Prayer Walk Brings More Focus on Revered Indian Sites

March 31, 2007

Author: Todd R. Brown

Source: San Mateo County Times

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO - REEDY GRASSES swayed in the warm wind at the southeast edge of San Bruno Mountain, the clear sky capping the brown curve of the hillside, where about 35 people gathered in a circle Friday afternoon.

Wounded Knee DeOcampo stood in the center, wearing a black baseball cap and matching sweat shirt emblazoned with Geronimo and other Apache warriors that read, "Homeland Security — Fighting Terrorism Since 1492."

"Offer your medicine, your tobacco to the ancestors for the protection of Mother Earth," 64-year-old DeOcampo said, then started singing in a lilting cry as dried bundles of California sage smoldered at his feet.

Another man joined in, clad in baggy jean shorts and Air Jordan sneakers and beating a steady rhythm on a hand drum. The group passed a pouch of tobacco so people could offer a pinch to the soil and then face west, north, south and east.

Beneath them was more than just earth, though. One of the largest undisturbed Indian shellmounds in the BayArea lay underfoot, a couple of hundred yards from the site of a future office tower complex.