Sunday, September 18, 2011

Save The Knoll - September 13 City Hall Vigil

On September 13, community members and members of the Save the Knoll Coalition returned to the Santa Cruz City Hall for a second time since the August 2 news that 6000 year old human remains (Ohlone) were found at the KB Home construction site at the Branciforte Creek Knoll. Again, protesters used open forum time to demand that the council put the issue of the Knoll on the official council meeting agenda. Council Member Don Lane stated, however, that since there was nothing for the council to vote on, the issue of the Knoll wouldn't make it to the official agenda. Lane and a city planner spoke positively about the progress they had made with discussions between city officials, KB Home, and Anne Marie Sayers, who was named most likely descendant of the first remains recovered, but they claimed they could not comment about anything specific.

Former Assembly Member Fred Keeley (right) listens in

Council Chambers

The Santa Cruz City Council

Mike Tomasi modified his comments to support
 Native Americans that day

For transcripts of the statements made, see:

Cops Called On Man Downtown With A Machine Gun - It Was A Bass

On Friday, September 2 in the alleyway next to Tampico Kitchen in downtown Santa Cruz, I photographed officers from the SCPD searching the bass guitar case of local musician Joe Munda.

When I first arrived at the scene, people on Pacific Avenue told me that "two ladies" had called the police on Munda, warning them that he was carrying a machine gun downtown. Closer to where Munda was being searched, a man I had seen playing music a few blocks down on Pacific earlier in the day was yelling at the police, saying, "It's only a bass! What are you guys doing!!!!" or words to that effect. Two Downtown Hospitality Hosts looked on from Pacific Avenue, sharing in the excitement, and I wondered if they were the "two ladies" that phoned this in, but I never found out. As I photographed the scene, the interviewing officer waved at me, and at that time I heard him politely apologizing to Munda, hoping he understood that they had to respond to the call.

I caught up again with Munda outside of Metavinyl on Maple Street. He was a little bit shaken, but mostly he was supportive of the police. One of the officers was also a bass player, which Munda thought helped moderate the situation, and they spoke about their shared taste in the bass playing of Rush's Geddy Lee. The downtown hosts were also in front of Metavinyl, and Munda recalled how when he was working at the now closed Discount Records on Pacific, a man had been threatening people with a knife at the New Leaf Market across the street. Munda had attempted to intervene, and he said that when the police arrived they had to try a variety of approaches with the man before finally shooting him with "sand" to disable him. He also recalled from that day that one of the downtown hosts with whom we were speaking had been there that day at the scene at New Leaf as well.

Joe Munda, Outside of Metavinyl

The Bass

Munda is currently playing in the band Misterioso, and when he mentioned that, I realized I had photographed him and the band at the Breast Cancer Awareness Flash Mob which was held on August 21 at City Hall.

Munda (center), playing a different bass, with Misterioso at City Hall

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Save The Knoll - August 25 March To City Hall

Pacific Avenue

On Thursday, August 25, the Save the Knoll Coalition held its second protest and march through downtown Santa Cruz. Community members started at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Laurel Street, and then made their way to City Hall where a closed session meeting of the city council was being held. Protesters gained access to the meeting, and people (including me) spoke in front of the Santa Cruz City Council, demanding protection for the Ohlone burial site at the Branciforte Creek Knoll. In addition to comments made by community members, Charlene Sul, the head of the Confederation of Ohlone Peoples spoke. Ann Marie Sayers, who was designated the most likely descendant of the first human remains unearthed at the Knoll, was present at the meeting but did not speak.

Turning onto Locust Street

Circling up at City Hall

Charlene Sul, Ann Marie Sayers, and attorney Daniel Sheehan

City Chambers

Charlene Sul speaks before the council

Ann Marie Sayers at City Hall

Transcripts are at:

For more info, see:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Words From Ann Marie Sayers at the Ohlone Speaking Event on Sunday

Ann Marie Sayers

"We are from here. There are some elders that we have that are from the direct village site that we are discussing today."

--Ann Marie Sayers


Ann Marie Sayers, who was named the most likely descendant of the 6000 year old remains of the Ohlone child unearthed at the Knoll near Branciforte Creek on August 2, appeared Sunday at an Ohlone speaking event organized by the Save the Knoll Coalition held at Pacific Cultural Center in Santa Cruz. 200 people attended the event, which offered food, arts and crafts for sale, singing and music performances, and featured speakers
Tony Cerda, Corrina Gould, Wounded Knee DeOcampo, Henry Dominguez, and Sayers.

This was Ann Marie Sayers' most lengthy public discussion of the issues surrounding the burial site that is currently being disturbed by the construction by KB Home, and her comments cleared up some points that many have been curious about.

She stated that there are indeed direct descendants of the Ohlone people who originally lived in the village that was located at the site, and she is in contact with them. Some members of the public have described the site, to the detriment of the Ohlone people, as part of an ancient history that should be discussed in terms of archeology and artifacts, as opposed to one that is set in a contemporary context and who's uses resemble more closely those commonly associated with cemeteries and a number of types of active sacred sites. People alive today have a long standing connection to the Knoll and the nearby field near Branciforte Creek.

