Coast Miwok tribe members assembled in Fairfax on Saturday to promote plans for a cultural center through the reacquisition of ancestral land.
Fairfax Anti-Racist Flock, a group of residents working to dismantle systemic racism, organized the fundraising and speaking event at Bolinas Park.
Organizers suggested participants give $10 to $20 donations to fund the center. The proceeds will be donated to the Coast Miwok speakers and the tribal council.
A land acknowledgment campaign was also launched as a step toward recognizing Coast Miwok as the traditional stewards of Marin, which was separated into tribelets.
A tribelet is a small group of native people who share a language, geography and resources but are their own distinct people. The Coast Miwok had 13 tribelets in Marin.
Tribal council member Dean Hoagland said 80,000 acres of land was taken from his ancestors illegally, and getting some of that back is the first step in healing.
“I envision a cultural center to have our own traditional medicine, organic garden space for education, environmental traditions and ecological knowledge shared,” Hoagland said at the event. “So much can be done with that, like sharing our living culture with you all. But it starts with that land and having that space.”
Joe Sanchez, a Coast Miwok descendant, said that after his ancestors were baptized they became wards of the church and were forbidden to return to their tribal grounds.
“The first thing Junípero Serra said about my ancestors is that they walk around naked but have no shame, like Adam in Eden,” Sanchez said, referring to the 18th-century Catholic priest who founded nine of California’s missions. “Then what did he do? He made slaves out of them.”
“They had to stay in the church to tend cattle, work agriculture and build the mission,” he said. “That mission in San Rafael stands in Coast Miwok land that was taken away.”
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