California natives struggle to preserve ancient sacred site

North of San Fransisco, tucked away on a small cove of the Bay Area, lies the Glen Cove Shell Mound, a site considered sacred by the local Indians.

The Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council has been fighting to protect the Glen Cove Shell Mound, a location they claim as sacred. But after 11 years of lobbying and protests, the Council has not been able to effect any significant gains in protecting the site. Within a period of days, said the Council, the site will be subjected to what the Council calls “eco-rape.”

The Greater Vallejo Recreation District said the planned rehabilitation of the land, which is currently a public park, would see some of the land restored to what it would have looked like about 100 years ago. The rest of the plans include a picnic area, restrooms and a parking lot, along with groomed hiking trails. The Council wants to see an existing mansion and caretaker’s cottage carefully torn down. They would also like to see non-native plants carefully removed. The Council would prefer the land be left alone altogether, out of respect for the ancestors. The mound is thought to be over 3,000 years old.

As for scheduled plans for the start of work at the Glen Cove Park next week, the Council has said it intends to block workers from the site reported the Vallejo Times-Herald. Indian Country Today reported that many artefacts from the mound had been removed in the 1900s. It is believed the artefacts, which include human remains, are now at Berkley. The former property owners built a mansion on top of the shell mound over 80 years ago, and when they sold the property, they deeded the 15 acres of waterfront area, which includes the mansion, to the City. The battle over the shell mound has pitted Aboriginal spiritual interests against the interest of nearby property owners, who view the park as adding value to their real estate.

Author Malcolm Margolin, who wrote about California’s Ohlone Indians, whose ancestors were some of the people who used to live at Glen Cove, told the SFGate that the site should be preserved, saying.
“It’s not just an obligation we, as the dominant culture, have to save these sites. There’s something to be gained from it. Otherwise we’re throwing away a well of history, heritage, wisdom, humor, fun. It’s about the past, but it’s also about our present.”

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0 Responses to California natives struggle to preserve ancient sacred site

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