Dear Friends, and others,
Below is an edited sampling of responses I received to The Opposing View email and phone message copied below.
My goal from the beginning has been to get the main Volvon Village recognized as an important connection to understanding California history, pre conquest.
I’m still working on it.
Volvon Village on Mount Diablo
artist: John Finger
I think she explained it pretty well. And for I who work with archeologists and Nor Cal tribes she is correct! The tribes know of these sites. They are sacred, they don’t want just anyone visiting and there are preparations and ceremonies one must partake in prior.
Does the opposition ever give reasons why they want this culture to be lost, forgotten and buried forever? It seems like they’re part of Native American eradication. You’re probably winning protections for these places due to you making this a public issue.
Easy to understand her view. Thanks to your website and your book, I, my family, and friends have hiked to sites mentioned in your book and viewed them with reverence and a deep appreciation for the stewardship provided by our indigenous forebears. It’s obvious in your website and publications that you have the same approach.
The tribe’s secret culture and the fact that they might not want everybody to know where the sites are is critical, though ought not be determinative, regardless of how people feel about things.
Personally, I bridle at tribal demands for exclusive control of archeological finds, such as Kenniwick Man up in Washington.
I, too, share concerns about vandalism.
Stay the course, her argument doesn’t hold water. Speaking for myself, the few times I’ve been to the sites (Volvon Village area) has expanded my consciousness about who I am and my own relationship with the earth, physically and spiritually. IMO, we are meant to discover and appreciate these sites
I am so sorry to read of this .
The increasing Fascism and activities of Thought Police is most disturbing.
No way should they attack your right to publish on the internet per se.
No need to reply – you can do much better with your valuable time.
Just keep rocking.
But the cows can literally shit all over the sites, because that helps protect them?
The question to her then is, how do we learn and go inward to the place of ceremonial connection, as the indigenous did, to honor and sustain human harmonious living?
Have you appealed to Greg Castro, Corrrina Gould, Malcom Margolin for what I have been told is more or less “The Tribe’s” guidance on
this? Hopefully, they are as wise as needs be.
Tell that genocidal racist tramp she works for us.
I understand your intentions are good but at this point it is embarrassing to see your unwillingness to listen to the living native peoples about their own sacred land. It’s a bad look.
At this point I am unsubscribing from your newsletter, I hope you are able to listen and compromise in the future.
Although I selfishly appreciate you posting many of the locations, I do agree with Theodora regarding the protections of these sites. I most worry about the cave locations becoming more public.
It is certainly an ethical double edge sword. I appreciate your love of our local history and the awareness that it draws, but it will come at a cost.
I concur with your approach. It is a complex problem, Maybe I could be convinced otherwise, but I don’t agree that indigenous peoples can exclude the rest of us from our shared history any more than I think that I have a right to ban “outsiders” from my historically native lands back in England. Those ships have moved on.
Spelling is a little off. Here’s the correct spelling of her name. Fuerstenberg. Thank you for your work.
I am grateful for the disclosure you make so we can see these places.
They are important and deserve being shared.
Other fields of history interest me and I am pained by the balancing act people go through regarding disclosure helping thieves and vandals versus hiding this information from the public. People are curious and want to know. Some will misbehave.
Many locations are pretty safe. The worst which can be done is tagging.
Thank you for the things you do. You are the generous one. The High Priests are the selfish ones. Try not to let them get to you.
I just wanted to let you know you have my complete support in your fight against those who want to shut your site down. I love what you do and regularly use the info you’ve put in your database. It enhances my hiking enjoyment immensely.
I just want to commend your work and your steadfast belief that what you do is worthwhile and beneficial.
I sure have a lot more appreciation for the original inhabitants thanks to your sharing. I had no idea that they were everywhere around here, that this area was fully occupied, that their villages were so large. It gives me new eyes to see the landscape.
I am sorry that this has happened.. I had no idea Mount Diablo had such a rich history, and now when I drive by on the freeway it gives me a thrill to know what is up there.
I would hope that native heritage people would want to work with you.
Thank you for all that you have shared. I hope it can continue.
I once again commend you for your research and sharing your knowledge of our past in the Bay Area has only brought me to a better understanding and appreciation of their culture.
It has never been about holes in a rock and whether or not someone will damage them, but instead the magic and unexplainable feeling of the life in these places.
As it happens, I just returned from Washington, DC where I purchased a 2023 book “Native American History of Washington, DC.” Reading it, I’m struck by the difference between the approach there and here.
The book’s forwards by a Piscataway Conoy Chief and a Piscataway Matriarch thank the author unequivocally for publishing the kind of information you’re being excoriated for,
Kaaknu the Volvon
artist: John Finger
The Opposing View email
Every now and then (although very seldom)
I get messages along these lines (attached) and I’m very aware of these feelings,
although not aware of all the laws I may be breaking.
As stated in my “blurb” on our website (Resources, The Stark Disconnect, To Whom It May Concern)
“The coordinated, calculated, clandestine policy of suppressing knowledge of Native American Indian sites is to my mind an injustice that needs to be corrected.
As a starting point to change this culture, which I feel materially diminishes the importance of our shared California history and heritage, I am posting short articles on the attached Travelogue/Blog at www.eastbayhillpeople.com.
I believe the public needs to experience these sites in order to understand their importance and relevance to our lives today.”
Attached is the phone message I received recently from Theodora Firstenberg.
I did call her back and tried to explain my position.
I assured her that when I receive a final Court Judgement I will take down the website.
Her response “Typical White Man”.
Hi James Benney,
I’m calling to give you a heads up that a lot of archaeologists and tribal groups are trying to get your website taken down because you are giving out information illegally about archaeological site locations.
We understand that you know this based on the blurb you gave in your website about what you’re against but you’re violating sections 6253, 6254, 6254.10 of the California Code and also the California Public Records Act government code 52.5 and California’s open reading laws to protect the confidentialities of Native American culture place information.
Also there’s extension three of the Freedom of Information act 5 and USD five.
The whole point of this is that I understand that you want to protect the sites but that’s not going about this right way.
My name is Theodora Firstenberg and I’m an archaeologist for the National Oceanic Administration.
I’m not calling on behalf of them I’m just letting you know that decision is not OK that you have these site locations posted for anyone to see. It’s not even about vandalism, it’s about the tribe’s secret culture and the fact that they might not want everybody to know where the sites are because it doesn’t help protect them at all. There’s processes that help protect them.
You can call me back if you want but really I’m just trying to give you a heads up that there’s a lot of reasons that this is not OK and there’s a concerted effort to make you stop sharing these locations.
Please consider this. Thank you.