West Berkeley Shellmound, Village & Burial Site

Picture of West Berkeley Shellmound

The Site:

West Berkeley Shellmound & Ceremonial & Burial site, CA-ALA-307, USA.

Contact:

Corrina Gould, Sogorea Té Land Trust

The Location:

1990 Fourth Street, Alameda County, Berkeley, CA, opposite Spenger’s Fish Grotto. It is located on private land.

The Threat:

A mixed-use development of shops, apartments and an underground parking garage that would destroy what remains of the West Berkeley Shellmound and its associated burials.

Who Considers the Site Sacred?

Descendants of the Chochenyo Ohlone people.

Why is it Sacred?

The Chochenyo Ohlone people lived here from 3700 B.F.C to 800 C.E. Where people lived, they buried their dead and conducted ceremonies. It is considered to be the oldest of more than 425 shellmounds that once ringed the shore of the San Francisco Bay.

It evolved over centuries of use, spanning hundreds of generations, around the mouth of Strawberry Creek where it flowed to the Bay. The Ohlone, principally ate shellfish and they discarded the shells and added soil until the site become a mound. The mound or midden eventually grew to approximately 20 feet in height and several football fields long.

What is its Status?

It was chosen to be a Berkeley City Landmark in 2002. In 2003, it was found to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The following year, it was deemed eligible for the California State Register of Historic Places.

 

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