentina.

These activities reflect those taking place at Occupy Wall Street and in other actions around the US right now. Such events in Argentina and the US are marked by dissatisfaction with the political and economic system in the face of crisis, and involve people working together for solutions on a grassroots level. For many people in Argentina and the US, desperation pushed them toward taking matters into their own hands.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Homes Not Jails stages open occupation in San Francisco’s Mission District

October 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Building Occupations, Housing Occupations, Indigenous, Squatting) ()

As of 11pm, October 12th Homes Not Jails is now holding an open housing occuption at 20th and Mission.

www.HomesNotJailsSF.org

and 1.877.50.SQUAT (1.877.507.7828)

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Updates from Occupied America

October 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm (Indigenous, Peoples' Assemblies) (, )

Occupy Wall Street Protests Head Into Third Week, Spread to More Cities:

Infoshop News (October 1, 2011) — The Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City continue to grow after two weeks. They’ve braved bad weather and police brutality. A march this afternoon took thousands of protesters to the Brooklyn Bridge. Reports are coming in that the police are arresting people.

The Occupy movement has spread to other cities, including Chicago, Miami, Kansas City and Denver. The protests are now getting widespread media coverage.

Breaking News

  • New York: Protest enters third week
  • New York: Around 700 arrested this weekend.

More news

*As Wall Street protest enters 3rd week, movement gains steam nationwide
*Getting A Boost From Unions And Online Tools, Occupy Wall Street Protests Go Global
*Occupy Seattle protests against corporate America
*Inside Occupy Wall Street: A Tour of Activist Encampment at the Heart of Growing Protest
*Wall St. protesters shut down Brooklyn Bridge
*Wall Street Protest Starting to Look Like Egypt
*Wall Street protests spread to other cities
*Economic protesters gather at Los Angeles City Hall
*Occupy Wall Street protests grow amid Radiohead rumour
*NYC: Wall Street protesters march on police
*‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests Spread Across the Country

Local Occupy Events

»(Previous Infoshop News Coverage

IWW Endorses Occupy Wall Street:

On behalf of our union, the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World sends our support and solidarity to the occupation of Wall Street, those determined to hold accountable our oppressors.

This occupation on Wall Street calls into question the very foundation in which the capitalist system is based, and its relentless desire to place profit over and above all else.

When 1% of the ruling class holds the wealth created by the other 99%, it is clear that the watchwords found in our union’s preamble, “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common”, ring true more than ever.?The IWW does not follow a business union model. We believe that the working class and the employing class have nothing in common and we don’t foster illusions to the contrary.

Throughout the world, from Egypt to Greece, from China to Madison, Wisconsin, working class people are starting to rise up. The IWW welcomes this. We see the occupation of Wall Street as another step – no matter how large or small – in this process.

Occupy Wall Street: Volunteers of America

The Occupy Wall Street happening has managed to make me feel both old and young at the same time.  Old, perhaps, because I am, and because I am not out there sleeping in the streets, staying up half the night, having fun, discussing politics and philosophy, drinking wine, and doing who knows what else.  Old, because I have grown cynical while these “kids” are still full of hope and power and passion and all that being young is.  It makes me feel young because despite it all I relate so well to it, the birth of something new without the machinations  of the old old and old new lefts.

Read more…

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On Sacred Ground: Native Occupation of Glen Cove Enters 13th Week

July 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm (Indigenous, Land Occupations, Sacred Sites) ()

A view of Glen Cove, part of Vallejo, Calif., which is north of San Francisco Bay. (Photo by R.M. Arrieta)

Native Occupation of Calif. Cove Enters 13th Week
By R. M. Arrieta, In These Times
Thursday, Jul 14, 2011, 10:32 am

Labor comes in many different forms. The kind of labor required to defend one’s land is uniquely voluntary— and now on display in Vallejo, Calif., where a group of native people and their supporters have been occupying land at Glen Cove for 92 days to stop development in an area that once contained ancient shellmound burial sites.

On April 14 the group—members of the Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation and Cortina Band of Wintun Indians—began occupying the 15-acre area north of Oakland where the City of Vallejo and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GRVD) want to build bathrooms, a hiking trail and a parking lot on land known to contain shellmound burial grounds and Native American villages dating back to 1,000 A.D.