Sayers mentioned her mother's views on the issue of burials, "My mother believed when a burial is disturbed, the spirit of that individual is wandering until that individual is re-interred ceremonially." This was the first time she has mentioned publicly that the desecration that had occurred at the Knoll could possibly be repaired ceremonially. For Sayers, the presence of her ancestors is not an isolated intellectual fact, it is something that can be felt, and it is important to her that people have prayed at the site, "I'm just really impressed with the native peoples and the non-native peoples who have come up to pray on the Knoll to acknowledge the people who were there, and who's spirits still are because you can feel them." Sayers recalled when she was first told that she was named most likely descendant of the person unearthed, "I was told it was a five to seven year old child; it just hits you, and goes inside of you, you feel it."

Sayers couldn't be more positive about her experiences with the support she has received from the community, saying, "Today is the best time for a California Indian to be living, since contact, and it is because of people like you, thank you so very very much."

She mentioned her frustrations with the process of interacting with the city, though: "I believe it was the Native Plant Society that brought a lawsuit against the city, and they were able to get this huge, immense area protected with a 50 foot buffer for a spine flower, but when it comes to our ancestors it's like we don't count, it's like we are invisible, but we're not, we're still here, and we still have a connection with where our ancestors were from."

She closed her comments with a statement of gratitude directed towards the audience, "I cannot tell you how much your presence to learn more about the original people on whose land we are on, how important it is to me, and for all the Ohlone peoples, for all native peoples, because we are still here."

Corrina Gould

Tony Cerda

Wounded Knee

Henry Dominquez

To learn more about Ann Marie Sayers, visit the Indian Canyon Website. Indian Canyon is the only Indian Country located on the Central Coast of California. It is the land her family has lived on for generations, and that Sayers fought for to gain federal protection.

For more information on how to help protect the burials, see:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Patrick Orozco at Ohlone Day: "What are We?"

The 26th annual Ohlone Day was held at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton yesterday. The event that both celebrates and educates drew another large crowd this year, and featured all of the usual fun: atlatls, Indian tacos, and amazing dancing and Ohlone performances.

The main message that Ohlone Day communicates could not be any more important: that the Ohlone people are alive; the day is not a tribute to a lost people, it is a vital celebration of a living culture that flourishes in so many ways in Santa Cruz County, the Monterey Bay, and the greater Bay Area.

It was Patrick Orozco who summed it up succinctly. The founder of the Ohlone dance group Amah-ka-tura, spoke during their performance about how the federal government does not recognize the Ohlone because they are not, in the government’s words, “active.”

His reply, “What are we?” (Pointing to Amah-ka-tura)

Members of the Save the Knoll Coalition

Arts & Crafts and Educational Booths

Photos I took of Ohlone Day in 2010:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two Men Cited Downtown - One For His Dog, One For ?

On Sunday, August 28, 2011, while walking on Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz, taking photos, I noticed a small group of musicians playing in front of the Rit (the E. C. Rittenhouse Building, which is located at the corner of Pacific Ave. and Church St.). They played in different configurations for 20 minutes or so. Almost all of them had dreadlocks and it was a mixed ethnicity group of colorfully dressed people. I walked further downtown and then back near that spot again and noticed the group was down to two of the people, and standing in front of them was an officer with the Santa Cruz Police Department, writing a citation. I started taking photos about 10 feet away from the officer, and after about four shots, the officer took photos of me. I asked them if they were being ticketed for the dog not wearing the proper leash, but the guitar player wasn't sure exactly what the dog citation was about. It had been less than a week since the Pacific Avenue dog ban had been lifted for its trial period, and I was curious how the city was managing it.

I can't remember how it was apparent that they were both being ticketed, but the first ticket written was the dog ticket, and while the officer was writing the guitar player the ticket, we both asked his friend what he had been cited for and he (the friend) was only semi-responsive to us. I asked the police officer if he was being cited for the dog having the wrong leash and the officer said he couldn't talk about the citation he wrote for someone else, I apologized, and he said it was ok in what I would call a nice tone. The guitar player at this time told me he thought the police were harassing him for playing music. I walked on at this point, and when I looked back they were headed towards the metro center. I hesitated, then ran and caught up to them at the Santa Cruz Metro Center just as their bus pulled up.

The guitar player told me about when he had first played at the spot in front of the Rit, and that a SCPD officer had told him that if, "he moved just four feet down the street he would be 'golden.'" He also told me that he had a previous encounter with the officer (who had just written him the citation) where the officer had made it clear that the location where the guitar player was playing was fine (which was that spot in the photo in front of the Rit). The guitar player told me these two stories in the context of him feeling harassed by the multiple communications with SCPD officers about playing music. He also said that he thought this last experience with the SCPD was harassment and 'fake' because the officer did not call in his information when writing the citation, and that the citation for 'playing music' was motivated when he asked for the officer's badge number during the writing of the dog citation. He said that they were planning on leaving town and that this was the final push. During the whole event, he told me several times he thought he was being cited for playing music.

