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Ohlone people to SF Planning Dept: Follow the law, protect ancient village sites at Candlestick Point, Hunters Point Shipyard

January 11, 2010

Ohlone representatives call for extension of draft EIR comment period and inclusion in planning process

Rosemary Cambra - Photo: Paolo Vescia, SF Weekly
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 12 noon, a press conference will be held on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco by the original people of the land that is now called San Francisco, the Ohlone, represented by Ann Marie Sayers, Carmen Sandoval, Anthony Sul, Francisco Da Costa, Rosemary Cambra, and Espanola Jackson, accompanied by the International Indian Treaty Council, American Indian Movement West, United Native Americans, Ohlone Profiles Project, Indian People Organized for Change, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) and GreenAction for Health and the Environment. The press conference will begin with a welcome and blessing by the Ohlone and, at its conclusion, they will deliver letters to the Planning Department on the last day of the public comment period on the Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II Development Plan Project Draft Environmental Impact Report.

by Jaron Browne, POWER

San Francisco – In 2006, San Francisco Board of Supervisors amended the General Plan to allow for development of the Hunters Point Shipyard. According to California Senate Bill 18, passed in 2005, local Ohlone tribal members whose names are listed with the Native American Heritage Commission are to be included in the planning process of any such development. It now appears that none of the Ohlone representatives were contacted so that they could be involved in the planning process.

Ann Marie Sayers - Photo: IndianCanyon.org
“We are wondering why no contact was made with Ohlone people,” said Neil MacLean of the Ohlone Profiles Project. “We want the San Francisco Planning Department to follow Senate Bill 18, which requires them to include Ohlone people in the planning process.”

Tuesday, Jan. 12, is the deadline for public comment on the draft EIR for Phase II of the Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard. The Ohlone and their supporters will be turning in their comments and asking for an extension to allow them to meet with the Planning Department and provide input into the planning for the development of the 700 acres, the largest undeveloped area remaining in San Francisco.

“This is an important opportunity to work together to protect these ancient historical sites, honor our ancestors and insure that development pressures do not further damage critical Ohlone Indigenous sites,” said Ohlone representative Corrina Gould.

“The sites affected by the development are extremely significant and are believed to be burial or ceremonial sites,” said Ohlone Chairperson Ann Marie Sayers. “In addition to protecting these sites, we also want to work with the local community to protect their health, the land and the fragile Bay marine environment.”

Charlene Sul - Photo: Ohlone Profiles Project
The draft EIR states that there are at least four and probably five Ohlone village sites within the development boundaries and another 16 that are within a quarter mile of the project. According to Ohlone representatives, this is an important opportunity to work with the city to create an Ohlone Cultural Center and protect their historic sites, which may be 6,000 years old.

Ohlone organizers of the press conference would also like to work with the Bayview Hunters Point community to protect the unique characteristics of the neighborhood and allow for the protection and restoration of the important environmental resources. The economic vitality of the neighborhood also depends on the health of the people in the neighborhood.

“The area, including the Shipyard, must be cleaned up so that it can support healthy living and working conditions,” said Mishwa Lee, a Bayview resident and Ohlone supporter. “We want this land to be a healthy place for the future generations, just as the Ohlone ancestors lived to protect their lands and waters for our generations.”

Jaron Browne of POWER can be reached at (415) 864-8372 or jb@unite-to-fight.org.

Letter from the Ohlone people to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Board of Supervisors and City Attorney Dennis Herrera

Jan. 11, 2010

Dear Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Supervisors and SF City Attorney,

Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s, the Ohlone people’s territory stretched from what is now called Monterey to San Francisco. Several villages like this thrived in the area of what is now Candlestick Point and the Hunters Point Shipyard, where Lennar wants to house nearly 25,000 people in highrise and lowrise condominium buildings.
We are requesting that you grant an immediate extension of the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II. Several Ohlone leaders and organizations are concerned about the 16 archeological sites in the project area. They have not been given adequate notice to participate in the planning stages nor in the comment period. As far as we can tell, their only notice has come from community organizations and occurred during the last few weeks. The Planning Department has failed to notify them.

We don’t know why they have been overlooked and believe that California Senate Bill 18 requires their notification and inclusion in the planning process. The bill also requires that they be given 45 days to prepare comments after notification. Normally, they would have been notified in the summer of 2008 when the plans were initiated and they would have been included in the planning process over the last 18 months. We are concerned that they have been disenfranchised by the Planning Department so far.

The Ohlone traveled and fished in canoes made from the reeds that grew in abundance in the wetlands, such as those being restored in the area between the Shipyard and Candlestick and those buried under landfill in the Shipyard and Candlestick.
The draft EIR states that the Ohlone sites are likely to be older, more significant and more unique than previously assumed. These sites have not been studied since the early 1900s. More sites are expected to be discovered during the construction.

The 700-acre size and the natural shoreline this development impacts and the Ohlone heritage within the project site combine to make this an excellent opportunity for San Francisco to include Ohlone people and brings their presence back to the city after 235 years. A serious effort to include them would be so welcomed by the Ohlone and their many supporters. Please do the right thing: Extend the comment period and include the Ohlone in the planning.

Treasures like this Ohlone abalone shell necklace probably lie buried in the landfill created when the hills at the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point were cut down.
All Our Relations,

Ohlone representatives: Ann Marie Sayers, Corrina Gould, Charlene Sul and Carmen Sandoval, Ohlone Profiles Project, American Indian Movement West, International Indian Treaty Council

The Ohlone representatives can be reached at Indian Canyon Nation/Costanoan Indian Research, Inc., P.O. Box 28, Hollister, CA 95024‐0028.

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