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No Quarrys On Amah Mutsun Sacred Grounds

Phyllis Bala

protect juristac

Here is the link to the Amah Mutsun tribal band:, whose sacred mountain is Mt. Umunhum or affectionately known by locals as Mt. Um.  In the language of the Ohlone peoples the name means "the resting place of the hummingbird".  It is the fourth highest peak in the Santa Cruz mountains of California in Santa Clara County, just south of San Jose.

Sacred Ground Community Education and Resource Center in Occidental actively supports the Amah Mutsun tribal band in their quest to protect their sacred ceremonial site which is slated to be destroyed by strip mining operations in Santa Clara County.  I have  promised the Amah Mutsun Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez that I would introduce this matter to those in my community and at Sacred Ground and make the petition available for all to sign who are interested.

Below please find a copy of Molly's letter to the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on behalf of the Amah Mutsun tribe.  It regards their struggle to stop open pit mining on their oldest traditional ceremonial ground in Santa Clara, CA.

Some of you may remember Molly when she visited us during a critical juncture with No DAPL, when we went to pray among the trees at our little Grove of Old Trees, beyond Coleman Valley Road last year.  Molly has worked in an honorable way to be able to show up in humble dignity with a truly open heart as a descendant of two historical male figures responsible for having committed genocide in North America.  She is doing her utmost, going forward building bridges of peace and reconciliation..  This is courageous work that takes a great deal of bravery and self-empathy with each step.  I admire and support that kind of rare and dignified strength of character. 

This is her letter:

Molly Fay Vallejo McGettigan Arthur,
6th generation descendent of California Spanish Conquistadors
Co-convener, Elder Activists for Social Justice, Conscious Elders Network
Associate of the Society of the Sacred Heart, San Francisco

October 29, 2017

Clerk of the Board of Supervisors
Board of Supervisors, Santa Clara County
70 West Hedding Street, East Wing, 10th Floor
San Jose, CA 95110

Dear County Board of Supervisors,

I have just learned that the most Sacred Site of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is under threat of a surface mining proposal.  The site I refer to is “Juristac”, “place of the Big Head”, now known as Sargent Ranch. Now these Sacred Mountains could be reduced to an extractive sand and gravel mining operation, a tremendous open pit- tangible evidence of the continuing adulteration of our Mother Earth, persecution of its original inhabitants and perpetration of harm to all future generations.

To allow the desecration of this site by allowing mining on it would be an abominable decision by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. The State of California, from its very beginnings, has ignored the rights of its indigenous peoples, stealing their lands, destroying their sacred sites, undermining their cultures and financing genocidal campaigns of murder (paying bounties for their scalps and getting reimbursed by the federal government). It is time to finally recognize this history, put a stop to the current perpetration of harm that a quarry pit imposes on the sacred land and start to respect the state’s first people as followers of  their Creator's instruction to care for Mother Earth as stewards and protectors. Let us see our government bodies recognize that caring rather than harming is what is right for our common good- for which you are elected. This public trust impels you to act to protect rather than to allow further desecration and dishonor. 

As a descendant of the original colonizers of California- the persecutors, oppressors and enslavers of the California Indians, within the Mission system that imprisoned the Amah Mutsun tribe in your two local missions- San Juan Baptista and Santa Cruz, I renounce the actions of those ancestors as never justifiable.  I work to stop the on-going current harms (like this mining site) and endeavor to change our world to a much better place for my grandchildren and all our grandchildren. I fully support the vision and mission of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, rather than the beliefs and mindset of dominance of my ancestors:

 Our Amah Mutsun Land Trust continues to work hard to fulfill our goals of conserving and restoring indigenous culture and natural resources within our traditional territories; researching and educating about the traditional ecological knowledge that our ancestors developed and followed for thousands of years; and stewarding our lands to ensure a resilient future for Mother Earth and all living things.. 

 I would hope that the elected officials who hold the future of our next generations in their hands recognize their responsibilities to them. Your action is to stop this mining operation cold, in perpetuity, protecting us all, and that should be done with the Amah Mutsun in a joint effort to reclaim their sacred site, Juristac, for their benefit and everybody else's.

With recognition of our responsibilities and blessings on our work,

 Molly Fay Vallejo McGettigan Arthur

Here is a link from the tribe about their sacred place: