Cora Moore Dunaway April 12 at 12:51am
I wrote this letter to Glen Cove on behalf of Wounded Knee DeOcampo. I got to speak with Wounded Knee on our way to Colorado, and I was overjoyed. He asked me to write a letter based on my experience and knowledge of archaeology, sacred sites, and the laws involving these matters. You have to take what you know and use it against ‘em! Please feel free to use this letter as a template to send your own letter. We need as many letters as possible sent to Glen Cove by Aril 15, 2011, which is THIS FRIDAY! Thanks!
Dear Mayor Davis and Mr McAffee,
I am writing this letter concerning the impeding destruction of the Glen Cove shell mound, a sacred site in the Vallejo Valley. I am writing this letter on behalf of the Strong Heart Preservation Movement. I am the Co-director of this group and our work involves educating the public on the importance of cultural preservation. I am also an archaeologist with over 10 years fieldwork experience and serve as a Counselor for The League of Indian Nations of North America. My Master’s thesis focused on the symbolic and religious characteristics of mound sites, such as Glen Cove.
For this site to be preserved, it must have significance and integrity from a research and public view. Publically, people are interested in mound sites as well as interested in learning about other cultures and their heritage. Mounds are a cultural phenomenon that occur all over the world. Mounds vary in size, shape, and function. Scientifically and archaeologically, we have not discerned all the functions and significance of mound sites. Because of this, the integrity and significance of Glen Cove has not been discerned either, and it is important that we protect and preserve these cultural ecofacts so that we can learn more about them and our cultural diversity.
What we do know about mounds, archaeologically, is that they do signify places of ceremony and worship; thus, mound sites denote sacred space. From the standpoint of a human being that listens to others, I know from the local Natives that Glen Cove is indeed a very significant site related to cultural beliefs and practices. Because the Glen Cove site is a known place of worship, desecrating it will violate the Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979. According to this Act, “archaeological resources on public lands and Indian lands are an accessible and irreplaceable part of the Nation’s heritage.” Furthermore, any destruction to this site or inhibiting access to such sacred sites is in clear violation of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. This law was enacted because sacred sites and public access land were in conflict, and because Native Americans were not being allowed access to their sacred sites. Additionally, this Act was created so that Native Americans could worship as they pleased based on their first amendment rights. Furthermore, the American Indian Religious Act Amendments of 1994 clearly states:
The Congress finds that- (1) unlike any other established religion, many traditional Native American Religions are site-specific in that the Native American religions hold certain lands or natural formations to be sacred; (2) such sacred sites are an integral and vital part of the Native American religions and the religious practices associated with such religions; (3) many of these sacred sites are found on lands which were formerly part of the aboriginal territory of the Indians but which now are held by the Federal Government; and (4) lack of sensitivity or understanding of traditional Native American religions on the part of Federal agencies vested with the management of Federal lands has resulted in the lack of a coherent policy for the management of sacred sites found on Federal lands and has also resulted in the infringement upon the rights of Native Americans to religious freedom.
Commercial development in Vallejo Valley and at Glen Cove are threatening the Native American people’s first amendment rights as well as threatening cultural resource protection laws. Therefore, the impeding destruction of the Glen Cove site is more than a Native American issue because it deals with violation of HUMAN rights guaranteed by our American Constitution and system of democracy.
Furthermore, one of the most important acts instituted by our country’s founding father, George Washington, guaranteed protection to the Native American people indefinitely, which is the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
Article 1 states: No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory.
Article Three states: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.
What is the point of having laws if nobody is upholding them? I believe what is happening with the Glen Cove site is not in “upmost good faith,” nor founded in “justice and humanity…. [for maintaining and] preserving peace and friendship” (Northwest Ordnance of 1787).
This needless destruction must stop, and it will take both sides listening to the other, and I think the mayor and people of Glen Cove should really stop to listen before mindlessly destroying more culture. I strongly encourage Vallejo Valley to listen and work with its Native members so that we maintain cultural heritage and integrity. It is up to all of us to act as a social and moral conscience to protect these sacred sites so that we preserve our identities as human beings. We learn from the past so that the present and future are better. We must think of our children and their children’s children. We have to set the positive examples now so that these sacred sites are more than a picture in a book, but very real and intact. These sacred sites are important to all of us, of all cultures and ethnicities, because they do signify our identities as human beings and define our cultures as well as exemplify and honor our spiritual essence. I am writing this letter to appeal to the City of Glen Cove and the people of California to stand up and help in this fight to save the Glen Cove Shell Mound. The past must be preserved so that, in the future, our children are not lost and suffering. I thank you for your time.
Co-Director Strong Heart Preservation Movement
League of Indian Nations of North America Counselor