October 04, 2008

Tree-sitters give up

UC-Berkeley tree protest closes with ceremonyAfter 649 days perched atop a redwood, the last tree-sitters surrendered their protest of University of California–Berkeley’s plan to chop down a tree grove to build a sports training center.

The world watched. As did such activists as Morning Star Gali, a Pit River member and community activist, with sadness and regret. It was not how she had hoped the standoff to end.

Gali and other Natives had been trying to negotiate with university officials. The old-growth tree grove was also the site of an Ohlone burial ground where UC Berkeley anthropologists have documented evidence of two shell mound sites that contained 18 human remains.
And:After 21 months living in redwood, oak and other trees, the last four tree-sitters had agreed to come down if university officials would include the community in future land-use decisions.

The tree-sitters had asked the university to donate $6 million to environmental and Native groups and provide Natives the stump from the 200-year-old “Grandmother Tree” in the 1.2-acre grove so that they could make a drum. But officials withdrew the offer of the stump after the tree-sitters descended, Gali said, and denied Natives access to the grove for prayer.

The university’s actions “are in violation of international law. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that indigenous people have the right to free, prior and informed consent before any actions are taken with regard to sacred lands,” Gali said.
Comment:  Preserving an Indian burial site seems like a legitimate cause. Preserving a tree stump so you can make it into a drum doesn't.

For more on the subject, see Berkeley's Peter Pan Protest.

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