Acknowledging the past and building relationships with Berkeley’s indigenous community for a better future.
At its January 20, 2022 meeting, the Berkeley Rent Board unanimously voted to adopt a land acknowledgement statement. Chair Leah Simon-Weisberg, Commissioner Paola Laverde, and Commissioner Mari Mendonca brought the item, writing: “The acknowledgement requires each community to take institutional time to remember the devastation upon which our cities were established and be consistently reminded that this land was stolen and the indigenous people of Berkeley are still with us.”
The land acknowledgement statement, which is now included on all Rent Board and committee meeting agendas and is read aloud before meetings, states:
The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board recognizes that the rental housing units we regulate are built on the territory of xučyun (Huchiun-(Hooch-yoon)), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo (Cho-chen-yo)-speaking Ohlone (Oh-low-nee) people, the ancestors and descendants of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to all of the Ohlone Tribes and descendants of the Verona Band. As we begin our meeting tonight, we acknowledge and honor the original inhabitants of Berkeley, the documented 5,000-year history of a vibrant community at the West Berkeley Shellmound, and the Ohlone people who continue to reside in the East Bay. We recognize that Berkeley’s landlords and tenants have and continue to benefit from the use and occupation of this unceded stolen land since the City of Berkeley’s incorporation in 1878 and since the Rent Stabilization Board’s creation in 1980. As stewards of the laws regulating rental housing, it is not only vital that we recognize the history of this land, but also recognize that the Ohlone people are present members of Berkeley and other East Bay communities today.
Speaking to the Board at the meeting, Tribal Chair Corrina Gould said that land acknowledgement statements acknowledge not only the past, but also the future.
"…we forge these communications and relationships together so we can build a better world for each other and with each other."
-Tribal Chair Corrina Gould
She stressed that land acknowledgments are “a way to create goals together so there is an ongoing partnership taking care of the lands, and waters, and places that we live.” To that end, the Board also unanimously voted to explore opportunities for working collaboratively with Berkeley’s indigenous community on matters of shared concern.