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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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Ohlone Folk Tales
The Ohlone used folk tales,
usually featuring talking
animals or magical beings,
to explain nature around them.

The Ohlone believed that Nature, in the form of spirits, had much influence over their lives; as a result, they respected it and lived in harmony with it. To connect with the spirits, they would usually sing songs. They used folk tales to explain the wonders of nature around them, such as the creation of animals, plants, and rivers. They also believed in sharing what they had, so after hunts, the kill was distributed among the entire clan, and sometimes simply to anyone who needed food.


Ohlone Hunter
Because hunting was
sacred, Ohlone men had to
train themselves before they
were allowed to hunt.

The collecting and preparing of food was central to Ohlone culture. Women took care of gathering and preparing acorns, berries, and other plants. They would often come together with the rest of the village women and sing or talk as they prepared the food. Ohlone considered hunting sacred. A man first had to train both physically and spiritually as well as learn a strict code of conduct before he was allowed to go out.





Ahlone Diet
The Ohlone ate many different animals such as
rabbits, fish, and deer, but they had to compete with
other animals such as foxes, sea otters, and bears.

The territory of the Ohlone tribe spanned modern-day San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey County. They ate a wide variety of items including roots, seeds, grasses, berries, flowers, acorns, insects, reptiles, bats, rodents, rabbits, birds, fish, and larger animals like deer. However, they had to compete for food and space with sea otters, gray foxes, and grizzly bears.

Ohlone Crafts
The Ohlone were known for their reed
baskets and were very skilled in crafts.

The Ohlone used almost everything they could find in some way. They made baskets out of reeds and huts and canoes out of grass, and acorns alone were used to make flour, bread, soups, and mush. Each village was fairly self-sufficient, but would sometimes trade skins and other goods with neighboring villages. When the Ohlone tried to trade with the settlers, they were converted, and were forced into cheap labor, almost considered slaves.

Ohlone Ceremonial Dancing
Ohlone Ceremonial Dance
at Mission San Jose (1806)

In 1769, Spanish missionaries, led by Father Junipero Serra, began to arrive to try and convert the Ohlone Indians to Christianity. He and many others hoped to teach the Ohlone the "civilized" way of life, hoping to eventually allow them to become Spanish citizens. Those who converted were not allowed to practice their original religion and culture or even to leave the missions. They were forced to work for the missionaries, doing jobs such as growing crops, weaving cloth, and building missions.

Ohlone and the Missionaries
Spanish missionaries kept a
large number of Ohlone Indians
as slaves and tried to
convert them to Christianity.

About 60% of Native American deaths in the missions occurred because of diseases brought over by the Spanish missionaries, including measles, mumps, cholera, and influenza. In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain, and Ohlone territory came under Mexican control. Finally, in 1848, California was allowed to join the United States of America. However, Native Americans were constantly discriminated against. Finally, in 1924, Congress announced that a Native American had the same rights as any other citizen.


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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