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October 2, 2012 > Gathering of the Ohlone Peoples

Gathering of the Ohlone Peoples

By Isabella Ohlmeyer

Embrace the beauty of history and culture wholeheartedly at Coyote Hills' 19th annual "Gathering the of Ohlone Peoples" on Sunday, October 7. "At this event, Ohlone descendants residing in the San Luis Obispo area will be reuniting with their fellow Ohlone people in Fremont just for this very special gathering," said Teagan French, interpretive student aid at East Bay Regional Park District.

The gathering first began as an annual ritual in 1993 with only 10 Ohlone Native Americans reconnecting their tribes. Over the years, over 75 Ohlone people volunteer for this event with pride of their cultural background. This year, the event is expecting over 2,000 attendees, including Ohlone people and the general public.

"Everything that will occur at the event is Ohlone specific. We will show who Ohlone people are today and the types of cultural involvements and even modern day issues," said Beverly Ortiz, coordinator of the Ohlone gathering and naturalist with East Bay Regional Park District.

Ohlone people can share not only tangible aspects of their culture, but profound, creative, and inspiring ways that they continue their culture.

Traditional activities will take place including storytelling, fire-making, flintnapping, music, songs, dance, corn processing, and tule boat making. Storytelling topics will include particular Ohlone ceremonies, preservation of sacred sites, and what it is like to grow up Ohlone. There was never a single Ohlone tribe; the many tribes who make up the name will be present. Honoring their native tongue, the Rumsen and Chochenyo languages are two of eight Ohlone languages that will be spoken through storytelling and song at the gathering.

Manzanita berry cider will be offered as refreshment to attendees along with acorn mush and Chia seeded candy. Activities for children will include how to make elderberry flutes, a type of Ohlone instrument. For adults, fire-making will be demonstrated, showing how to make fire the traditional way - without using matches. There will also be workshops on jewelry making, creating jewelry with grape pine nuts.

The Ohlone tribes plan to introduce people to the Ohlone wellness project as well as a 1,000 Hummingbird ceremony for the healing of the earth. There will also be a walk to commemorate village sites affected by urbanization.

Unique dances will be showcased by groups Amah-ka-Tura and Hiumaya - a word meaning hummingbird. The cultural dances are of Rumsien tribal people, blended with dance traditions of other native tribal groups.

Many people in the Fremont area are not aware that the Ohlone tribes still exist and this gathering is a perfect event to learn about their culture and presence. "Keep our culture alive because it keeps our culture together, that way we know our people are still here," said Patrick Orozco, founder of Amah-ka-Tura dance group.

Ortiz concluded by saying, "This is the only special event where people have an opportunity to interact with a large group of Ohlone people and not only learn about their past, but who they are today."

This event is free and open to the public, but there is a $5 parking fee.

Gathering of the Ohlone Peoples
Sunday, Oct 7
10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Coyote Hills Regional Park
8000 Patterson Ranch Road, Fremont
(510) 544-3220
Free; $5 parking

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