Resolution adopted March 24, 2019 by a general membership vote.
Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America (SV DSA) stands together with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in opposition to profit-driven “development” that threatens Amah Mutsun sacred sites and burials. In particular, SV DSA stands in solidarity with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in its opposition to the proposed Sargent Quarry on the land traditionally known as Juristac.
SV DSA supports Amah Mutsun land stewardship efforts. We recognize the moral authority of the Tribal Band to speak for and care for its ancestral lands. We recognize the right of the Tribal Band to continue its traditional ceremonies and cultural practices on those lands. We recognize the Tribal Band’s right to access those lands in order to steward, tend, and gather the native plants that are essential to Amah Mutsun culture.
SV DSA commits to put time, energy and other resources to this cause. We commit to take ongoing action in support of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and in opposition to the proposed Sargent Quarry. We hereby direct the SV DSA Ecosocialist Working Group to determine and carry out appropriate actions in support of these objectives.
There is only one Juristac
The vast majority of the thousands of recorded Indigenous cultural and burial sites in Santa Clara County have been wholly or partly destroyed by non-Indigenous economic “development.” Juristac is unique because the area for the proposed quarry remains relatively intact and untouched.
In Amah Mutsun tradition, the land known as Juristac is an incredibly important sacred site, home of the spiritual being known as Kuksui. For this reason, the area was a major ceremonial center. At least four villages existed in the area; human burials, ritual artifacts, and other cultural remains likely lie under the surface of this pristine land. In Amah Mutsun tradition, the destruction of a sacred space carries consequences beyond what Western religious or materialist thought is likely to consider relevant. Likewise, traditional Amah Mutsun beliefs held that disturbing or destroying human remains could harm or destroy the afterlife of the deceased. For centuries, the dignity of Indigenous beliefs has been attacked, considered inferior in relevance to other Western religious and philosophical traditions. Destroying Juristac would continue this tradition of chauvinistic cultural imperialism.
The ecological effects of the Sargent Quarry would also be profoundly negative. Juristac is home to threatened endemic species. It contains unique ecosystems and several distinct biomes. It contains marshland and a tributary of the Pajaro River. Situated at the extreme southeast of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it also constitutes an important wildlife corridor connecting several different bioregions. The proposed mining plan is therefore dangerous not only for the ecology of the land in question, but also for the ecology of Central California as a whole. Sargent Quarry would level sacred hills and excavate hundreds of feet into the ground. Large quantities of groundwater will be pumped in order to facilitate quarrying activities, likely increasing groundwater salinity in the area. Provisions for the Sargent Quarry also allow for oil extraction on part of the property, near the already ecologically degraded Pajaro River, which empties into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band represents an Indigenous community of people who have inhabited territory in what is today known as the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area for thousands of years. As part of a larger group of communities of people collectively referred to as Ohlone, the Amah Mutsun have been subjected to multiple cycles of genocide and ethnocide since the 18th century, the effects of which are still present today. Throughout this period, Amah Mutsun traditions of land tenure/stewardship and traditional social structures have been subjugated and the Amah Mutsun have been largely alienated from their ancestral lands. Colonized successively by Spain, Mexico, and the United States, the Amah Mutsun experienced forced removal from their ancestral lands, only to have those same lands expropriated, privatized, and occupied by settlers. Denied federal recognition, the Amah Mutsun do not possess reservation lands. Legalized racial violence and discrimination contributed to high rates of poverty and economic alienation among the Amah Mutsun, who often had to hide their ethnic identity and work itinerant jobs for those who now controlled the land. Today, urban sprawl has damaged or destroyed thousands of Amah Mutsun cultural sites; yet many Amah Mutsun cannot afford housing on their own ancestral lands.
As democratic socialists, we assert that the proposed Sargent Quarry would represent a continuation of a pattern of economic development rooted in a colonial system. A system in which communally managed Indigenous land was depopulated, privatized, and exploited in such a way that a very small number of non-Indigenous people profited immensely, while leaving a damaged environment that poorer residents or public agencies have to manage. In the process, human and ecological links to the past and prospects for continued healthy future are destroyed. The land speculators (based outside of the Bay Area) who have acquired legal rights to Juristac stand to profit immensely if the permit for the Sargent Quarry is approved, as the market value of the land will increase exponentially. In the spirit of ecosocialism, we stand in solidarity with Amah Mutsun efforts to challenge the pattern of profit-centered, exploitative, ecologically devastating economic “development” that has dominated the local region for over two centuries. The involvement of Indigenous ecological knowledge and holistic ethics is necessary on a global scale to help counterbalance market-driven interests that threaten the environment.