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Bolsa Chica, located in the southern coastal region of California, is an important California Indian ancestral burial ground.
The site has subjected, over several decades, to development pressures from Hearthside Homes, a developer seeking to build houses on the sensitive sacred burial ground. The Bolsa Chica Land Trust believes the City Council action granting permits to the housing developer on July 6, 2010 violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Additionally, the permit granted to the developer, calls for low density zoning which means that the City of Huntington Beach will be allowed to use an Environmental Impact Report dating from 2000!
Please write a letter protesting the action taken by the City of Huntington Beach to build homes on this sensitive sacred burial, archaeological and natural area. Archeological work since 1983, has described the sites as too disturbed to be significant since.   However, recent summaries by Nancy Anastasia Desautels Wiley verify the immense cultural significance of this sacred site.
We have seen other examples of sacred sites containing burials and artifacts after a developer and his archaeologist proclaimed the site free of burials – this was the case at the Emeryville Shellmound located in the SF Bay Area.
The California Coastal Commission has the responsibility and the authority to protect Native Californian burials from further disturbance.  Please stop the further destruction of the sacred cemetery at Bolsa Chica! We are asking the Coastal Commission to refrain from issuing further building permits to the developer Hearthside Homes and its affiliate companies or other developers who may be interested in building on the sacred ground at Bolsa Chica. I had not much geographical idea on Bolsa Chica before finding your blog post and after going through this, my knowledge on the place is much more clear.
Throughout the ages many cultures have conceived of geographic space and expressed those conceptions in a variety of ways. Perhaps the oldest form of sacred geography, and one that has its genesis in mythology, is that of the aborigines of Australia. During the course of the yearly cycle various Aboriginal tribes would make journeys, called walkabouts, along the songlines of various totemic spirits, returning year after year to the same traditional routes. Located in the center of Australia, the massive rock formations of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are the most prominent and well known sacred sites of the Aboriginal people. The beginning of Aboriginal settlement in the Uluru region has not been determined, but archaeological findings to the east and west indicate a date more than 10,000 years ago, though some scholars estimate that human settlement in the region may actually date to 22,000 years ago. By Aboriginal tradition only certain elderly males may climb the rock but despite this tradition the Australian government allows tourists to make the climb using a metal chain installed in 1964.
The first sighting of Kata Tjuta by a European was in July of 1872, when Ernest Giles was exploring the country some 100 kilometers to the northeast.
The inhospitable nature of the terrain ensured that few whites were to venture into the region. Indigenous Protected Areas deliver significant biodiversity, social and cultural benefits and constitute 25% of Australia’s National Reserve System.
Since both Ranger groups helped launch the “IUCN UNESCO Guidelines” at the World Conservation Congress, Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation has integrated them into it’s IPA Cultural Heritage Management Plan. Nhullun is a sacred hill located in Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area in north east Arnhem Land Australia. One such practical tool is NAILSMA’s I-Tracker “Cultural Sites Assessment Module which was tested together with custodians during several learning visits to sacred sites in the IPA.
Despite the law and the work of the AAPA many threats remain and sacred sites are frequently damaged or desecrated. AAPA Signage at a registered sacred area at Yalanbara, part of Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area.
At the end of the workshop the Rangers together with other community members were invited to the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Multi Media and Arts Centre to see a sneak preview to the film “Standing on Sacred Ground” from the Sacred Land Film Project. One of these film clips focused on Aboriginal responses to a nearby mining operation desecrating sacred sites and contained images of some of the community members and Rangers themselves.
