in Mutsun Ohlone, one of eight languages of the SF/Monterey Bay
Ohlone (aka Costanoan) is a grouping term created by anthropologists to signify broad-based linguistic and cultural similarities among some 58 independent tribal groups. The language family of the tribes whose homelands extended from present-day “San Francisco Bay south to Monterey Bay, the Big Sur coast and the San Benito River drainage” was first named “Costanoan” in 1891 and “Ohlone” in 1978.
The word Ohlone (pronounced “Óh-lone-e”) comes from the name of a single tribe of Ohlone, the Oljon (pronounced “Ol-hóne”).
This group is also sometimes called Costanoan (pronounced Cóh-stah-no-an). This word comes from a Spanish term “Costaño,” meaning “Indians from the coast.”
While there was overlap in the overall cultures of Ohlone peoples from tribe to tribe, there were also many things that made each tribe district—from leadership, to sacred narratives, specifics of plant use, languages spoken, and more. Their cultures changed in the thousands of years that they and their ancestors have lived in the place now known as the San Francisco Bay Area. Change increased as non-Indians began to settle in the area after 1769. While Ohlone peoples experienced tremendous disruption, dislocation, and suffering in subsequent decades, an astonishing amount of ancestral knowledge has been preserved, due to the courage, sacrifice, bigheartedness, foresight and determination of many elders to share that knowledge.
This curriculum not only describes some of what is known about the old ways of Ohlone peoples, but also celebrates the many ways, old and new, that Ohlones from varied tribes are bringing their cultures forward into the future.
Graphic Table designed by KKLLC data from the book INFINITE CITY: A SAN FRANCISCO ATLAS