Pagan Chaplain Speaks Out on Native Sacred Lands, Heads to Amman, Jordan for Cross-Cultural Dialog Conference

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 20, 2011 — 3 Comments

Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum, who is involved in a high-profile case involving the rights of Pagans and religious minorities in California’s prisons, participated at a demonstration in Vallejo, California to protect a Native American sacred gathering place and burial ground called Glen Cove (or Sogorea Te in Karkin Ohlone language). The City of Vallejo is working to develop the land into a recreational park, something that the local Native American community has been opposed to.

Patrick McCollum with demonstrators.

On July 12th, over 100 people converged on the steps of Vallejo City Hall to bring a strong and clear message to City Council, which was holding closed session meeting regarding the future of the sacred burial ground known as Sogorea Te (Glen Cove). Demonstrators arrived an hour before the scheduled meeting, gathering together around the drum to sing before entering the council chambers. […] Demonstrators patiently sat through almost four hours of City Council discourse on matters such as a proposed tax related to marijuana sales, awaiting the opportunity to further speak about Sogorea Te during the final Community Forum. By the end of the meeting at around 11:30pm, eighteen speakers had shared their deeply held convictions about the need to protect and respect the sacred grounds of Sogorea Te. Late-night speakers included Corrina Gould (Ohlone), Li Pono, Galeson Eaglestar (Oglala Lakota), Michelle Steinberg, Reverend Patrick McCollum, Dr. Barbara McGraw, Antonio Gonzalez (Seri), Sam Kirsham, Perry Matlock, LeRoy Cisneros, Zak Alvarez, Morning Star Gali (Pit River) and Mark Anquoe (Kiowa).

The Protect Glen Cove site has transcripts and video from many of those who spoke at the Vallejo City Council meeting, though not from McCollum. However, you can watch the entire proceedings of the meeting, here (Microsoft Silverlight plugin required). Patrick begins speaking at 4:30:00. During the talk, McCollum was emphatic that Circle Sanctuary, and his supporters, stood with Native American activists on this issue.

McCollum addressing the City Council.

You can find out more about the Glen Cove struggle, here. As for McCollum, he’s already on his way to Amman, Jordan to participate in a global conference on conflict resolution and cross-cultural dialog.

“On July 19, 2011 Patrick McCollum will travel to Amman, Jordan to speak at the first International Conference on Transforming Conflict. The conference, which is endorsed and sponsored by King Abdullah II, the Jordanian Government, and over 100 universities and organizations internationally, will focus on equipping the current and next generation to build capacity for proactive citizen leadership, constructive relationships, and a culture of peace. Drawing on the Patrick McCollum Foundation mission, Patrick will address youth and adults from the Middle East on ways to transform seemingly irreconcilable clashes of cultures and ideologies into alliances to create a better and more sustainable world. Patrick’s address will emphasize that we (the world citizens) must each learn to see and respect the inherent sacredness within one another and the unique sacredness of our diversity in culture, spirituality, and religion in order to achieve peace.”

McCollum has been doing a great deal of international travel lately, a humanitarian mission in Nepal, a goodwill/interfaith gathering in Thailand, and a spiritual forum in Kazakhstan; becoming an increasingly global figure within modern Paganism. We wish McCollum well as he continues his mission to advocate for Pagan faiths, works for the rights of indigenous and minority faiths, and pursues peace.

ADDENDUM: The Committee to Protect Glen Cove has announced a victory in the struggle to protect the sacred grounds of Glen Cove.

“Yesterday, the Yocha Dehe and Cortina tribes established a cultural easement and settlement agreement with the City of Vallejo and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD). The agreement sets a legal precedent for granting Native peoples jurisdiction over their sacred sites and ancestral lands. The cultural easement forever guarantees that the Yocha Dehe and Cortina tribes will have legal oversight in all activities taking place on the sacred burial grounds of Sogorea Te/Glen Cove. It also represents a significant step forward in enacting tribal sovereignty, as the first such easement under CA Senate Bill 18 to be negotiated at the city and recreational district levels.”

Congratulations to the defenders of Glen Cove!

Jason Pitzl-Waters