Rangers said that tools such as I-Tracker could help them to prioritise management responses to feral animals and weeds for example. Most rangers agreed that providing education and guidance on sacred sites will assist in creating a broader understanding and respect for the deep cultural and spiritual meaning of sacred sites. Community empowerment by mobilizing traditional governance to protect sacred groves in Ghana. Edited By Bas Verschuuren, Robert Wild, Jeffrey McNeely and Gonzalo Oviedo the book is the work of 55 Authors from around the world whom contributed 27 chapters. Soliga in a meeting planning the GPS mapping of their sacred and cultural sites in the forests of the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sactuary, India. In the mountainous southeast corner of the Chamarajanagara district in the state of Karnataka, India, lays the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary (BRTWS). The BRTWS sanctuary has a variety of vegetation types, including scrub, dry and moist deciduous forests, evergreen forests, shola, and high-altitude grasslands, all supporting a wide variety of fauna. Soligas, however, see their actions as an age-old tradition that supports local biodiversity values. As the managers of BRTWS take little notion of the role of human agency in these forests, the close links between the Soligas and their natural surroundings weaken, causing an erosion of the Soligas’ traditional knowledge on the maintenance of their surroundings and their sacred natural sites. Oral histories and spatial visualization of Soliga cultural geography can be used to inform BRTWS managers, and provide context for better governance. Community members organized meetings in which cultural idioms such as agricultural, forestry and ritual use of the sites were explored to understand and document Soliga practices. After the declaration of the BRTWS in 1974, new rules have made traditional Soliga practices harder and harder, for example by restricting access to their sacred natural sites. The Soliga are an indigenous people who have been living in these forested regions for centuries. The coalition in this area consists of scientists, Soliga elders and individuals from various Soliga communities supported by an Indian NGO, the the Ashoka Trust. As the Soligas felt that their interests were not represented on the maps drawn by the government agencies, they constructed a map of their own, asserting their collective identity and their rights over the land. It is one of the most unusual archaeological sites in California, known as CA-ORA-83, it contains evidence of an 8,000 year-old village and unique cogged-stone site.
The approved development would have a significantly adverse impact on the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve wetlands. The project developer maintains that there is not a likelihood of finding human remains on the site.
The Shellmound was said to have been emptied of all burials years ago and yet, hundreds more remained only to dug up during construction.
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According to Aboriginal legends, in the mythic period of the beginning of the world known as Alcheringa - the Dreamtime - ancestral beings in the form of totemic animals and humans emerged from the interior of the Earth and began to wander over the land.
As people trod these ancient pilgrimage routes they sang songs that told the myths of the Dreamtime and gave travel directions across the vast deserts to other sacred places along the songlines.
The most widely held theory is that both rocks are the remnants of a vast sedimentary bed laid down some 600 million years ago. According to Aboriginal myths, Uluru and Kata Tjuta provide physical evidence of feats performed during the Dreamtime creation period. Over the years there have been at least forty deaths, mainly due to heart failure while climbing Uluru, and several people have plumetted to their death while climbing.
Farmers were defeated by the lack of water and the only whites to pass through the area were trappers, miners and the occasional missionary.
In the spirit of “both ways” learning and management the Dhimurru and Yirralka’s Indigenous Rangers joined hands with the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative. Dhimurru has shown that successful implementing of the guidelines mostly lays in translating them into concrete day-to day management actions. An independent organisation named  the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority keeps a record of all sacred sites that are entrusted to them by their custodians. The workshop revealed management challenges such as  fishers anchoring over sacred sites and tourists ignoring signs, taking photos of sacred sites  and  driving over them ,motor bikes, 4 wheel drives and quad bikes cause particular damage.
Many more sacred natural sites excist in the IPA that have not been registered with the AAPA but are part of the Dhimurru IPA management Plan.
The participants also appreciated seeing other indigenous peoples around the world in their search for effective ways of protecting and managing their sacred natural sites.
Based on this logic, many Rangers indicated a need for the production of guidelines and principles for visitors as well as the development of an interpretive centre.
Check Local Listings.PBS Broadcasts Begin!SSIREN Newsletter The Sacred Site Research Newsletter (SSIREN) was conceived as a means to inform and aggregate the community of researchers working on Sacred Natural Sites.
Here topographic sheets with sacred natural sites on it were used tio help locate the clan boundaries followed by subsequent visits to acertain the boundaries of the yelles (SNS). The forests form an important wildlife corridor between the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot and the Eastern Ghats, linking the largest populations of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in southern India. The governmental parties took up the view that the Soligas’ traditional ways of hunting, burning and non timber forest product collection regimes form a threat to the local biodiversity. They argue that since the law prohibited them to lead their traditional lifestyle in 1974, invasive species such as Lantana and hemi-parasites on the gooseberry trees have disturbed the equilibrium and continue to jeopardise cultural and conservation values of the area. As has been reiterated by the Soliga elders, the use, ownership and management of sacred sites can not only guarantee the sustenance of indigenous cultures, but can also protect biodiversity and water resources that are part of the Soliga landscape. Discussions among Soligas were organized, leading to the creation of a map indicating the important Soliga sites. Following a ruling by the country’s Suppreme Court in 2006, a near-complete ban was imposed upon the collection of NTFPs within sanctuaries and natural parks. The Recognition of Forest Rights Act, a recent national policy development may create opportunities for a closer collaboration with the government in this respect.
