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Native Americans were the first people to live in America. Learn more about the Ohlone tribe.

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Ohlone Tribe

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Comprehensive genealogical research of the Mission Records (birth, death, marriage) traces the surviving Muwekma lineages of the late 19th and 20th centuries back to their aboriginal villages. They are the original inhabitants of San Francisco, California, USA, and the surrounding Bay Area. To introduce these people, they can do no better than to quote the words of the United States District Court in Washington, DC.

Nearly two hundred years ago, the land, we now call California was very different from what we now know it to be. Not so long ago the natives of the Monterey Bay area, known as Costanoan or Ohlone Indians, flourished amongst a rich, teeming atmosphere rich with life of all kinds. Today, they are all but gone. The arrival of Spanish missions issued a sad, new chapter of history for these people. Forced into missions and forbidden to maintain their own culture and beliefs, they were removed from their lands, assimilated, and almost annihilated. The problems did not end with the mission era.

In the early part of the Twentieth Century, the Department of the Interior ("DOI") recognized the Muwekma tribe as an Indian tribe under the jurisdiction of the United States. In more recent times, however, and despite its steadfast efforts, the Muwekma Tribe has been unable to obtain federal recognition, a status vital to the Tribe and its members. The present-day Muwekma Ohlone Tribe is comprised of the entire known surviving Native American lineages aboriginal to the San Francisco Bay region that trace their ancestry through the Missions Dolores, Santa Clara and San Jose. The aboriginal homeland of the Muwekma Tribe includes a large contiguous geographical area that historically crosscuts linguistic and tribal boundaries that fell under the sphere of influence of the three missions between 1776 and 1836.

Sixty years after the American conquest of California, as a result of the discovery of the 18 unratified California Indian Treaties, Charles E. Kelsey of San Jose, was named Special Agent by the Indian Service Bureau in Washington, D. C. Kelsey was specifically charged with the task of identifying all of the landless tribes and bands located in Northern California (Kern County north to Oregon border) in need of land for their home sites. One of these tribes was the Verona Band of Alameda County residing in Pleasanton, Niles, and surrounding towns near Mission San Jose, whom Kelsey specifically recommended for the purchase of land under the Congressional Acts beginning in 1906 to 1937. Evidence presented to and accepted by the BIA's Office of Federal Acknowledgment, demonstrates that the direct ancestors of the present-day Muwekma Ohlone tribe were Federally Acknowledged as the Verona Band by the U.S. Government beginning in 1906.

Returning from their service from overseas, the Muwekma tribe remained landless, poor, and without any benefits. On the other hand, the Muwekma families continued to maintain their unique Indian social ties and culture. During the early 1960s, Muwekma families came together under the principal leadership of Dolores Marine Alvarez Piscopo Galvan, and her children (Hank Alvarez, Philip, Ben, and Dottie Galvan Lameira).


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From 1982-1984, because of being disenfranchised by the dominant society, including politicians and especially archaeologists, the Muwekma Ohlone tribal government was formed in order to communicate their legal issues to public agencies. On December 8, 1999, the Muwekma tribal council filed a court case against the Department of the Interior / BIA arguing that as a previously Federally recognized tribe that was never "Terminated" by any Act of Congress, Muwekma should not have to wait 20 years for its status clarification or for the BAR to even review the tribe's documents.

Over the past century, the Muwekma have politically, spiritually, and culturally revitalized themselves and formed a formal tribal government in agreement with the Interior's criteria Department. Presently, the Muwekma Ohlone is seeking reaffirmation and re-establishment as a Federally acknowledged Indian tribe. The Muwekma have spent these past 24 and odd years conducting research and submitting to the Branch of Research and acknowledgment over several thousand pages of historical, legal, anthropological, and genealogical documentation as part of the prayerful process.

After all said and done, it will be 98 years, since the Verona Band of Alameda County was first Federally acknowledged. Furthermore, the BIA's confirmation of the evidence submitted by the Muwekma tribe sends a message to the larger dominant society. The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe meets all of the criteria for reaffirmation set by the court as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs' acknowledgment criteria. The tribe is a previously recognized tribe. It has demonstrated that it has had a trust relationship with the United States from 1906 to the present and Congress has never terminated their relationship.

The Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribe is a sovereign Indian Nation located within several counties in the San Francisco Bay area since time immemorial. Before the American conquest of California in 1846-1848, some of the secularized Mission Indian families obtained formal Mexican land grants, while the majority of the others found refuge on the rancho lands of friendly California families. After the American takeover of California, there were Indian rancherias established on rancho lands in the South Bay, West Bay and especially in the East Bay. At least six Muwekma Indian rancheria communities emerged to maintain themselves during the 19th and early 20th centuries in the East Bay.


Books on the Ohlone

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Links to other sites on the Ohlone

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From Peace to Present http://www.mchsmuseum.com/ohlonepeace.html
Ohlone Culture http://www.santacruzpl.org/history/spanish/
Muwekma Ohlone http://www.muwekma.org/history/tribe.html
Ohlone Indians http://www1.pvsd.net/PortolaValleyHistory/
Ohlone Indian Era - San Pablo http://www.ci.san-pablo.ca.us/main/ohloneindianera.htm
Ohlone Indian Resources http://www.smokymtnmall.com/mall/cindians.html
Native American Occupation http://csc-s-maps-q.csc.noaa.gov/salmonid/html/people/ohlone.htm
Ohlone Indians http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=
Ohlone Indians http://staff.pausd.org/~bvana/Third%20Grade/

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