Article by Rachel Barnes | Photos by Richard Grant
A group of Native American activists met Saturday morning to march to President Jane Close Conoley’s home to protest possible development at Puvungna.
“It’s not about her; it’s about honoring our ancestors,” said spiritual leader Michelle Castillo. “OK we’ll go to her house, but we’ll do it in a way that’s peaceful. If we do it any other way the message gets lost.”
Castillo said she saw what she thought were construction vehicles dumping dirt from the development of the new Parkside North Dormitories Sept. 20. A temporary parking lot on the 22-acre parcel is currently under review, according to school officials.
According to Castillo, the activists have a lawyer who is negotiating with the school to get the soil removed from the land. However, the majority of the protests are focused on the possible parking lot. They chanted: “Save it, don’t pave it,” and “Conoley, CSU, sacred land is not for you.”
Though Conoley’s neighbors were present when the protestors chanted in front of her house, she was away on a fundraising trip and was unaware of the protest.
“If the protesters are concerned about the movement of dirt from one part of the campus to our undeveloped 22-acres, one issue is that there are diverse aspirations about that land among various Native groups,” Conoley said in an email. “We moved the dirt as we did in response to a Native-led planning effort completed last year.”