Last summer, Governor Gavin Newsom on behalf of California apologized to the Native Americans for historic misconduct and promised to work with the natives to begin the healing process. Our Governor now has a golden opportunity to show his loyalty.
Puvungna, a 22-acre estate on the California State University campus, Long Beach, is the region’s last undeveloped sacred site. CSU Long Beach has repeatedly tried to co-operate the land over the years and generally sees it as a piece of land waiting to be developed. Newsom and the CSU Board – many of whom are appointed by the governor – can and must act to protect the land permanently.
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The Puvungna controversy comes as there is increasing recognition of how our government and society systematically disrespect and protect Blacks, Indigenous peoples and people of color.
Puvungna, once a 500-acre prehistoric site, has religious, cultural and historical significance to the local tribes. The Juaneño band of the Missionary Indians, the Acjachemen Country – Belardes, Gabrielino / Tongva, and a number of other Native American groups – continue to hold ceremonies on the land throughout the year. Puvungna is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites and on the California Native American Heritage Commission’s Sacred Land Inventory. The land is a beautiful meadow dotted with native oak trees. Until recently, the spring wildflower was a work of art.
But last fall, the university deliberately poured a large amount of construction debris and dirt onto our sacred land. CSU Long Beach has also sprayed grasslands with pesticides, killing many native flowers and grasses. In doing so, the university violated fundamental rights of native Californians as well as state AB 52 law, which required CSU Long Beach to consult with specific tribal authorities. Before taking actions can weaken the integrity of this sacred land. My tribe was not consulted before construction debris was placed on the land.
Several years ago, CSU Long Beach tried to build a strip mall on this land.
A parking lot was overhanging our meadows, and now a huge pile of trash and dirt deteriorated our ceremonial space.
We fear that the university is trying to “cover” the site, a process in which buried cultural resources are considered to be in need of protection – thus opening the door to development. But it is land that is a cultural resource. We cannot hold religious ceremonies in the parking strip of the mall strip mall or the lobby of a building.
My tribal government demanded that, as a first step, the university remove construction debris, remove dumped soil and hire an indigenous plant specialist to restore the damaged habitat. on Puvungna.
Four hundred years after the British colonists landed on Plymouth Rock and ruined the lives of her ancestors, Paula Peters is on a mission to rediscover a small portion of what her people have lost.
A year of transatlantic commemoration marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s trip that opens in Southampton, England, on Saturday with an exhibition focusing on one victim of the colonial process: Metacom’s wampum belt , a 17th century leader of the Native American nation of Wampanoag.
Woven with pictures depicting tribal history and legends, the beaded belts are “as important to the Wampanoag as crown jewels to the English king,” says Peters, writer and educator. education of Wampanoag said.
In 1620, Wampanoag, who had lived for millennia in what is now New England, helped the exhausted Mayflower settlers survive their first winter. But within a few decades, tensions flared into a brutal conflict in the Being an American is a choice being a Native American is an honor shirt 1670s known as King Philip’s War. Metacom was killed and his belt was sent to King Charles II of England as a trophy.
“From all we can tell it went to Great Britain, but it never reached the king,” Peters said from her home in Mashpee, Massachusetts. “We’ve searched for that belt for generations of our people,”
The hunt took Peters to the British Museum, which houses one of the Being an American is a choice being a Native American is an honor shirt largest collections of wampum belts in the world. She didn’t find it there, but she had an idea: Wampanoag would make a new belt, then send it to England for display. It will help share their stories and possibly bring in new leads in search.