(main text updated June 4 2018)
We, the undersigned members of the San Francisco, North Bay, and East Bay (and international) Reclaiming communities of Witches support Ohlone families and allies working to #SaveTheWestBerkeleyShellmound. Despite genocidal violence by the Spanish and later U.S. colonial governments, Ohlone people are still here. We acknowledge the Ohlone and neighboring California Indian tribes and nations, including the Pomo, Miwok, Patwin, Yokuts, Salinan, and Esselen peoples as the past, present, and future care-takers of the lands on which we reside.
The Reclaiming Tradition began in the 1980s when members the original collective were involved in demonstrations against the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The origins of our spiritual practice include modern interpretations of earth-based ceremonial traditions of pre-Christian Europe. Our commitment to feminism, ecology, and justice in all its forms compels us to support Ohlone peoples. We do so with the awareness that as a community which has developed in the San Francisco Bay Area, our spiritual tradition was largely founded on occupied Ohlone territories.
In 1909, archeologist Nels Nelson created a map of the over 425 shellmound burial sites that ring the Bay Area. Many have been destroyed as a result of settler intrusion. One of the largest is buried below the Bay Street Mall in Emeryville. Today, the oldest shellmound and village site located at 1900 Fourth Street in Berkeley is threatened. Despite being named a historic landmark by the Berkeley Landmarks Commission and its ceremonial importance for Ohlone peoples, West Berkeley Investors has aggressively sought to build apartments, restaurants, and a parking garage on top of this site. We affirm East Bay Ohlone families whose statement says: “We oppose any desecration of our sacred site. Our sacred sites are not for sale. We will not allow our ancestors to be disturbed. This sacred site represents more than 5,000 years of our history and it also currently represents our living culture. We will not permit the desecration of a site that is sacred to our families, our culture, and our ancestors.”
We recognize the role of Ohlone women on the front lines of sacred sites protection, Indigenous rights, and cultural survival. This is especially important to mention in light of the rising epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirits across Turtle Island (North America). We also acknowledge the struggle to protect the West Berkeley Shellmound is related to larger Indigenous movements to defend sacred places against the forces of commodification, extraction, and pollution including efforts to protect Oakflat (Apache), defend Mauna Kea (Kānaka Maoli/Native Hawaiians), and resist the numerous oil pipelines through Indigenous territories.
Acting in solidarity includes following the lead of Ohlone elders, showing up when asked, contacting local officials, donating what we can, and working in our own communities to disrupt settler-colonialism and white supremacy. We commit to doing our part to support Ohlone peoples to protect the West Berkeley Shellmound and other sites for the generations of Ohlone peoples yet unborn.
Calls to Action
*Contact the City of Berkeley and tell them why saving the Shellmound is a priority for you. Email the city planner: [firstname.lastname@example.org]. E-mail the city attorney [email@example.com].
Call and e-mail the City Manager Dee Williams Ridley at 510-981-7000 or firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] Within the next 36-48 hours.
*Donate to our legal fund https://shellmound.org/take-action/
*Learn more at https://shellmound.org
*Stay connected through social media:
West Berkeley Shellmound group on Facebook (https://tinyurl.com/hwe3696)
Reclaiming and Friends Issue Statement Of Support
We, the undersigned groups and individuals of the Reclaiming Tradition and other Pagan Traditions, stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, the Lakota people, and all Indigenous Peoples who are fighting to preserve and protect their homes and lands. We stand in solidarity with all who declare these things sacred: clean water and air, verdant forests, meadows, prairies and wetlands, and ways of life that honor people over profit.
To hold something sacred means that its well-being becomes the standard by which we judge our actions and decisions. In the words of the defenders who have made their stand at Standing Rock, water is life. No amount of money, no profits that benefit a few, can justify a threat to the very means and sustenance of life.
We bear witness and acknowledge the history of genocide of the indigenous peoples of this continent and the theft of land and resources that began half a millennium ago and continues to this day. We honor the sovereignty and rights of Indigenous Peoples, and demand that no projects that affect their lands, territories, or resources be undertaken without their free, prior, and informed consent.
Our sacred traditions have roots in the earth-based spiritual traditions of our ancestors from around the world. In many places they, too, suffered persecution for holding to their old ways and beliefs, and we proudly call ourselves Witches and Pagans—reclaiming the European words used to justify murder and expropriation of the healers, herbalists, and visionaries of the common people.
And yet many of us also unwillingly benefit from the system that still appropriates indigenous lands, lives and culture. All the more, then, do we bear responsibility to listen to the voices of the original peoples of this land, to stand in solidarity and do whatever we can to assure a viable future for the generations to come.
Today, climate change threatens the life support systems of the planet. We know that we must stop burning fossil fuels and turn to safe, renewable sources of energy. Yet the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry continue to exploit dirty and unsustainable sources of oil, delving for every last drop in ways that assault Mother Earth and fracture her very bones, spilling filth onto the lands and spoiling the waters. Around the world, from the Tar Sands of Canada to the oil fields of Nigeria, indigenous peoples have borne the worst brunt of this assault, through loss of land, health and life, through epidemics of cancer and outright assassination and torture.
The fight to stop this pipeline is also a stand to make the shift we know must come—to leave the oil in the ground and make our energy from sources that do not threaten the stability of life on earth.
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation and their allies have now taken the lead in this struggle, and we support them and accept our own responsibility in this crucial time to protect the health of prairie lands and mountains, of rivers and underground waters, of green valleys and ancient forests, of the web of life that sustains us all.
We invite groups and individuals from other Pagan and earth-based traditions to join with us in heeding the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the Sacred Stone Camp’s calls for solidarity and support. We are all related.
The water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux is threatened by construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which was permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in late July, despite the objections of three federal agencies including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Supporters are being asked to call their elected representatives, and donate to support the well-being of defenders at Sacred Stone camp. For up-to-date information on what is needed, please visit standingrock.org and sacredstonecamp.org
This statement was crafted by Reclaiming Pagan Cluster activists and issued with the support of many work groups and communities within the Reclaiming network.
To add your support to this statement, sign on at:
We, the members of Reclaiming’s Racial and Gender Justice Circle, stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to end police brutality, murder, and targeting of people of color. We are people of different races, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and diversity, who are drawn to the ancient, pre-Christian, earth-based spirituality with roots in Europe and the Middle East, and we identify with the Witches who were murdered with impunity throughout centuries of oppression. When any group can be victimized, none of us are safe. We acknowledge the Goddess--the sacred being of every person--and the value of every person’s life.
We also acknowledge that people of color, and in particular black people, are being especially targeted today, and still bear the brunt of a long history of dehumanization and exploitation, from the genocide against native peoples to the long years of slavery, from the exploitation of migrant workers to the era of lynching and segregation. These same communities have also furnished us all with a roster of heras and heros who inspire us all, and have led proud struggles for liberation just as they rightly step into the forefront of this struggle today. We are proud to lend our support to all who are calling for accountability, safety for communities of color, and justice.
Because we are a decentralized tradition, we have no mechanism for Reclaiming as a whole to issue statements such as this one. However, we believe that this expression of solidarity has wide support in our community, and we invite individuals and groups to sign on in the comments section below.
(And feel free to share this post widely!)
*Note: the date of this blog entry was changed from Jan 19 to Jan 20 to keep it at the top of the page.*
A diverse crowd gathered in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood to honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr with calls for justice, equality - and a strong message of support for Black Lives Matter and campaigns to end police and state violence.
Many Reclaiming and kindred folks were involved in the march, continuing a burst of activism going back to the Occupy movement in 2011.
More photos and features at RQ: http://reclaimingquarterly.org/web/mlk15/