April, 12, 2011
Dear Mayor Osby Davis, GRVD, Carone and Company Inc., Shane McAffee, The Native American Historical Preservation Committee,
We are writing this letter in support of preservation of the Glen Cove Shell Mound for The League of Indian Nations of North America, which is recognized under the International Parliament of Safety and Peace and over 130 nations around the world. This protection falls under the Vienna Convention of April 19, 1961 as per certificate #0/32. We have previously sent you a letter stating how sites in your area have either been desecrated and bodies of Native people have even been placed in boxes in museums. We ask that you reconsider your position concerning building on Glen Cove or fencing the area off from the local Native people who worship there. The bottom line, and I hope this letter makes this point clear, is that preservation of ALL cultural significant sites and spiritual places must take place in order to protect our beautiful diversity of ALL people for the future.
Once sacred sites, such as mounds, burials, spiritual grounds are destroyed, they cannot be replaced. In many ways this makes the sites similar to the resources that we are abusing now from the earth. In fact, these sites hold deep spiritual value for the Native community, and once those are destroyed, part of the peoples’ sacred ways are destroyed as well. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People clearly explains that these sites belong to ALL Native people who worship there:
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”
Under this legally binding international law, cities are responsible for providing and encouraging these opportunities. We do not feel that the tampering or fencing off of the Glen Cove site respects this law, and we encourage you to rectify this situation. Furthermore, this law gives all Native people who hold the mound sacred the right to voice their concerns and use the sacred space for religious purposes. We do not feel that the Native American Preservation Committee is hearing ALL Native voices connected with the mound, and has only vested its decisions on the opinions of one or two individuals. Indigenous people have right to full access of their lands and resources, as well as traditional social customs and judiciary practices.
If President Barack Obama does sign the declaration, this will mean that all US cities are accountable for their actions. The importance of preservation of cultural heritage and diversity should be priority number one on the council’s agenda, and we hope that you will respect these laws. Furthermore, there a many US laws in place for the protection of mounds and sacred places that we encourage the city of Vallejo to support. For example, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13007, which is to protect Native Sacred Sites, in 2006. Section 1, Article 3, clearly explains that the US government recognizes the protection of sites that are considered sacred to Native groups or “individuals:”
(iii) ‘‘Sacred site’’ means any specific, discrete, narrowly delineated
location on Federal land that is identified by an Indian tribe, or Indian
individual determined to be an appropriately authoritative representative
of an Indian religion, as sacred by virtue of its established religious significance to, or ceremonial use by, an Indian religion; provided that the tribe
or appropriately authoritative representative of an Indian religion has informed the agency of the existence of such a site.”
We have the understanding that the city will commence with building around and near the mound in Glen Cove on April 15th. We also understand that there will be peaceful Native prayer gatherings on that day. Under the same law stated above and the UN Declaration, we ask that no interference with these prayer gatherings happen on any day. The law clearly states that Native individuals have a right to worship on their “own” land, and that the physical integrity of all sacred sites will be protected:
“Section 1. Accommodation of Sacred Sites. (a) In managing Federal lands,
each executive branch agency with statutory or administrative responsibility
for the management of Federal lands shall, to the extent practicable, permitted
by law, and not clearly inconsistent with essential agency functions, (1)
accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian
religious practitioners and (2) avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity
of such sacred sites. Where appropriate, agencies shall maintain the confidentiality of sacred sites”
The League of Indian Nations of North America supports ALL Native peoples’ rights to be able to practice their spirituality without the threat of arrest or destruction of their site. We hold that preservation of cultural heritage, the appreciation of diversity of ALL people, and the preservation of sacred sites is essential in order to allow for religious freedom and the education of future generations of children. If the United States and all state and local officials wish to respect the freedom and diversity that we claim to protect, the organizations and cities will recognize that the destruction of these sites hurt other people, restrict their freedoms to live a spiritual life as they so choose, and destroy the future and educational benefit of these sites for both indigenous and non-indigenous people. We encourage the city to protect this sacred place, and would support your effort in doing so.
Robert and Cora Dunaway
US Ambassadors for The League of Indian Nations of North America
The Strong Heart Preservation Movement
President Patrick Sarrazin
Supreme Grand Chief
Diplomatic Counselor for All Indian Nations
Deputy Member of the National Assembly
Cc: President Victor Busha
International Parliament of Safety and Peace