Alameda Recreation and Parks Department to ‘Pause’ Collaboration with Sogorea Te Land Trust

On Monday, Amy Wooldridge (Director of Alameda Parks & Recreation Department) replied to our open letter concerning the possibility of Sogorea Te Land Trust being given a portion of Linear Park, in Alameda–at the corner of Main Street and Singleton Avenue.

In our preliminary email, asking whether or not this was true, Wooldridge told us: “The Recreation and Parks Department is working with the Sogorea Té Land Trust and Confederated Villages of Lisjan to develop an agreement regarding a section of tule plants in the Main Street Linear Park between Singleton and Stargell streets…. Sogorea Té Land Trust will take responsibility for maintenance of this area which includes removing weeds and invasive plants…. They will also then have the opportunity to cultivate the tule plants that they use for ceremonial dress, boats, roofing, and baskets.”

Our primary objections were two-fold:

  1. The Confederated Villages of the Lisjan Nation, Inc. is not a tribal government; the City of Alameda is Muwekma Ohlone Territory.
Confederated Villages of the Lisjan Nation, INC.Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area
Less than 5 years old.Documented existence before 1890.
(aka “Time Immemorial”)
Represents 1 family.Thousands of enrolled tribal members.
CorporationFederally Recognized as a Tribal Nation*
*The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area is currently fighting to restore their Federal Recognition as a Tribe. Find out how you can help.
  1. The site proposed for management by Sogorea Te Land Trust has been subject to soil and groundwater pollution which was never properly cleaned.
    • 2 x 6,000 gallon gasoline tanks removed in
    • 1 x 550 waste oil tank.
    • These tanks were leaking gasoline and waste oil into the soil at Main Street, and Singleton Avenue, specifically.
    • Contaminated soil around tanks were used to back-fill holes made from tank removal.
    • Contaminated groundwater sprayed on contaminated soil for dust suppression during the entire project.
    • Existence of Toxic Marsh Crust 4-18 below ground surface.
    • Water table at 3 feet BGS, drainage ditch at least 4 feet deep.
    • 2021 Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment report finds Benzene, Naphthalene, and other contaminants in ground water at one of the 26 underground storage tanks within 1,000 feet of proposed land management area.
    • Specific guidance from Alameda County Healthcare Services requiring review of sufficiency of corrective actions before Land Use may be changed.

It was our impression that the City of Alameda had reached out to Sogorea Te Land Trust in another performative display of “restorative justice” to give indigenous people [toxic] land back.

We found out that this was not the case. Sogorea Te Land Trust was not being given land by the City of Alameda.

“This was simply intended as a short, one-year maintenance agreement that also included and allowed for the Sogorea Te Land Trust to cultivate the plants for non-edible purposes.” Amy Wooldridge told us; adding, “They had reached out to me directly with this interest and since this park is in need of more maintenance, it seemed like a good fit.”

However, after being told about the dubious nature of Sogorea Te Land Trust’s intentions to convey trust land to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, and being given credible information regarding the suspected contamination of Linear Park, Amy Wooldridge has told us she intends to “pause” plans for collaboration with Sogorea Te Land Trust, “and will keep the Muwekma [Ohlone] Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area apprised of anything connected with Indigenous People that I’m involved with here in Alameda.”

This news is a victory for the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, because the City of Alameda falls within traditional Muwekma Ohlone territory.

Stay tuned for more.