On February 1, as a part of their study of the Ohlone American Indians, third graders welcomed two guest speakers: Corrina Gould and Darcie Houck. They talked about issues facing the Ohlone community today in order to authentically represent American Indian groups and to debunk the myth that American Indians are "stuck in the past."
For example, the third graders learned that the Ohlone have been fighting for several decades to gain tribal recognition from the U.S. government. Additionally, much of their ancestral land, including burial grounds, has been turned into commercial developments, such as Bay Street in Emeryville. The third graders have become passionate about learning more about the injustices faced by the Ohlone, and began a letter-writing campaign to petition the Bureau of Indian Affairs to recognize the Ohlone.
Corrina Gould (pictured) is Chochenyo Ohlone and a cofounder of Indian People Organizing for Change, an organization dedicated to environmental and social justice issues impacting Bay Area American Indian communities. It is currently fighting to preserve the Emeryville Shellmounds, the sacred burial sites of the Ohlone Nation on which Bay Street stands. Corrina also works at the American Indian Child Resource Center, a nonprofit serving urban American Indian children and their families. She started the first-ever women-led indigenous land trust in an effort to preserve Ohlone land and traditions. Corrina was featured in the PBS documentary Beyond Recognition.
Darcie Houck is an attorney with Frederick, Peebles, & Morgan, a Sacramento-based law firm that represents American Indian tribes throughout the U.S. She has worked closely with the Ohlone community in the Bay Area.
Darcie broke down the complicated, expensive, lengthy, and largely unfair process a tribe must navigate to gain federal recognition by the government. Corrina shared her personal experience fighting to preserve the Emeryville Shellmounds. She challenged the students to learn about the communities who have lived on this land for thousands of years, and to consider how our actions can impact those communities. She also reminded us, “Nothing in nature needs humans to survive, but humans need everything in nature to survive.” We know the third graders will take these messages out to the larger Burke’s community and beyond.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.