Native people, who are seeking permanent legal rights from the city to protect the land, refer to the area as “Segorea Te,” its traditional name in the language of Karkin Ohlone. Hundred of visitors, including nearby residents, have come to Glen Cove offering gifts, food, help with keeping the grounds tended, and prayers to the sacred fire that has burned continuously since the occupation began in April.

This pristine area sits on a cove where cool waters wash over rocks and into the Carquinez Bay. Willows, alder trees and tule shade the land near a fresh water creek. Fishermen ply the shore. The quietness belies the fight waging between indigenous people and GVRD and the City of Vallejo.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Communication from Glen Cove Occupation

June 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm (Indigenous, Land Occupations, Sacred Sites) ()

ProtectSacredSites.org

In Northern California once the rivers and even the streams in many parts – saw the passing thru and fro of the almighty – SALMON. As we frail humans began to understand the journey of the SALMON – we, the indigenous people – showered a deep respect on this annual ritual. The fight, up hill – to the spawning rounds, the release of life – and finally the glorious death. All nature participated in this historic episode year after year – for thousands of years. Even, the redwood trees, in all its majestic power and glory – wallowed in the smell and nutrition of the SALMON. The stranger, the creator of the concrete jungle, messed the balance and left the indigenous people, and all of nature that once was pristine – adversely impacted and polluted. Desecrated the SACRED LAND and continues to do so – even today. Aho.


I have been to Glen Cove many times – and I have heard from the Elders about the many trials and tribulations of the many California Tribes that revered this Cove. The salmon have for thousands of years – visited this Cove – and then made their journey up stream to visit again, spawn, initiate life and die.

The ritual of the salmon, the abundance it brings, has been tied to so many cultural factors and has been the DNA of the indigenous tribes all over Northern California and Northern American – but also far way New Zealand – the land of the Maori.

The Elders and the Shamans once knew what would befall them and took precaution. The timing was prefect but the time has come to reveal the truth – and the truth is not pretty – not so to those that are mundane and continue to disrespect Mother Earth.

The Elders of the many tribes – have spoken to me – and because they have confided in me – I have done what is possible to expose their wisdom to those that do not – comprehend.

Years ago with great difficulty – we brought the leaders, the elders, so that they may address the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). The authority that uses the Hetch Hetchy water and responsible for the Hetch Hetchy damn – the other rivers and streams where it pumps water from – and from time to time – releases water.

The SFPUC and the authorities behind the Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) has continued to disrespect the First People. If they think they have not – I will explain to them in my speech very soon.

Even, as the visit of the Salmon to Glen Cove and its yearly ritual is welcomed and understood by the indigenous people and other children, women and men of good faith – not so by the greedy, materialistic, evil – stranger whose main goal is hoarding and making money. Taking the resources that Mother Earth gives and use it without judgement and often indiscriminately.

The stranger was responsible for the cutting of the redwoods and there is a relation between the Salmon and the redwood.

The stranger has for years – fished for salmon – without any care, no discernment of what is good – taken so much and adversely impacted an entire region.

The stranger has damed the rivers – taken upon himself to destroy, without even knowing the consequences too deep, too salient, too spiritual for him with his evil ways to comprehend.

The list of what the stranger has done is long – and to fill this page with his misdeeds – is not the purpose of this message.

Yesterday, for the first time in hundreds of years – a ritual was conducted to welcome the Salmon.

Much like some years ago – from a far away Nation the Maori invited the California tribes and revealed to them that they could come and visit the salmon – that the Great Spirit had arranged for a far away Nation – to preserve and keep the Salmon in trust.

Glen Cove in Vallejo is Sacred Land – visited and respected by many California Tribes – that Sacred Land has the blessing and is connected to those that must be respected.

Now, the stranger wants to build some restrooms and a parking lot. If he dares to that – the misery of his bankruptcy and related woes today – will be multiplied a million times. Those that do not pay heed to this warning – can dare the impossible and suffer the consequences.

I was a witness to the ceremony – but, what I saw with my eyes – was the past as the ceremony too place.

