Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced legislation seeking to acknowledge the original Indigenous inhabitants of San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced legislation seeking to acknowledge the original Indigenous inhabitants of San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes to acknowledge Ramaytush Ohlone community at every meeting

Beginning next week, the Board of Supervisors will read at the start of each meeting a statement acknowledging the Ramaytush Ohlone community.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s legislation requiring the board president to read the statement was approved unanimously.

The statement begins with the acknowledgement “that we are on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone who are the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula.”

“I will be proud to recite these words for the Board of Supervisors as the first person to do this next week,” Board President Norman Yee said.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that “I think they are very,very important words that remind us what land mass we are sitting on, who the First Peoples were.”

Sharaya Souza, executive director of San Francisco’s American Indian Cultural District, told a board committee recently that when the statement is read it should serve as “a reminder that we are here and a reminder of those survivors, those few folks that came from the original thousands of the Ramaytush Ohlone and that we are alive and that folks don’t continue to talk about us in the past.”

“Our community has been pushing this for a really long time and this is just now gaining momentum,” Souza said. “It’s been in the works for generations and just today we are doing this. I hope that this is a starting point to greater conversations that really need to be had.”

Ronen said at the same committee meeting that “we must not only celebrate the histories and contributions of Native people but also engage in the critical work of recognizing and repairing the generations of harm caused to Native communities at the hands of our own government institutions.”

She said that the statement was authored and approved by members of the Ramaytush Ohlone community, including Gregg Castro, a board member of the American Indian Cultural District.

“It is undeniable that our own city of San Francisco has been complicit in the marginalization of Native people, from promoting cultural offensive artwork, statues and monuments that represent the conquest and genocide of Native Americans, to the systemic underfunding of American Indian organizations,” Ronen said.

The statement that will be read at the start of all future board meetings follows:

“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.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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