Audio: Both Sides State Their Case in Dispute Between Vallejo and Native Americans

Photo: Kyung Jin Lee, KQED
Native Americans and the city of Vallejo have been at odds over the planned development of a disputed burial site in a 15-acre park in the Glen Cove area. Since last week, protesters have been illegally camping and using fire pits, vowing to prevent the planned addition of a parking lot, bathroom, and trail to land they say may contain sacred artifacts and burial remains.

Yesterday, a federal mediator brokered a deal to prevent arrests of the protesters, whose leaders have agreed to meet with Greater Vallejo Recreation District officials in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

Vallejo police Lt. Joel Salinas told the Vallejo Times Herald that “our position is to not arrest anyone unless there’s a court injunction or it’s a matter of public safety. Even if we arrested anyone, it would be a cite and release case.”

Last Friday, KQED news intern Kyung Jin Lee went up to Vallejo to cover the protest. Below are her interviews with Corrina Gould, of Indian People Organizing for Change, and Steve Pressley, Maintenance and Development Manager for the Greater Vallejo Recreation District.

Corrina Gould said the absence of artifacts and burial remains in the disputed area has not been determined yet. She said she had come to “resist and occupy this land until we can come up with a better solution for this area… Just because people made laws after they came into this land does not mean that the laws beforehand should not exist….If bulldozers come, we have a plan on how we’re going to stop them…in a non-violent way.”

Corrina Gould, of Indian People Organizing for Change:http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/04/VallejoProtester.mp3|titles=VallejoProtester

Greater Vallejo Rec’s Pressley says the city worked with the Native American community and other stakeholders on the development to try to address everyone’s concerns. He said there are homeowners who wanted a much larger development, and that the project was scaled back to preserve historically significant areas. He also said there is no evidence of artifacts found in soil that will be disrupted.

Steve Pressley of Greater Vallejo Rec :http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/04/VallejoRec.mp3|titles=VallejoRec Update 3:15 p.m.

Kyung Jin Lee reports:

I spoke with Mark Anoque with the International Indian Treaty Council this morning, who said someone from the US Dept. of Justice helped negotiate an agreement with the Greater Vallejo Recreation District to allow the protesters to continue occupying Glen Cove. He said there’s supposed to be an agreement in writing today.

Shane McAffee, the General Manager of the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, said he wasn’t aware of plans for a written agreement. He said he’s concerned about the fires and overnight camping, which are prohibited. He said he’ll allow a small fire to continue and people to remain after dusk without camping. If residents complain, he said, the fire and police department would handle the situation.

He said the protesters have no legal standing, and that forcibly removing them is still an option. The GVRD went through the appropriate local, state and federal process to secure development of the site, he said.

The protesters say they plan to continue occupying the site until there is a permanent resolution.

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  • Michael Siegel

    The problem with Mr. Pressley’s position is: who gets to decide what is a “historically significant area.” My feeling is that the U.S. has claimed 99.9999% of land originally utilized by indigenous tribes. Why do we have to claim every last piece?

  • Judith Frank

    Thank you, KQED, for the balanced reporting.

    As I contemplate this matter, I ask myself why it is that the greatest democracy in history is one of the few countries of the world that does not protect and maintain sites surviving from our ancient cultures. Consider the many sites in Ireland, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, etc, etc. People from all corners of the world visit these ancient sites respectfully and recognize them as world treasures.

    If Glen Cove were an African American cemetery, a Jewish cemetery, a Catholic cemetery, no one would have proposed what Vallejo is contemplating for Glen Cove. And were they to do such a thing in one of those cases, droves of people would protest. Why does the City of Vallejo treat citizens of our Native American communities differently than any of the rest of us?

    I am ashamed that this is happening in the United States.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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