Alameda Watershed and the Muwekma-Ohlone

The present-day Muwekma-Ohlone Tribe have called the East Bay home for thousands of years. As the original inhabitants of the Sunol Valley and the entire Bay Area, their ancestors lived in societies with complex social, political, economic and religious institutions that connected them to neighboring tribal groups. The founding of Missions San Francisco (1776), Santa Clara (1777), and San Jose (1797) abruptly and catastrophically altered the lives of these native peoples.  Those who survived the mission system after they were secularized in the 1830s continued to live on several Indian rancherias, and work in communities in the area on the same land that were turned into Ranchos owned by the Alviso, Amador, Vallejo, Bernal, Pico, and Sunol families and amongst others.  

By the mid to late 1860’s, many of the remaining Indian people from the three Bay Area missions gathered at the Alisal Rancheria, located southwest of Pleasanton, where the Ghost Dance Religious Revival blossomed in the 1870s.  Dubbed one of the most prominent Native American communities during the latter half of the nineteenth century, several of the Tribe’s rancherias situated within the historic Rancho Valle de San José, saw a religious and cultural revival and blossoming that spread far and wide throughout northern and central California.  In the 1880s, George and Phoebe Apperson Hearst purchased the Bernal property where they built their Hacienda del Pozo de Verona mansion which included the well-known Alisal ‘Indian Town’ rancheria housed about 125 people at its peak into the early twentieth century.  In 1905 by Charles E. Kelsey of San Jose, discovered the 18 unratified California Indian Treaties of 1851-52 that were secretly sealed within the U.S. Senate archives, as a result, Kelsey was named Special Indian Agent to California, at the same time the United States Government federally recognized the Muwekma Tribe as the Verona Band of Alameda County.

 As the decades passed, the relatives of the modern-day Muwekma-Ohlone continued to live and work in the East Bay.  Since World War I, Muwekma family members proudly served in the U.S. Armed Forces in all of the major conflicts, and are still serving today.  Tribal families enrolled with the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1928 through 1971 as part of the California Indian Jurisdictional Acts.  In the 1960s, they worked to save their Ohlone Indian Cemetery in Fremont from destruction.  In the 1980s, as a formally organized tribal government, the Tribe has worked toward the reinstatement of their Federally Recognized tribal status. 

 As stewards of their ancestral heritage sites, the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe has  demonstrated their continued presence on their ancestral lands through their many publications about the Tribe’s rich history and heritage. 

Makkin Mak Muwekma Wolwoolum, ‘Akkoy Mak-Warep, Manne Mak Hiswi!  We Are Muwekma Ohlone, Welcome To Our Land, Where We Are Born!