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Learning More About Double Ground FAQs

Posted November 29, 2023, 11:08 AM

Frequently Asked Questions

Note that the content below was last updated on Nov 14, 2022

How is CCA working with the Indigenous Community on its SF expansion planning?

Tribal representatives have been a part of the process since site preparations first revealed the presence of archaeological deposits that indicated historic human presence on the site. That representation, and CCA’s understanding, has evolved over time and continues to develop and expand.

How do you respond to the #LandBackCCA petition that has voiced concerns about the SF expansion of CCA?

CCA recognizes that the Indigenous community is not a monolith and welcomes dialogue with all members of the Indigenous community around this project. While the petition was posted anonymously, we are now in contact with those who posted it and look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of their perspective and building a constructive ongoing dialogue with them. CCA is committed to incorporating Indigenous presence into the Double Ground campus expansion and to developing sustainable partnerships with the Indigenous community.

What type of testing was done on the site before moving forward with this project?

Soil testing was conducted in consultation with an Ohlone descendant recognized by the California Native American Heritage Commission, as required by the process outlined by the city, county, and planning department of San Francisco.The soil findings that triggered further analysis are 35-40 feet underground. CCA publicly shared those preliminary findings in 2020 on our website.

What was found on the site?

According to the preliminary analysis that CCA received from the project archaeologist, the soil samples contain organic materials -  fragments of shell and fish bones, plant matter and rocks - indicating human activity at this location reaching back some 7,500 years. No human remains or artifacts were found. These materials were found to be 40+ feet below ground. This location was submerged by the bay’s expansion following the melting of the glaciers of the last Ice Age, thousands of years ago. Thus, this site was submerged by natural processes long before Europeans arrived in California. Analysis of the findings are ongoing, and a final report will be released in due time.

Is the site a shellmound?

While CCA is still awaiting a final report, what we do know is that, approximately 7,500 years ago there may have been human activity on this site that was then covered by the bay’s expansion long before European settlers arrived in this area. What remains is a small archaeological deposit of shell and bone and rock fragments more than 40 feet underground, under layers of mud and landfill.

What was discovered at CCA does not resemble the “shellmounds” that are more commonly thought of as above-ground entities that existed elsewhere along the bay in much more recent history and that were intentionally destroyed in the name of settlement. The CCA site is entirely different in that regard.

At the same time, CCA has chosen to use the term cultural site to acknowledge the cultural and historic significance of this discovery. As CCA continues its engagement with the Indigenous community, and our knowledge and understanding grow, our language is likely to evolve as well.

What is CCA doing to acknowledge the Indigenous history of this land?

CCA is engaged in a process to develop an interpretation plan for the campus opening in 2024, working with Indigenous leaders, scientists and the City of San Francisco to identify and implement steps that will be meaningful to all parties.

The relationship-building efforts with the Indigenous community are underway and ongoing. While these discussions will take time to unfold, CCA has made these commitments:

  1. Incorporate physical land acknowledgement and interpretive information into the Double Ground campus expansion;
  2. Integrate the idea of land acknowledgment into the school’s culture and curriculum. The college is engaged in learning about these archaeological findings in consultation with Indigenous representatives, to develop expressions and actions of acknowledgment and learning that are meaningful to the traditional first stewards of the Bay Area, whose cultures and histories have been impacted by ongoing legacies of colonization.
  3. Form a steering committee to create the Double Ground Interpretive Plan: CCA leadership, faculty, DS members, SF City Planning staff member, indigenous communities’ representatives and students to engage broad community involvement in the process of determining the Interpretive Plan’s outcomes.

Will CCA be paying a land tax to benefit local tribal organizations?

In recognizing the significance of this land, we are committed to meaningful, lasting commitments, made in consultation with the Indigenous community. A land tax is one of many options that will be considered now that the project is getting underway.

This project has been underway for some time. Why aren’t plans more concrete?

Building relationships of trust and respect takes time. While the planning and preparation for this project has been underway at CCA for some time, the timelines of others involved can be different. On November 9, CCA’s Board of Trustees formally approved the institution’s planning process toward 2024 completion. We expect our discussions and activities to increase significantly in the coming months.

Which tribes are you engaged with?

In the past several years, CCA has sought input from many groups and individuals in the Bay Area Indigenous community to identify those who feel connected to this land and who wish to engage with us on developing and designing an interpretive plan. Currently we are actively building relationships with Dr. Jonathan Cordero and Gregg Castro of the Association of the Ramaytush Ohlone. We are grateful for the initial consultation of Kanyon Sayers-Roods of the Indian Canyon Band of Mutsun Costanoans and Corrina Gould, tribal spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan; and, through them, with other Ohlone elders.