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“How can we respectfully live, work, and walk on Ohlone land?”
At a recent presentation about her work on protecting sacred Indigenous sites in the East Bay, Corrina Gould faced a lot of seemingly impossible questions. She had presented the local history — from the 10,000 year long native perspective — to a packed room of Bay Area newcomers trying to come to terms with the fact that their current lives directly build on three waves of genocide: The Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone living in the ancient village of Huichin were displaced, enslaved, and killed in turn by Spanish missions, Mexican ranchos, and the American invasion. And the current escalation of gentrification-driven evictions in what is now called Oakland could well go down in history as a fourth wave of displacements, if not genocide. However, despite having been denied federal recognition, the Ohlone tribes and Indigenous organizations — in coalition with racial justice organizers such as SURJ Bay Area — are gaining traction in advocating for historic preservation, Indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice in the Bay Area:
Hundreds of Berkeley residents turned out time and time again to speak out at City Council and Planning Commission meetings, convincing the City to reject a fast-tracked development desecrating the West Berkeley Shellmound — the site of first human settlement on the shore of San Francisco Bay, and 5000 year old burial ground.
As an organization that moves white people to organize for collective liberation, we at SURJ take immeasurable inspiration and guidance from Indigenous organizers such as Corrina Gould, who always finds a way to answer impossible questions with strikingly simple visions:
“Nothing can undo the damage that’s been done, will bring back the lost lives or erase the suffering of the people. But you can recognize that you are guests on this land, you can move like a guest would in someone else’s house, and you can get back into community and relationship with the land and its people. The land teaches us all we need to know.’’
SURJ Bay Area is committed to confronting our legacies of colonialism and genocide. We follow the leadership of Sogorea Te toward collective healing by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the land at all our events, paying long term reparations, and organizing white people to deepen their relationship with the land and Indigenous community. So as part of our #12DaysToShowUp campaign we invite you to:
Today is the third day of our 2018 #12DaysToShowUp fundraising campaign. SURJ Bay Area has a principle of passing on, without condition, at least half of all funds we raise to local racial justice organizations led by People of Color, including Sogorea Te. The rest will be used to fund under-resourced rural SURJ chapters throughout the country, and to continue our work mobilizing white people in the Bay Area. Donate today to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $30,000. In addition to this donation, we encourage you to send matching donations directly to people of color-led organizations doing important work in the Bay Area and beyond.
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