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January 6, 2010 > Eagle Scout project enriches Coyote Hills

Eagle Scout project enriches Coyote Hills

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By William Mancebo

Today, nobody knows exactly what early-day Ohlone-style structures looked like. From various written descriptions, archaeological findings, and a single drawing from 1791, historians have been able to piece together the general size, materials, and methods used by the Ohlone tribes when creating various structures. However, even with this somewhat ambiguous information, Luke Schlobom from Troop 176 decided to tackle the daunting task of creating a semi-subterranean Ohlone structure at Coyote Hills Regional Park for his Eagle Scout Project.

According to park naturalist Beverly Ortiz, "There is a huge demand for cultural programs for schoolchildren...and this is the only park site with a publicly accessible village site." Learning about Native American tribes is part of the curriculum for both third and fourth graders. Many classes take field trips to Coyote Hills to gain valuable insight into how the Tuibum, a specific tribe of Ohlone, lived.

After contacting the park and learning about the need for an Ohlone-style structure model, Schlobohm went to work planning the logistics of the structure. Ortiz points out that Eagle Scout projects are the only projects where people are allowed to work independently of the park staff, as far as planning and implementing the project goes. Because archaeologists have only excavated half of Coyote Hills, Schlobohm built his structure on the part that already had artifacts removed so as not to disturb the preserved village site.

The specific structure Schlobohm made is thatched with redwood bark. He managed to get the bark donated from a lumber company in Santa Cruz. Although redwood trees aren't found within the park, Schlobohm decided to use redwood as opposed to oak because the former is rot-resistant, and therefore will be able to be enjoyed by thousands of people in the future. The model of the structure is similar to both an early-day ceremonial house, but smaller, and a sweathouse, but taller. With the help of his mother, father, and grandfather, he completed the project on Christmas Eve.

Schlobohm's semi-subterranean Ohlone structure will give visitors a sense of how ingeniously these structures were crafted in the past. He was the first Boy Scout to follow through with this hefty project, and will leave behind a lasting educational model for many people to admire for years.

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