daily californian logo

BERKELEY'S NEWS • DECEMBER 06, 2022

Take a look at our 2022 midterm elections special issue!

West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site named 1 of 11 most endangered historic sites in US

article image

MAYA AKKARAJU | STAFF

According to Brian Turner, the Shellmound is the first site to be named to the America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in an urban area.

SUPPORT OUR NONPROFIT NEWSROOM

We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2020

The West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site was named one of the 11 most endangered historic places of 2020 in the United States by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, or NTHP, as announced at a press conference yesterday

Corrina Gould, Lisjan Ohlone leader and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, discussed the Shellmound’s new status at the press conference yesterday. According to Gould, the Shellmound’s addition to the list validates its historic significance to the Ohlone people, as well as establishing it as an important part of the Bay Area’s history.

“Each year, our America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list sheds light on important examples of our nation’s heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage,” said NTHP Chief Preservation Officer Katherine Malone-France at the press conference. “More than 300 places have been included on the list in its 35 year history and in that time, fewer than 5% of the listed sites have been lost.”

Efforts to conserve the Shellmound began more than four years ago when a development project was first planned for the site, according to Gould.

Although the Shellmound, which once stood four stories tall, was leveled in the 1950s, the site is still a space for prayer and ceremonies for the Ohlone people, Malone-France said. The remains of the site are currently underneath an asphalt parking lot on 1900 Fourth St

The Ohlone people hope to see the lot turned into a green space and cultural park, according to an animated sequence presented at the press conference. The site would include flowing water, a memorial park at which to rebury removed ancestors and a place for reflection and ceremony.

The Shellmound is the first Native American cultural site to make the list in an urban area, according to Brian Turner, NTHP public lands attorney. Typically, the list includes sites in rural settings, and this is the first time the list has addressed sacred site protection in a big city.

“Through this recognition, we are acknowledging the legacy of our ancestors and the continued importance of this sacred site for those in this present moment and for the next seven generations,” Gould said at the press conference.

Gould added that this is a culmination of decades of work to protect not only sites sacred to Native American tribes in Berkeley, but all throughout the Bay Area.

The city of Berkeley has previously made efforts to recognize the Ohlone people’s space in the city, according to Berkeley City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn. Last year, the words “Ohlone Territory” were added to all “Welcome to Berkeley” street signs, and in 2000 the Shellmound was landmarked by the city of Berkeley the first Native American village site to be given this designation in the Bay Area.

“Preserving and enhancing this site will help bring Ohlone history and current life back to our collective memories and take us one step closer to truth, healing, and hopefully someday, some measure of justice for indigenous people,” Hahn said at the event.

Corrections: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site was the first site in an urban area to make the Endangered Historic Places list. In fact, it was the first Native American cultural site in an urban area to make the list.
Contact Taylor Rudman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @TaylorRudman.
LAST UPDATED

SEPTEMBER 27, 2020


Related Articles

featured article
Berkeley City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to hold a special City Council meeting on Ohlone tribal history and culture, as well as to further discuss the placement of signs acknowledging the land of the Ohlone peoples.
Berkeley City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to hold a special City Council meeting on Ohlone tribal history and culture, as well as to further discuss the placement of signs acknowledging the land of the Ohlone peoples.
featured article
featured article
A judge denied a streamlined approval process for the construction of a mixed-use housing complex on the West Berkeley Shellmound.
A judge denied a streamlined approval process for the construction of a mixed-use housing complex on the West Berkeley Shellmound.
featured article
featured article
An Alameda County judge denied a petition for a mandate that would have allowed developers to build on about 28,000 square feet at the city of Berkeley's 1900 Fourth Street location.
An Alameda County judge denied a petition for a mandate that would have allowed developers to build on about 28,000 square feet at the city of Berkeley's 1900 Fourth Street location.
featured article