Emeryville celebrates first “Indigenous Peoples Day”

1 min read

Joining a slowly building national movement, Emeryville was the latest city to forgo Columbus Day and observe “Indigenous Peoples Day”. Councilmember Jac Asher read a resolution declaring the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day in the city of Emeryville and “affirming the city’s commitment to promote the history and awareness of Emeryville’s American Indian and Indigenous community”. It was largely a ceremonial gesture as there were no planned festivities to commemorate the day this year.

The reading of the resolution can be viewed below at 53:15:
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Congress established the second Monday of October as a federal holiday honoring Columbus in 1934. Over the years, Native Americans have slowly begun winning more recognition around the day. The idea of Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of native nations. South Dakota renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day in 1990, and it has been an official state holiday ever since. Neighboring Berkeley in partnership with the International Indian Treaty Council established the first Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992 as a protest against Columbus Day.

Emeryville comprised a slight but vital portion of territory of the Huchiuns — one of about 50 politically autonomous village-communities, or tribelets, of Ohlone Indians according to The Emeryville Historical Society (Illustration Courtesy California Historical Society).

Much of Emeryville is of course built on Ohlone Land and most notably, The Bay Street Shopping Center. The largest Ohlone Shellmound, located at the mouth of Temescal Creek, was mostly demolished for a Dance Pavillion in the 1870’s and finished off around 1924 to make room for industrial development including a paint pigment plant.


The Ohlone Shellmounds were a massive man-made “Mound” of shells, tools, bowls, animal bones and human burials created over the course of 2,500 years that rose 60 feet above ground and was as wide as a football field. The mounds weren’t religious sites while in use but served as community cemeteries for the Ohlone population. The Ohlone abandoned the Shellmound approximately 1400 BC. More details of this subject are detailed in this 2014 post 2005 Shellmound documentary exposes the truth behind, and under, Bay Street Development.

The topic was the subject of a 2005 Documentary titled “Shellmound” by Andres Cediel:


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Bay Street is the target of annual Black Friday protests to spread awareness of the history of the land. Supporters of Columbus day argue that the holiday has evolved to celebrates centuries of cultural exchange between America and Europe and commemorates an iconic explorer and honors Italian-Americans, a group that has endured its own share of discrimination.

Further Reading & Resources:

A calendar of festivities celebrating IPD in Berkeley is listed on ipdpowwow.org

Urban renewal atop sacred past / Ohlone protest Emeryville project | SFGate.com

How Indigenous Peoples Day Came to Be | Time Magazine

Invisible Bay St.: Uncovering Emeryville’s History & Understanding Our Own | Yale.edu

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


    • If there is anyone who is a poster child for white guilt in Emeryville it’s council member Jac Asher. She seriously needs to move to Berkeley. It’s painful to watch.

      • Great point you two have made! Liberals SUCK! Berkeley SUCKS! Jac Asher SUCKS! Indians SUCK!

      • Indians!? Indians!!! My word and how dare you. “Indigenous Peoples” if you please.

        If we’re going to look like silly caricatures basking in mindless knee jerk ‘progressive’ street cred, let’s do it right.

  1. Ooops sorry…we have to be PC, right? Thanks for correcting me…Indigenous people SUCK. Brown skinned people SUCK! Jac Asher SUCKS!

    • Sir/Maam, I don’t know if you’re trying to be funny but racism will not be tolerated on this site (you are in fact talking to a “brown skinned” person). Feel free to say what you want about me & Council but please leave race off the table. Please read our Comment Policy if you have any questions:

      Consider this a warning but if you make another racist comment, I will be forced to block this IP address.

    • Rob, I believe the racism was sarcasm intended to say that pointing out how silly this sort of PC nonsense is is equivalent to being a racist. The message is that if you don’t pass a particular progressive litmus test, you are then, of course, 100% opposed to everything liberal (including Berkeley, liberals, other races, and indigenous people).

      Obviously that’s a dumb idea but not a racist one. It’s this sort of thinking that should be laughed at because it makes real progressives look ridiculous. You can believe replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples day in Emeryville is goofy and be a card carrying liberal too.

      I believe liberals who resist extreme positions are more valuable to liberal ideals than those who embrace them. They look like sensible, practical people. People tend to listen to sensible, practical people.

      • Well said! Most of us understood that you were being sarcastic and that your comment about brown skinned people was intentionally ridiculous. I remember going to UC Berkeley in the early 90s and hearing about Indigenous people’s Day back then. Almost 25 years later, that movement’s effort has really paid off, as now a neighboring city has joined the cause! By 2050, maybe El Cerrito will jump on board. It’s spreading like wildfire.

  2. Your observation that the Black Friday protest by natives and non natives is “thinning” is completely wrong. As one of the first people to protest there, we started out with 5 people. Now the protest draws 200 to 300 people! We hate the Dead Mall. It’s built atop thousands of ancient burials. We protest to educate shoppers that Ohlone people still exist today and they, and their supporters, resent the desecration of their ancestors sacred burial sites and the destruction of the shellmounds. Emeryville Shellmound was Emeryville’s greatest cultural resource and the City Council kissed it goodbye. Greed won out again. Didn’t surprise me to learn that those councilmembers’ campaigns were financed by Big Business. I am with the Indian people, you can choose for yourself which side you’re on. Stephanie Manning, Berkeley

    • Thanks Stephanie, I think I mentioned this in a previous article about the Shellmound Documentary in 2014 and will vouch for you that the last few years this protest seems to have grown. In the interest of accuracy I do think when we discuss this mall we should include the fact that the Shellmound was destroyed in 1924 (way before the mall was built). If you wanted to blame politicians, you’d have to blame Wallace Christie who was Mayor at the time.

      I am in fact nearly a quarter native American and have an interest in this subject. I plan a forthcoming historical piece about the Ohlone in collaboration with the Emeryville Historical Society.

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