Berkeley Shellmound

Shellmound & Burial Ground
Berkeley, California

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This site is unusual because it no longer exists as a mound, it was leveled and built upon many years ago. The memory of the site has been preserved and the City of Berkeley has honored the site by designating iLandmark status to the area where the site formerly stood.

The Berkeley Shellmound and Burial Ground, like the Emeryville Shellmound, was once a distinctive landmark on the Bay that is now known as the San Francisco Bay. The imposing mound was shaped by hundreds of years of habitation and burials by the Ohlone Indians, native to this area. The site was leveled in the early part of the 20th century when businesses began springing up nearby; at that time, burials were removed by archaeologists at the University of California. Many of these human remains are still waiting to be repatriated and reburied in a respectful manner.

There has been a renewed interest in local Native American culture and in the preservation of their significant sites like the Berkeley Shellmound. Several conferences have been held on the subject with the participation of the descendents of the Ohlone Indians.

In July 2000, the City Council heard over 25 speakers give support for designating Landmark status on the Berkeley Shellmound site. The City Council did not, however, vote on the issue of Landmarking the site. They wanted to work out boundaries of the historic area and other procedural issues before taking a final vote on the issue. The site received Landmark status though by default because the Council did not make a decision within 30 days of opening the public appeal.

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