Monday, March 2, 2020

Earliest San Francisco --- Day 8/327

Walk: Trader Joe's
Distance: 2.5 Miles, Yoga

Louis Choris, Ohlone Indians in a Tule Boat in San Francisco Bay, ca 1922
Since she knows a bit about San Francisco history, several people have asked Ciwt why they don't hear or read more about its first settlers, the Ohlone Indians. So, Ciwt did some research and found that present day members of the Ohlone tribes know very little of that themselves and are working hard to learn more.  

In many respects much of their history has vanished.  And in many respects this is due to the Ohlone taboo against mentioning the name of a dead person.  This taboo is common to many indigenous peoples worldwide, and can go so far as to remove a person's name from the language entirely.  Needless to say, individual lineage/geneology is nearly impossible to trace along with many aspects of Ohlone culture.

Along with this taboo, the decimation of the Ohlones' lives and culture by Spanish, Mexican and American colonialists and the diseases they carried was so rapid, historical accounting was nearly impossible. 

Certain things are known or known with some dispute.  These are just a few:

Original migration to California:  Either 20,000 years ago by land from Asia or 3000 years ago by sea from Siberia by sea.  There are other theories, with the preceding being the outer limits.

Northern California Village Regions: From the present day San Francisco Peninsula to Big Sur and inland to the Diablo Range. 50 distinct nations or tribes have been recorded to date with 50 to 200 in each.  These interacted through trade, intermarriage, ceremonial events as well as conflict.

Diet: The Ohlone were hunter-gathers and rough harvesters.  They ate crushed acorns, nuts, grass seeds and berries.  Hunted and trapped game, fish and seafood were also important to their diet and abundant.

Arts: Basket weaving, female tattoos, ear and nose piercings and other ornamentaion.  

Clothing: Men did not wear clothing except in cold weather when they wrapped themselves in animal skin or feather capes. Women wore deerskin aprons, tule or shredded bark skirts along with ornaments of shell beads, abalone pendants, bone or wood.  As mentioned, they were tattooed.  On cool days they too wore animal skin capes.

Building Materials: On the Coast, dome-shaped houses of woven or bundled tule mats 6 to 20 feet in diameter.  Inland they built conical houses from redwood bark on wooden frame.  Their boats were built of tule or balsa wood.

Contemporary San Francisco Area Ohlone group: Muwekma Ohlone Tribe has over 400 enrolled members and is comprised of 'all of the known surviving Native American lineages aboriginal to the San Franciso Bay Region who trace their ancestry through the Missions Dolores, Santa Clara and San Jose and who descend from members of the historic Federally Recognized Verona Band of Alameda County.'

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