Alone on Ohlone

October 25, 2013

Alone on Ohlone

October 25, 2013

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"Big Boy, today it looks like we're hiking all Ohlone!"
"Nonsense, Principessa! We have our chaperon!"

We had the trail to ourselves this day. The small trail was named for the Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, a Native American people of the central and northern California coast. When Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, the Ohlone inhabited the area along the coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley.  At that time they spoke a variety of languages, the Ohlone languages, belonging to the Costanoan sub-family. They lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering, in the typical ethnographic California pattern.

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"Enough of the history lesson Mom! Let's go!"

The Ohlone lived in fixed village locations, moving temporarily to gather seasonal foods like acorns and berries. The Ohlone people lived in Northern California from the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula down to Big Sur in the south, and from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Diablo Range in the east. Their vast region included the San Francisco Peninsula, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay area, as well as present-day Alameda County, Contra Costa County and the Salinas Valley.

Before the Spanish came, the Ohlone formed a complex association of approximately 50 different "nations or tribes" with about 50 to 500 members each, with an average of 200. Over 50 distinct Ohlone tribes and villages have been recorded. The Ohlone villages interacted through trade, intermarriage and ceremonial events. Cultural arts included basket-weaving skills, seasonal ceremonial dancing events, female tattoos, ear and nose piercings, and other ornamentation. Originally, the Ohlone religion was Kuksu, which included acting, dancing and various rituals for good health, harvests, hunts and weather. But in the years 1769 to 1833, the Spanish Missions destroyed the Ohlone culture.

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"For once, I have you all alone, to myself, Mom! Without Miss Jodhpurs hoggin' your attention!"

Much of the Ohlone mythology centers around coyotes, eagles and hummingbirds. Here's one Ohlone mythical story to brighten your day:

Beginning with the demise of a previous world, when it was destroyed, the world was covered entirely in water, apart from a single peak, Pico Blanco (north of Big Sur) in the Rumsien version (or Mount Diablo in the northern Ohlone's version) on which Coyote, Hummingbird, and Eagle stood. "When the water rose to their feet" the eagle carried them all to Sierra de Gabilin (near Fremont) where they waited "for the water to go down" and the world to dry out. Coyote was sent to investigate and found it was dry now. 

After the flood, the eagle led Coyote to a beautiful girl inside or in the river and instructed him "she will be your wife in order that people may be raised again." Eagle gave Coyote instruction how to make her pregnant in her belly. This first wife became pregnant by eating one of Coyote's lice, but she was afraid and started running. Coyote could not persuade her or slow her down, she ran to the ocean with Coyote chasing her and she jumped into the ocean and turned into a sand flea or shrimp. 

Coyote married a second wife and this time had children who became the Ohlone people. This is how "people raised again". The Coyote taught humanity the arts of survival.

Thank dawg they didn't practice safe-shampoo habits, otherwise nobody would be here today!

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"Mind if I share this rock with you Big Boy?

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"Sure Princess! Two's company and so much better than being alone."

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"Oh wow! Look at the zoomies we can do here!"

And just like that, I found myself all alone on Ohlone.

 

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