Though detailed maps of the region exist, they do not indicate sites that are important to the Soligas. This map now serves as a powerful communicative and lobbying tool for their cultural heritage and for their important role in sacred locations that have been left out during government cartographic exercises.
Finland France Georgia Germany Greece Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Malta Montenegro Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Russia Scotland Slovenia Switzerland Spain U.K. Sacred geography may be broadly defined as the regional (and even global) geographic locating of sacred places according to various mythological, symbolic, astrological, geodesical, and shamanic factors. As these Dreamtime ancestors roamed the Earth they created features of the landscape through such everyday actions as birth, play, singing, fishing, hunting, marriage, and death. At the totemic sacred sites, where dwelt the mythical beings of the Dreamtime, the aborigines performed various rituals to invoke the kurunba, or spirit power of the place.
Uluru is often referred to as a monolith, and for many years was listed in record books as the world’s largest monolith. Over eons of time the bed was raised and folded by movements of the earth’s crust, formed into a mountain range, and then slowly eroded leaving the towering rocks behind.
The aboriginal tribe of Anangu are the direct descendants of these beings and are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of these ancestral lands. The Anangu tribe also request that visitors do not photograph certain sections of Uluru, mostly gender-related sacred places, for reasons related to traditional beliefs.
He later named the lake and the Kata Tjuta rocks after the then King and Queen of Spain: Amadeus and Olga. The area was declared an Aboriginal Reserve in 1920 and this existed until the 1940s when road access, the possibility of gold in the area, and the tourist potential of Uluru, showed how fragile the original reserve had been.
This approach helped bring Aboriginal knowledge and contemporary conservation approaches together during a workshop on sacred sites management. Indigenous rangers and custodians need practical tools and guidance to help manage sacred sites. Anyone planning development activities may check the AAPA register before any work starts in order to avoid a breach of the Northern Territory Sacred Sites Act by damaging sacred sites. In most cases it appeared that a lack of law enforcement and limited patrolling capacity among local rangers prevents them from effectively dealing with the more serious cases of illegal access and damage done to sacred sites. The Newsletter is issued quarterly and warmly welcomes contributions regarding news, events, opportunities, publications, or specific topics related to the link between spiritual beliefs, people and nature. Biligiri means “white hill”, derived either from the white mist that covers the hills for a greater part of the year, or from the white rock face that constitutes the major hill crowned with the temple of Lord Rangaswamy.
They therefore have displaced forest dwellers to locations outside of protected areas but change is on the way. Soligas see native species face extinction because their food supply of less competitive native species is taken over by invasive ones. These notions combined with the Recognition of Forest Rights Act provide opportunities for a better collaboration with policy makers. During the community meetings, the local sacred sites and the traditional values were mapped using Geo Information System techniques. The map also helps to restore cultural knowledge and practices associated with these sacred natural sites and their surroundings.

At the end of the Dreamtime, these features hardened into stone, and the bodies of the ancestors turned into hills, boulders, caves, lakes, and other distinctive landforms. This power could be used for the benefit of the tribe, the totemic spirits of the tribe, and the health of the surrounding lands. That description, however, is inaccurate, as Uluru is part of a much larger underground rock formation which includes Kata Tjuta. The sandstone rock of Uluru is actually gray but is covered with a distinctive red iron oxide coating, while the thirty-six domes of Kata Tjuta are a harder type of granite composed of quartz and feldspar.
The knowledge necessary to fulfill these responsibilities has been passed down from generation to generation. This photographic ban is intended to prevent Anangu Aborigines from inadvertently violating this taboo by encountering photographs of the forbidden sites.
Giles returned to explore the area again in 1873 but was beaten to Uluru by William Gosse who sighted the monolith on July 19 and named it after the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. Ayers Rock was created a national park in 1950 and in 1958 was combined with the Olgas to form the Ayers Rock National Park.