I asked to see the citations that he and his friend received. The guitar player was 21, his address was listed as "transient", and he was cited for "Panhandling within 50 feet of a change machine." His friend showed me his citation, which read "Dog License required." The friend told me in a very abstract manner that he was actually a Hawaiian priest, and that nothing that had just happened, or that the police officer had said, mattered in any way, though he did feel inconvenienced. They then boarded the SCM bus and left.

After inspecting the photo I took of the two men more closely, I found that a small written message is visible in the guitar player's case, "All we need is $1.25."

"All we need is $1.25"

I originally published this on Indybay.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Save the Knoll - Grant Park Meeting, August 21, 2011

On August 21, 2011 the Save the Knoll Coalition hosted a bbq and meeting at Grant Park in Santa Cruz. Speaking at the event were Charlene Sul, A CSU Monterey Professor and head of the Confederation of Ohlone People, and Ann Marie Sayers, who was named "Most Likely Descendant" of the Native American remains found August 2 at the construction site on the Knoll near Market Street Field in Santa Cruz. This was Sayers' first time speaking to community members about the issues, and she continued to urge that all earth moving be supended at the construction site operated by KB Home.

Charlene Sul (left), Ann Marie Sayers (center)

Grant Park

Also see:

For more info:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Week of Protests at Ohlone Burial Site in Santa Cruz - August 19, 2011

Local resident Autumn Sun, next to the Knoll

On August 19, 2011, with the archaeologoical work ongoing, protests continued for a sixth straight day at the Ohlone village and burial site near Branciforte Creek in Santa Cruz. Protestors are now asking that community members sign a petition which seeks to permanently protect the site. The petition is available at the KB Home construction site on Market Street/5 Isbel Dr, or by signing it online:
Save the Knoll Petition

 That previous Tuesday, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that plans remained unclear for the site, and Ann Marie Sayers, who has been named the most likely descendent, was quoted as saying, "I would love to see (the land) purchased by people who understand what sacredness is...KB Homes should donate it to the city or the county so it would remain open and no more burials be disturbed."

Friday, August 19, 2:30pm - Local resident Autumn Sun had started protesting at the construction site at 9am that day, collecting petition signatures and handing out fliers. He was also at the 1975 occupation of the Ohlone burial ground Wounded Lee (in Watsonville) that was eventually protected from development.

Also see:
For more info:
I originally published portions of this at Indybay.

Save the Knoll March, August 14, 2011

At 12:30 pm on August 14, 2011, approximately 100 community members gathered at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Laurel Street in Santa Cruz to express outrage about the new KB Home development on Market Street.

On August 2, the remains of a Native American child were unearthed at the Market Street site by construction crews hired by KB Home. The remains are now in the posession of the California Native American Heritage Commission, which believes that Ann Marie Sayers, an Ohlone woman living at Indian Canyon in Hollister, is the "Most Likely Descendant." Sayers has been present at the burial site observing further archaeological work, but she has called for all earth moving to be halted.

During the march, community members made their way down Pacific Avenue to the Town Clock for a stop, and then marched down Water Street and Ocean Street to Grant Street Park where a short demonstration and prayer ceremony was held. Speeches were made by Corrina Gould, a Chochenyo Ohlone, and Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo a Miwok from Vallejo. Two police motorcycle patrols on Hubbard Street observed the marchers and followed the demonstration to Grant Street by using the backstreets.

Pacific Avenue

At the Town Clock

Ocean Street

Marchers then made their way from Grant Park to the Market Street construction site owned by KB Home. While at the construction site, another prayer ceremony was held, and a private security agent arrived. Approximately 10 minutes later a SCPD patrol vehicle arrived, and the officer called for back up, which brought two or three more patrol vehicles.

Market Street

Marchers enter the construction site

The prayer ceremony lasted for approximately 20 minutes, at which point the demonstrators left the construction site without incident and made their way back towards downtown. During the prayer ceremony, it was asked that no photography take place. The police were asked to respect this also, on religious grounds, but an officer continued to take pictures.

Police photographing the prayer ceremony

The concept of 'trespassing' was discussed during the prayer ceremony, but many if not most of the demonstrators were unclear as to whether or not they were trespassing at the construction site.
During the prayer ceremony, questions were put to the community: "What would you do if these were your ancestors? What would other people in the community do if the graves or burial grounds of their relatives were to have homes built on top of them? Another speaker during the prayer ceremony said that this was about saving the places where, "we can pray." In Santa Cruz, the Market Street site is that place.

Community members are asking for either the city to buy the property or for KB Home to donate it so that it can be preserved as a sacred site for people to pray and gather at.

For more info:

I originally published portions of this at Indybay and The Santa Cruz Wiki.