The Knoll, shortly after the unearthing of the burial site.

Community members rallied together to "Save the Knoll" after the 6000 year old remains of a Native American child were unearthed at a KB Home construction site at Market Street Field on Market Street in Santa Cruz on August 2, 2011. A group calling itself the Save the Knoll Coalition quickly formed and asked that the knoll area above the main construction site be preserved as a scared place and that no further digging or construction take place in the burial area. Possession of the remains were transferred to the California Native American Heritage Commission, which named Ann Marie Sayers of Indian Canyon, which is near Hollister, as the "Most Likely Descendant." After the announcement, Sayers made herself present at the burial site to observe further archaeological work, but she called for all earth moving to be halted. "I would love to see (the land) purchased by people who understand what sacredness is," she said in an interview, "KB Homes should donate it to the city or the county so it would remain open and no more burials be disturbed."1 As the Most Likely Descendant, Sayers did not have the legal ability to simply halt construction, she could only advise and make recommendations.

After a month of protests by the Save the Knoll Coalition, an agreement was reached on September 19 between Sayers and the developers to return the remains to and preserve 13,000 square feet3 of the burial area. 



  • August 14, 2011 - The Save the Knoll Coalition organized a march and protest that was attended by over 100 community members, and a small group of protesters continued to picket at the site and distribute information during the next six days.
  • August 19, 2011 - Sixteen people traveled from Santa Cruz to Pleasanton to the Northern California headquarters of KB Home to deliver a letter on behalf of the Save the Knoll Coalition. The letter read, in part, "We represent a very large group of native and non-native people who are committed to doing what is necessary to protect the knoll at Branciforte Creek. If your company does not honor Ann Marie Sayer’s request and instead continues with planned construction that would desecrate and destroy the cultural site, we will have no choice but to take further action."2
  • August 21, 2011 - Ann Marie Sayers spoke at a meeting held at Grant Park that was organized by the Save the Knoll Coalition. She reiterated her desire for the digging to halt, and she spoke about how her mother told her that if a burial site was disturbed, the spirit of that individual was left wandering.


The Knoll. Workers near the unearthed burial site (where the orange fencing is). Photo: August 16, 2011.


Demonstrators look at the main KB Home construction site at Market Street Field during the Save the Knoll march on August 14, 2011. The Save the Knoll march on Pacific Avenue, August 14, 2011.



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