A revelation that was meant to be so that I could reveal to the world – what indeed in the power of the ritual, the meaning of respect, the keeping of a bond – not written in any language – less that of the stranger the originator of most that is “evil” on this earth.

It has been over two months, now – the Fist People have camped and are protesting that no entity should be permitted to build a parking lot and some restroom – on a Sacred Burial Ground at Glen Cove.

No one has Patrimonial Jurisdiction on that land – except, those First People; those indigenous people that have revered the Sacred Site for thousands of years.

The Native American Graves Protection and Rehabilitation Act (NAGPRA) , the Precautionary Principle, and other mundane laws of the Stranger are in place and can easily be applied.

However, in this case – if anyone dares desecrate the land – now that they have been told and warned – the consequences will be severe.
” No home, no building, will withstand the quake and much like Joplin – nothing much will be left – but death and destruction” – I have spoken.

Every great care was taken to perform the ceremony in keeping with what has been passed from generation to generation by those Indigenous Tribes that understand the Salmon – the Pitt Indian River Tribes.

My role was to be a witness and connect the dots. To see with my eyes the present, the past and reveal certain aspects of the future.

In the year 2011 is it completely wrong to think of desecrating a Sacred Burial Ground.

The Vallejo Council and the Vallejo Recreation and Park Authorities know that what they are doing is wrong.

I told them that at one of their meetings – four years ago. They have an Environmental Impact Report and a General Management Plan that is full of loop holes.

There is no sound leadership in this fake plan – and what is more – given the dire economic straits of the City of Vallejo that is bankrupt – no one should waste money and more try to confront the First People, the California Tribes, and those that respect Sacred Burial Grounds.

The stranger thinks he has his laws – but for thousands of years the Patrimonial Laws of the First People have withstood what cannot be understood by those that are not spiritual.

Leave the Sacred Ground alone – and if you do not – suffer the consequences.

Here are some photographs – look at them and respect the seeings.

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A Call for Anarchist Solidarity with the Indigenous Occupation of Glen Cove

April 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm (Indigenous, Land Occupations, Sacred Sites) (, )

For over two weeks, indigenous peoples and supporters have occupied Glen Cove, a “sacred gathering place and burial ground that has been utilized by numerous Native American tribes since at least 1,500 BC,” located on the outskirts of Vallejo, California in the Bay Area. The occupation of Glen Cove comes after years of attempts to halt the desecration of the area by the local recreation district (GVRD), which wants to develop it in to a public park. GVRD wants to construct a parking lot and bathrooms, pave new paths, cut down trees, and bulldoze/re-grade a large part of the area that likely contains human remains. Glen Cove is sacred to many Native Peoples as a burial and ceremonial ground. According to the support site, protectglencove.org:

“Archaeologists working for the University of California first surveyed the Glen Cove site in 1907. Since that time, hundreds of intact skeletal remains and cremations have been documented, along with thousands of sacred objects, tools, and other artifacts. Many sacred items and skeletons unearthed at Glen Cove have been stolen by archaeologists and are housed in the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.” Many of the homes and structures that have been built in the local area literally sit on top of grave sites and indigenous warriors defending the land have made it clear that the proposed development of the land equals nothing less than the further destruction and colonization of Native people.

On one side of this struggle sit the upper class: comprised of the developers, the government, and their police. For them, Glen Cove is simply a piece of land that is waiting to be developed and “improved”. The developers are keen to frame their planned desecration in the best light possible, while not actually listening to or respecting the requests of local Native people. As Miwok Elder Wounded Knee states, “Because they want to seem politically correct, the developers are becoming familiar with the language so it sounds good for them to say ‘protecting and preserving,’ but it’s all a show. ”

On the other side is the resistance; those who have occupied the land and dedicated themselves to protecting it. They’ve erected communal kitchens, information tables, and a sacred fire and meeting space. These brave occupiers daily face down police and city workers. What they want is not to take control over the land and it’s management. They do not want to develop the land in a different way. Instead, their battle cry is that nothing be done to the land at all – that the land stay as it is naturally, that their ancestors’ resting place is respected.

