Hundreds gathered in front of the Santa Clara County Government Building in San Jose on Saturday to stand with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in calling on the County to deny permits for the proposed mining project that threatens Juristac.
Over two dozen speakers representing a broad range of communities, organizations, and California tribes spoke to the crowd, including Amah Mutsun Chair Valentin Lopez, 27th District Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Theodora Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Gerardo Loera of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley. (Full speakers list below.) The Rally was co-sponsored by 70 local organizations, all of which had representatives in attendance.
“This company wants to tear down our most sacred site and sell the sand and gravel. The County’s regulations allow the destruction of the most sacred site of a Native American tribe. Can you believe that? Their regulations are fine with it. But we can’t allow that to happen,” Chairman Valentin Lopez said.
“If this was a Catholic, Jewish or Muslim or any other religion’s sacred site, they would never even consider doing that,” Lopez continued “They only want 8% of the Vatican, they only want 8% of Mecca, what’s the big deal here?’ That is a big deal. That is a big deal to our tribe. And luckily, it’s a big deal to everyone here, and we thank you for that.”
“Today is about our cultural responsibility to take care of the land,” Veronica Martinez, Amah Mutsun tribal member who acted as MC of the main stage. “This rally is a call to let us do just that. And it’s a call for cultural survival.”
Uwismak Singers, the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band’s traditional singing group, opened and closed the rally with ceremonial songs. Many of the 75 tribal members who were present at the rally gathered on stage at the end of the event to conduct a small ceremony to bless a bundle containing over 21,000 petition signatures.
The Amah Mutsun Youth Group presented the bundle of 21,000 signatures to the crowd, explaining that the tribe had intended to deliver the petitions to the County during the rally, but that no County staff member including the staff in the building that day were willing to receive them. “We will honor and deliver these petition signatures on our terms, not theirs,” Amah Mutsun youth leader Hannah Moreno told the crowd. “We are still here, we are fighting for our land, we are fighting for Mother Earth. We belong here, we need to stand together.”
“I’m honored to stand with each and every one of you to fight back against, once again another effort to take land away and to diminish and denigrate our indigenous communities,” 27th District California Assemblymember Ash Kalra said in his address to the rally. “This right here is absolutely beautiful. To see this turnout at your County building. To see this turnout, showing up to protect Juristac.“
“Let’s keep in mind there are folks in this building, there are folks on the board [of Supervisors], who are supportive,” Kalra said. “We want to let them know that you have a whole community with you. You have a whole community with you that’s going to lift you up and allow you to lead with justice and with righteousness. I want to thank you for being that community, I want to thank you for being that mountain of support that’s going to protect this land.“
“We can’t afford to continue bulldozing and fragmenting lands with high ecological and cultural value,” scientist Tiffany Yap of the Center for Biological Diversity said in her remarks. “A sand and gravel mine does not belong here. It will destroy these pristine habitats and degrade much of the needed wildlife connectivity.”
“This open pit mine would not only dig giant pits in the hillsides of Juristac it would also block animals like mountain lions from being able to migrate. That is why every single environmental organization in the area is opposing this quarry,” Alice Kaufman of Green Foothills said, “And let me say, it’s completely ridiculous and offensive that a project like this in the year 2022 was even proposed. That in spite of everything they’ve been told for the last seven years about the spirituality of the site and the importance of it for wildlife, this company is still trying to get their project approved.“
Alice Kaufman also announced for the first time the Statement of Opposition to Sargent Ranch Quarry that is co-signed by more than 100 elected officials, prominent individuals and organizations. “This is about a Southern California corporation trying to squeeze as much profit as possible out of this landscape. End of story. But our community is joining together to tell them no way.”
Volunteers at the rally provided a large spread of free snacks and drinks, a live poster screenprinting station, a sign/art making station, t-shirt sales booth, video interview area, info tables and an EIR comment letter postcard writing station.
