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File #: 2022-2512   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 12/6/2022
Title: Listening Session and Partnership Opportunities with Local Indigenous People and Ohlone Tribes. (Recreation 10051400)
Attachments: 1. Presentation - Confederated Villages of Lisjan, 2. Presentation - Muwekma Ohlone, 3. Correspondence - Updated 12/6



Listening Session and Partnership Opportunities with Local Indigenous People and Ohlone Tribes. (Recreation 10051400)



To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council




During the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-23 City Council budget discussion of the Shuumi Tax, City Council members expressed interest to conduct more community education about Indigenous peoples and encourage discussion with local Tribes.  Staff invited representatives from three local Ohlone Tribes who have historical ties to this land that is now called the City of Alameda. They were invited to present their history, thoughts and perspectives and asked to engage in a discussion with members of the City Council and community on ways the City can support and partner with local Indigenous Tribes.




In the FY 2021-23 budget, the City Council approved funding $11,000 each fiscal year for a Shuumi Tax to the Sogorea Te Land Trust and with City Council direction to implement community education regarding local Indigenous peoples and engage in conversation with local Ohlone Tribes.


Staff invited representatives from three different tribal entities, each with historical ties to the land now called Alameda and all are people who are actively engaged in Indigenous work in the East Bay.  The outreach included representatives from the Ohlone Tribe, the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the SF Bay Area (Muwekma Tribe), and the Confederated Villages of Lisjan (Lisjan Tribe).  Presenters were asked to speak to their unique history and perspectives as well as participate in a discussion with the City Council on how best to engage and develop meaningful partnerships between the City of Alameda (City) and the Tribes.  The goal for this discussion is ideally a relationship of honest, continued engagement and dialogue with local Indigenous peoples. 




Current and recent partnerships with Indigenous People include:


                     Renaming the park formerly known as Jackson Park to Chochenyo Park in 2020 through consultation with the Lisjan Tribe.


                     The Shuumi Land Tax to the Sogorea Te Land Trust (a partner of the Lisjan Tribe), funded in the FY 2021-23 budget in the amount of $11,000 each fiscal year.  The Shuumi Land Tax was implemented as a way for people, businesses and institutions to pay a “tax”, which is actually a donation, to recognize that we live on traditional Ohlone territory.  The funds are used to support their efforts to purchase land, grown medicinal gardens and support those tribal members in need. 


                     The Lisjan Tribe is part of San Leandro Bay/Alameda/Oakland Adaptation Working Group and is a member of the steering committee.  Funding was included in recent grant applications to support their inclusion and efforts.


Potential Partnership Opportunities:


                     Land Acknowledgement. This is a practice to open each City Council meeting by “acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the land.”  Reference: <>  This action requires the City and residents to listen and become educated about Indigenous People to give the acknowledgement meaning and understanding.


                     Recognize the Ohlone peoples as the original inhabitants of the City and commit to working in partnership with the Ohlone peoples. This could be through a City Council resolution (such as was done by the City of Berkeley) and could also include adding verbiage to City signage, website and other marketing.


                     Cultural Conservation Easement. This is a mechanism to grant permanent rights to a Tribe to preserve the land, hold ceremonial and celebratory events, possibly have a medicinal or native plant garden, and provide public education.  None of these preclude public use of the land and are an opportunity for the public to learn about the Ohlone culture.


                     Identify Locations for a Native and/or Medicinal Garden managed by a local Ohlone Tribe. There are opportunities and potential locations for a garden, particularly at Main Street Linear Park or at Sweeney Park in conjunction with or adjacent to a community garden.   Another potential opportunity is the tule plants located at Main Street Linear Park. The Lisjan Tribe has requested a use or maintenance agreement so they may manage, cultivate and harvest these plants while expanding the landscaped area to add more California native, drought tolerant plants. 


                     Create a local policy regarding how to manage shellmound remains found during development.  There are existing State policies that provide a minimal process but a local policy could provide a more respectful and accessible process to local Ohlone Tribes.


                     Create an Action Plan to raise awareness of Native American history and culture in Alameda. Ideas could include supporting the Alameda Unified School District as it update its social studies curriculum; partner to develop youth programs and education utilizing Chochenyo Park or a garden area as a cornerstone; incorporate Native American history, culture and local Tribes in the City’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging work; invite Native American authors to speak and participate with Alameda Free Library events; include a requirement in the Alameda Museum contract agreement with the City to develop, expand and display Indigenous Peoples collections.  Some concepts are already being implemented including adding Native American music and dance to City events such as the Storytelling and Drumming Festival and incorporating books about and by Native American authors in the Alameda Free Library collection.


                     Support a petition to the U.S. Government for federal recognition.  The Muwekma Tribe is seeking federal recognition and the City could consider ways it can support that effort.


It is important to note that the City may explore different collaborations with the various local Ohlone Tribes and partner in each in different ways.


Questions City Council may consider to facilitate discussion:

                     Would you share your history and perspective on current and future challenges local Indigenous peoples face in places such as Alameda?

                     From your perspective, how do you think the City of Alameda and its residents could best build relationships, support, celebrate and engage with Indigenous organizations and people whose history connects to Alameda?

                     Would you share ideas on ways in which the City can make our community feel safe and inclusive for Indigenous peoples.

                     What are the challenges with the State system when a shellmound or Indigenous human remains are discovered as part of a development?  Would you share ideas on how local policies can improve the process to better support local Tribes?




                     Provide direction to staff to bring to City Council a work plan on any of the listed partnership ideas, specific actions or policies.

                     Consider other collaborative concepts and provide direction to staff.




There is no financial impact to the City from holding this listening session with local Indigenous peoples.  However, some of the proposed partnership idea may require financial contributions from the City that would be subject to future City Council approval.




This action is consistent with the Alameda Municipal Code.




This action is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it is not a project which has a potential for resulting in either a direct physical change in the environment, pursuant to Guideline section 15378.




There are no identifiable climate impacts or climate action opportunities associated with the subject of this report.




Listening Session and Partnership Opportunities with Local Indigenous People and Ohlone Tribes.


Respectfully submitted,

Amy Wooldridge, Assistant City Manager


Financial Impact section reviewed,

Margaret O’Brien, Finance Director



cc:                     Erin Smith, City Manager