[UPDATED] Huntington Beach to Annex Sacred Indian Site
UPDATE: Jaimee Lynn Fletcher reports in Orange County Register: HUNTINGTON BEACH--The city will absorb an unincorporated county island that some environmentalists believe is an American Indian burial ground that dates back more than 8,000 years.
A proposal goes before the Huntington Beach City Council tonight to have the city annex 6.2 acres of land on the Bolsa Chica Mesa that the owner wants to sell to developers and Native Americans want preserved because it's considered sacred.
The so-called Goodell property would be zoned under the proposal for residential low-density allowing for up to 22 homes or such other uses as nursing homes, nurseries, horticulture facilities or wireless communications facilities, the Orange County Register reports today.
The same unincorporated island falls within 17 acres of land considered sacred burial grounds. However, only the Goodell plot has not been destroyed as the land surrounding it is part of now-bankrupt Hearthside Homes' Brightwater development.
As reported here, the Goodell property drew keen interest in December from the California Native American Heritage Commission, whose members were aghast that someone had built over the sacred land surrounding it. "We're going to keep our eyes and ears on it," Commissioner James Ramos, who now chairs both that panel and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in Highland, said of the Goodell property at the time.
The full 17 acres in July were identified as being eligible for listing with the National Register of Historic Places because 8,500-year-old cog stones used in sacred rituals had been unearthed there.
Most likely descendents (MLDs) of the Gabrielino-Tongva and Juaneño-Acjachemen bands of mission Indians monitor grading, excavations and reburials at Bolsa Chica and have the power to shut down construction until their concerns are dealt with. But this has led to in-fighting among tribes as accusations fly that paid Native American monitors are cutting side deals with developers over the remains.
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It all came to a head--as it has countless times over the years before--at the November California Coastal Commission hearing in Long Beach, where a move to stop further Hearthside development failed, although the builder was scolded about its handling of 5,500 bags of remains--crushed bones, teeth, artifacts and soil that Gabrielino Chief Anthony Morales says contain "the DNA of our ancestors"--and ordered to re-bury them more quickly.
Leaving that meeting, Morales told the Weekly his last hope "for dignity" rested with the Native American Heritage Commission, which gave his tribe that dignity. More specifically, the six commissioners huddled in San Juan Capistrano City Council chambers voted unanimously to force Hearthside to speed up the Native American-monitored sorting and reburials. Commissioners also said they would contact the County of Orange and City of Huntington Beach to express their concerns about Brightwater and the proposed annexation of the Goodell land.
Despite what would be possible under the proposed zoning designation, there are no plans for development of the Goodell property nor is the proposal inconsistent with city and county zoning, according to the staff report presented to Huntington Beach council members, who will also be advised the city wants to set aside 2 acres of open space and 1 acre as a coastal conservation area. As for the remaining land, while Brightwater filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, company officials have said building and home sales would not be affected, the Register reports.
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