On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, escrow closed on the purchase of the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site at 1900 Fourth Street in Berkeley. Title to the 2.2-acre sacred site transferred immediately to the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a women-led indigenous land trust, making this the biggest urban Land Back victory in California history. The previous owner, Ruegg & Ellsworth, received $27 million for the land.

The Kataly Foundation, and its founding donor Regan Pritzker, provided the bulk of the funds through an unrestricted Shuumi Land Tax donation of $20 million. Two other donors contributed $5 million in the final week of fundraising, enabling Sogorea Te’ Land Trust to offer $25.5 million during mediated settlement negotiations on March 8. This settled all outstanding legal claims in the five-year legal battle over the site.

In addition to the $1.5 million the City of Berkeley contributed toward purchase of the property, the court ordered the city to pay $1.4 million to cover the landowner’s attorneys’ fees, plus $2.6 million into the Berkeley Housing Trust Fund. If we add an estimated $1 million in City Attorney’s fees, Berkeley contributed roughly $6.5 million to this epic struggle.

Thank you Berkeley City Council! And thanks to all of you who supported the protection of this sacred cultural site, long known as “Spenger’s Parking Lot” and soon to be a cultural center and open space park.

Last year we asked Lisjan Ohlone leader Corrina Gould, if she should win, what is the message of this eight-year-long struggle?

“Things can change in this world,” Corrina replied. “It is trust that makes things right. Partnering has made this dream a reality. Thousands of people—funders, Native people and allies—the West Berkeley Shellmound brings people together. Before, resources were unavailable to help Native people protect sacred sites. Now we see what happens when resources are made available. Powerful prayers have been laid down at the West Berkeley Shellmound by people from all over the world. That has changed the energy of the place and helped make this happen.”

The West Berkeley Shellmound is Free!