As anarchists who desire a revolution against all forces of domination; who fight for the destruction of the systems of violence and coercion which maintain class society, we find solidarity with the occupation of Glen Cove. We find strength in the communal and militant resistance happening in Vallejo; in the spirit of those who risk their freedom in order to protect their ancestors and the living earth for future generations. We find comrades in those that negate this civilization and insist that a radically different relationship with the land must be forged for all. In a time of ecological and economic crisis, struggles like this are vital – they show that resistance is possible as are new human relationships and ways of life.

Lastly, we are humbled by so many Native people who despite literally 500 years of genocide, enslavement, and poverty, continue to fight back against a system that resigns them to reservations, disease, addiction, and the almost complete annihilation of their history and culture. It is these people who throughout the generations have fought back and given their lives to the struggle for the land and freedom. Whether with arrows, rifles, prayer or occupations, they have fought and now that battle has come to Vallejo.

We ask that anarchists throughout California and the US come to the occupation of Glen Cove in Vallejo. Bring food and tactical supplies – check the support site for specific needed items. Be aware that cultural norms/expectations may be unfamiliar to you — come prepared to listen and take direction from people, or don’t come at all. Information on how to reach Glen Cove by car or through public transit is available here.

It is possible that a police raid may happen on Thursday night or Friday morning (April 29) so people are needed now more than ever.

For more information and ongoing updates, visit protectglencove.org

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Occupation underway, demonstrations at City Hall and GVRD Headquarters

April 18, 2011 at 2:53 am (Indigenous, Land Occupations, Sacred Sites) ()

From Protect Glen Cove:

April 15 – Native Americans and supporters have successfully occupied the ancient burial site at Glen Cove, Vallejo, preventing the Greater Vallejo Recreation District from beginning work that would desecrate the sacred site. Beginning with an early morning spiritual ceremony attended by over 100 people, protesters vowed to block bulldozers and prevent any work that would desecrate the site from taking place. The occupation will continue until there is an agreement to protect the burial site. Dozens will camp at the site tonight.

At 11:30 am today the protesters held a peaceful rally and ceremony at Vallejo City Hall and then marched to the offices of the Greater Vallejo Recreation District.

Last night the United States Department of Justice sent a senior conciliation specialist to Glen Cove to meet with Native American leaders. The Native Americans asked the DOJ to help facilitate a meeting with the GVRD to try to reach an agreement to protect the sacred burial site. It is possible a meeting between the sides, mediated by the US Department of Justice, may occur Monday. The State Attorney General’s office has also become involved after the organization SSP&RIT filed an administrative civil rights complaint against the City and GVRD on Wednesday.

Native American activists and supporters have begun the occupation of Glen Cove as an escalation of their struggle that has been going on for over a decade, since the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD) first proposed plans for a “fully featured public park” including construction of a paved parking lot, paved hiking trails, 1000 pound picnic tables and a public restroom on top of the 3500 year old burial site.

On Wednesday, April 13th, Sacred Site Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSP&RIT), a Vallejo-based community organization, filed an administrative civil rights complaint to the State of California alleging that the City and GVRD are discriminating on the basis of race in threatening to destroy and desecrate significant parts of the Glen Cove Shellmound and burial site, for harming Native Americans’ religious and spiritual well-being, and effectively excluding Native Americans from their right to full participation in decision-making regarding the site.

The history and cultural value of the site has never been disputed. Human remains have been consistently unearthed as the area around the site has been developed. Native Americans continue to hold ceremonies at Sogorea Te just as they have for thousands of years. The Glen Cove Shell Mound spans fifteen acres along the Carquinez Strait. It is the final resting place of many Indigenous People dating back more than 3,500 years, and has served as a traditional meeting place for dozens of California Indian tribes. The site continues to be spiritually important to California tribes. The Glen Cove site is acknowledged by GVRD and the City to have many burials and to be an important cultural site, yet they are moving forward as early as Friday with plans to build a toilet and parking lot on this sacred site and to grade a hill that likely contains human remains and important cultural artifacts.

SSP&RIT have asked GVRD to reconsider their plans to grade the hill and build toilets and a parking lot at the site.

Photo: Circling up for a prayer in front of Vallejo City Hall, April 15, 2011

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