This information is downloaded into a data management system that can assist with management, mapping and monitoring of the site.
Industrial fishers for example, can avoid sacred sites whilst fishing by making use of a Marine Atlas of Sacred Sites and by following instructions from signs provided by the AAPA. The Rangers and Elders that attended the workshop were also concerned with protecting and promoting the  culture of the sites and the indigenous population. But how does one develop a meaningful dialogue with industry and what role could conservation management play in protecting sacred sites under such circumstances?
This Lord is a resting form of Lord Vishnu, worshipped as the presiding deity of the forests in the Biligiri Rangan Hills.
They say that the balance of the forest ecology provides security to their traditional lifestyles.
Curiously, the Recognition of Forest Rights act was signed in the same year, stating that the government would do its best to ensure indigenous people’s rights to their lands, particularly in cases where their presence benefits the ecosystem. They are traditionally hunters and swidden agriculturalists, and they collect a wide variety of Non-Timber-Forest-Products for subsistence. These maps were subsequently distributed over inhabitants and policy makers in the region, and can now hardly be ignored.
These places, such as Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas Mountains) became sacred sites.
For the aborigines, walkabouts along the songlines of their sacred geography were a way to support and regenerate the spirits of the living Earth, and also a way to experience a living memory of their ancestral Dreamtime heritage. The world’s largest monolith is actually Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) in Western Australia, which is more than 2.5 times the size of Uluru, stands 858 metres above the ground and covers and area of 48 square kilometers. The origins of the cave-like depressions on both outcroppings, especially those of Uluru, are the subject of debate among geologists but the most commonly held view is that the rock surfaces had been partly eroded and enlarged to form the depressions.
To the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Anangu tribes Uluru represents the living core of their belief. Giles also was the first European to climb the rock which he did accompanied by an Afghan camel driver. They expressed the need to ensure the implementation and revitalisation of traditional law, ceremony and the passing of traditional knowledge in relation to sacred sites both to future generations and to the visitors of the sites. The declaration of the BRTWS as a protected site came with a set of restrictions for the traditional inhabitants, the Soligas. A more recent evaluation of this act revealed that its content was developed hastily, and that its implementation is not only insufficient, but it even weakens the position of some Indian tribal communities. Additionally, resource monitoring and sustainable harvest practices academically support the Soliga view that they support local life instead of threatening it.
The paths the totemic ancestors had trod across the landscape became known as Dreaming Tracks, or Songlines, and they connected the sacred places of power.
No other place in Australia is so rich in mythology, song-lines and stories, or so associated with events from the Alcheringa or Dreaming.
By the 1970s, Ayers Rock and Mount Olga had become the most famous stop on the outback tourist circuit.
The access to certain spots is restricted for example, and hunting and burning of the vegetation are prohibited.
The mythological wanderings of the ancestors thus gave to the aborigines a sacred geography, a pilgrimage tradition, and a nomadic way of life. Separated from one another by approximately 50 kilometers, Uluru and Kata Tjuta are situated along a straight line passing onto another holy peak known as Mount Conner.
In 1976 the Commonwealth Government set up the lease at Yulara (a resort complex and service village located 20 km from the base of Uluru) and in 1983 the old tourist facilities near the rock were closed down. Even though sacred natural sites in these areas are often seen as separate elements in the landscape, they form a cultural-ecological mosaic of interconnected places long recognised and protected by the Soligas. These areas are generally kept out of bounds to community members, and thus protected from human use or disturbance. For more than forty thousand years - making it the oldest continuing culture in the world - the Aborigines followed the Dreaming tracks of their ancestors. In 1985 the title to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was returned to the local Pitjantjatjara Aborigines who, in turn, granted the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service a 99 year lease on the park.
The thirty-six rounded rocks of Kata Tjuta (meaning ‘Many Headed Mountain’), are located in the same National Park as Uluru and the tallest rock, Mt. Today the Park is jointly managed under direction of a Board of Management that includes a majority of Anangu traditional owners. Kata Tjuta is much less visited by tourists that Uluru and therefore has a more peaceful feeling. In 1995, in acknowledgement of Anangu ownership and their relationship with the area, the name of the park was changed from Ayers Rock-Mount Olga to Uluru-Kata Tjuta, its traditional name.

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