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October 1, 2013 > Honoring Bay Area Native Americans

Honoring Bay Area Native Americans

By Jessica Nol Flohr

Hidden among the tule grass in the wetlands of Coyote Hills Regional Park is an ancient village site, preserved over 2,000 years. Normally fenced off for safekeeping, this historic site is opened to the public a few times each year for special events and educational programs. The village, once home to the Tuibun Ohlone people, includes a family home, a shelter for shade, and a sweat lodge. On Sunday, October 6, Coyote Hills will host the 20th ÒGathering of Ohlone Peoples.Ó Park-goers will have the opportunity to not only tour the Ohlone village, but also meet descendants of the Ohlone people, learn about Ohlone traditions, and hear about issues facing Native peoples in todayÕs culture.

The Ohlone people represent over 58 unique cultural groups. ÒOhloneÓ and ÒOhlone countryÓ were classifying terms anthropologists used to categorize the local peoples based on noted similarities among various tribal groups. Instead of one unified tribe, the region was extremely diverse, populated by many smaller groups between San Francisco and San Juan Bautista. With the influx of Spanish missionaries and the establishment of California missions, the population of native peoples began to decline. Where once over 20,000 Ohlone peoples lived, there are now fewer than 5,000.

Today, the Ohlone people work through local organizations to bring awareness of local cultural history and preserve the ancient ways of their people. The Gathering is a unique forum to serve this purpose. The Gathering features activities for children and adults alike, craft demonstrations, lectures, slideshows, films, music, and dance. Beverly Ortiz, event coordinator and park naturalist, says that the greatest aspect of the Gathering is the personal sharing. ÒIndividual Ohlone people will be present, sharing one-on-one about who they are. The Gathering provides an opportunity to get to know these people.Ó

Everyone is invited to attend and watch demonstrations of traditional methods of food preparation, taste Manzanita cider and acorn soup and, for a very modest fee, create an abalone pendant. Adults can learn how to build a fire with natural materials, while children create model tule boats based on historic drawings or join in a game of hoop-and-pole. Slideshow presentations and films will be shown indoors. Fry bread and Indian tacos will be sold, and guests are welcome to pack a picnic lunch. The event is free, though there is a small fee for parking.

This annual Gathering is a local treasure, bringing to life CaliforniaÕs rich and varied history. Meet descendants of local Native peoples and learn about their history, culture, and traditions. It will be a day to remember!

Gathering of the Ohlone Peoples
Saturday, Oct 6
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Coyote Hills Regional Park
8000 Patterson Ranch Rd., Fremont
(510) 544-3220
Free admission, $5 parking

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