Santa Clara County’s public comment period on the Sargent Quarry Project that threatens Juristac is still open, but ends in just a few short days, on September 26th. This is a crucial window of time in which the public may submit written remarks on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the mining project. After the final Environmental Impact Report is certified, the County’s planning department will rule on whether to approve or deny the Conditional Use Permit for the mine. This decision is expected in early 2023 and the Tribe and allies will continue to take action to call for the protection of Juristac and demonstrate the breadth of public opposition.
“Our traditional stories tell us that if all the people get together, and they follow a plan, and do it the correct way, we can overcome anything,” Amah Mutsun Vice Chair Ed Ketchum told the crowd. “We can overcome this evil that’s upon us now, and we can protect Juristac. No sand pit!”
- KTVU 9/25/22: Tribe, environmentalists oppose mining project in Santa Clara County
- des Informémonos 9/23/22: Amah Mutsun Lives (Spanish language)
- Gilroy Dispatch 9/13/22: Hundreds join rally against Gilroy mining proposal
- Metro Silicon Valley 9/14/22: Sargent Mine Protest Held at McEntee Plaza
- SJSU Spartan Daily 9/13/22: Local tribe objects to mining project
- Indybay 9/11/22: Hundreds Rally in San Jose for Protection of Sacred Tribal Land from Mining Project
- People’s Tribune 9/12/22: Hundreds Demand No Mining at Juristac Sacred Indigenous Grounds
- Our Lives, Our Photographs – Save Juristac
- KQED, KPFA, KPIX/CBS 5 TV – ran segments on air but did not publish online.
- Press release 9/11/22: Over 400 people gather to call on Santa Clara County to deny approval of proposed mine on sacred lands (PDF)
Rally speakers list
- Valentin Lopez, Chair, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
- Ed Ketchum, Vice Chair, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band
- Gerardo Loera, Director of Development, Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley
- Assemblymember Ash Kalra, 27th District of California
- Roman C. Rain Tree (Dunlap Band of Mono/Choinumni Yokuts), Seeds for Sovereignty, Rename S-Valley Coalition
- Corrina Gould, Chair, Confederated Villages of Lisjan
- Brian Franzen, Vice-Chair, Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission
- Theodora Simon, Indigenous Justice Advocate, ACLU of Northern California
- Elisa Marina Alvarado, Red Earth Women’s Society
- Antonio Gonzales, Director, American Indian Movement West
- Richard Hobbs & Rhonda Berry, Human Agenda
- Alice Kaufman, Policy & Advocacy Director, Green Foothills
- Tiffany Yap, Senior Scientist, Center for Biological Diversity
- Gary Ding, Student Leader, Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action
- Raymond LeBeau, Pit River tribal member and Protect Medicine Lake advocate
- Calpulli Tonalehqueh Ceremonial Group
- Sherri Norris, Director, California Indian Environmental Alliance
- Assemblea of Tierras Milperas representatives from Pajaro Valley
- Susan Hayase, Co-Founder, San Jose Nikkei Resisters
- Rev. Nancy Palmer, First Unitarian Church of San Jose & Beth Ogilvie, Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church
- Youth Committee of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band speakers: Carolyn Rodriguez, Roxanne Ganoa, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Desirae Sierra, Gabriela Garcia, Alexii Sigona, Hannah Moreno
Check out the Rally for Juristac photo album on Facebook.
- Full event video (2 hrs 41 min)
- Chairman Valentin Lopez speaks at 9/10/22 Rally for Juristac (11 min.)
- Amah Mutsun Youth Committee at 9/10/20 Rally for Juristac (16 min)
- Assemblymember Ash Kalra: Rally for Juristac 9/10/22 Speakers (5 min)
- Theodora Simon, ACLU of Northern California: Rally for Juristac 9/10/22 Speakers (4 min)
- Alice Kaufman, Green Foothills: Rally for Juristac 9/10/22 Speakers (4 min)