Today at Sogorea Te, more than 250 people of
many nations, races and creeds attended a Spiritual Gathering in the bright afternoon sun. Representatives of many California tribes were present, including the Cachil Dehe/Colusa Band of Wintu, Elem Pomo, Grindstone Wintu/Wailaki, Northern Chumash, Chemehuevi, Tuolumne Me-wuk, Pit River, Maidu, Mono, Karkin Ohlone and Rumsen Ohlone.
Food and supply donations flooded the camp kitchen today, including trays of hot Indian food from a local restaurant, large boxes of produce from the South Central Farmers and six boxes of supplies brought by the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Indian Movement.
Spirits were high, and speakers throughout the day affirmed an unwavering commitment to protecting sacred places and carrying forward traditional ways of life. Corrina Gould (Karkin/Chochenyo Ohlone) addressed the group, expressing gratefulness for all the sacrifices and contributions that have made these 59 days of continuous prayer and resistance possible.
“My Great Great Grandmother was born on these shores. This was the last place that my ancestors were forced from their land and pulled in to Mission Dolores and Mission San Jose. We didn’t choose this place, and decide that it would be sacred. Our ancestors chose it for us, long ago.
GVRD and the Native American Heritage Commission are saying that we don’t have the right to be here, or to have a seat at the table in deciding what happens to this place. That is wrong. As indigenous people of this land, we have an inherent right to be here and to protect the resting place of our ancestors.”
Jim Brown (Elem Pomo)
Jim Brown (Elem Pomo) led the circle in prayer. As he shared a song from the Elem roundhouse, he asked everyone to “close your eyes, and let your heart see…beyond the appearance of the colonized society that surrounds us”.
Joey Silvas (Wailaki) related the current reoccupation of Sogorea Te to other California land struggles of the past, such as the 1972 occupation at Pit River, Yurok/Hupa battles over fishing rights, and the fight against the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which is built on top of sacred Chumash burial grounds. “The struggle keeps going on, and on, and on”.
Cecilia Silvas (Pit River) emphasized that “What we are fighting for is not just about us as Indians. Its about all people, its about being human. By being here, you have shown yourselves to be human…When the land is destroyed, when the air and water are polluted, we all suffer. We all have to breathe the air, and drink the water. You are not a nationality, you are a human being.”
Jimbo Simmons (Choctaw) spoke about his recent experience at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York as an American Indian Movement member, and efforts made at the UN level to advance the struggle to set Leonard Peltier free from unjust imprisonment.
Wounded Knee DeOcampo (Me-wuk) spoke passionately about the necessity of taking a stand to protect sacred places. He thanked all the people that came from near and far to stand in solidarity with us, especially those from Northern California tribes who answered to the recent call for support. Repeating the sage words of Chief Little Turtle (Miami), Wounded Knee said: “If the tribes fight amongst each other, we will all be killed. But if we all join together as indigenous people, we will make a powerful fist.”
Leonard “Lenny” John of Grindstone Rancheria closed the circle, sharing words of support and singing prayer songs with a clapper stick.
Rick Mitchum Jr., Secretary of the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians (Colusa) and his family donated a truck-load of supplies and participated in the gathering. He relayed concerns about recent statements made by Kesner Flores (“MLD” for the Glen Cove site, who supports GVRD’s planned development) that he represents the Colusa, Cortina and Rumsey bands of Wintun Indians. Rick shared that Colusa has sent a letter to GVRD stating that Flores does not in fact represent them, and that they have not been included in the process regarding the proposed Glen Cove project.
Corrina Gould, Karkin/Chochenyo Ohlone. Photo by Beck Cowles.
During today’s gathering, Oakland-based graphic artist Melanie Cervantes unveiled a giant stack of beautiful new 4-color screen-printed 20×26 “Protect Sogorea Te” posters. She generously donated the design and printing the high-quality posters, which are being sold as a benefit for the Glen Cove Emergency Defense Fund for a suggested donation of $25-$50 each. (Come by Sogorea Te anytime or email email@example.com if you’d like one)
Corrina Gould thanked Melanie for the posters, and spoke about the long-term nature of the commitment that many have made to Sogorea Te.
“When we are finished here, and this place is protected from development, its not over. It will be our continual responsibility to keep coming back. To care for this land, to put down our prayers here and continue to honor the ancestors.”
- Winnemem Wintu website 6/11: Winnemem Hold a Salmon Ceremony at Glen Cove
Photos from today
Jim Brown (Elem Pomo)
Cecilia Silvas (Pit River) and Joey Silvas (Wailaki) address the group.
Melanie Cervantes with the “Protect Sogorea Te” poster that she created.
Lining up to carry firewood in to the spiritual encampment.
The 4th trailer full of wood that Sonoma Dave (Chiricahua Apache) has generously donated.
At sunset, after many had departed for home, spirited singing continued to fill the air.