SF supervisors could acknowledge Ramaytush Ohlone at every meeting

A proposal introduced Tuesday would have the Board of Supervisors president read a statement at the start of every meeting...

A proposal introduced Tuesday would have the Board of Supervisors president read a statement at the start of every meeting acknowledging that they are guests of the Ramaytush Ohlone, who were the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced the board motion during National Native American Heritage Month but the statement would be read at the start of every Tuesday’s board meeting.

A board committee is expected to hold a hearing on the proposal in the coming weeks.

“This is a time when we must not only celebrate the diverse traditions, histories and contributions of the Native people but also engage in the critical work of recognizing and repairing generations of harm caused to Native communities at the hands of our own government institutions,” Ronen said.

She said that “it is undeniable that our own City of San Francisco has been complicit in the marginalization of Native people from promoting culturally offensive artwork, statues and monuments that represent the conquest and genocide of Native Americans to the systematic underfunding of Native American Indian organizations.”

The board starts each meeting with the president calling the meeting to order then the board clerk takes roll call of who is in attendance. They then do the pledge of allegiance. Afterwards, the proposal would then have the board president read a statement acknowledging the Ramaytush Ohlone community.

The statement reads:

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors acknowledges that we are on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone who are the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula. As the indigenous stewards of this land and in accordance with their traditions, the Ramaytush Ohlone have never ceded, lost, nor forgotten their responsibilities as the caretakers of this place, as well as for all peoples who reside in their traditional territory. As guests, we recognize that we benefit from living and working on their traditional homeland. We wish to pay our respects by acknowledging the Ancestors, Elders, and Relatives of the Ramaytush Ohlone community and by affirming their sovereign rights as First Peoples.

The idea for the statement was brought to the board by Gregg Castro of the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone, and Sharaya Souza, board director of San Francisco’s American Indian Cultural District.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin has backed the proposal.

“I look forward to this being the new way we start each and every meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” he said.

Peskin said that some state agencies issue similar statements, which he experienced when he previously served on the Coastal Commission, a state body which meets in locations up and down the California coast.

“In each and every place the chair of that body would acknowledge the Native peoples and thank them for allowing us to be on their lands,” Peskin said.

Ronen said that a similar statement may be read before other city boards and commissions, under an effort being worked on by the Human Rights Commission.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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