Seeking a tribal home | April 8, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 8, 2022

Seeking a tribal home

The Muwekma Ohlone have been here for more than 2,000 years. The government says they're not a tribe.

by Sue Dremann

They have lived in the Bay Area for thousands of years, were enslaved by the Spanish conquerors and bounty hunted by Americans. The Native American tribe the Muwekma Ohlone were forced to hide on Spanish rancherias, landless, their numbers dwindling to the point that scholars in the 1920s claimed they were extinct.

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Email Staff Writer Sue Dremann at [email protected] In a box: To read more of the Weekly's past coverage of the Muwekma Ohlone, visit For the The Muwekma Ohlone genomic study: "Ancient and modern genomics of the Ohlone Indigenous population of California," California Senate Joint Resolution 13: ABOUT THE COVER Muwekma Ohlone Tribe Vice Chair Monica Arellano, left, and Chair Charlene Nijmeh, right, stand in front of the exhibit "California Stories from Th?mien to Santa Clara" in Santa Clara. Photo by Magali Gauthier. Cover by Douglas Young.


Posted by Shirley 'Mac'
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Shirley 'Mac' is a registered user.

Excellent article. Thank you Sue Dremann. I had no idea Muwekma Ohlone descendants were not recognized as a tribe. What injustice not to receive benefits as other tribal descendants in other parts of the country receive from the federal government. Our European ancestors destroyed the indigenous culture for their own benefit, a very black mark on our history. I raise my voice that more than 9 of 15 votes needed in the Governmental Organization Committee are received to pass the resolution to the full CA Senate for a positive outcome then with CA support proceed with resolution with Department of Interior of our nation.

Posted by James Laudereaux
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2022 at 12:46 pm

James Laudereaux is a registered user.

"Other tribes have been privately lobbying against recognition for the Muwekma Ohlone, claiming that once they receive their tribal status they will build a casino in the Bay Area, Nijmeh said."

How petty. Shouldn't the tribes be supportive of one another?

Sounds like greed to me.

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2022 at 11:15 pm

felix is a registered user.

Our homes and businesses in Palo Alto and Stanford are on land they once inhabited till they were driven off it.
We should formally acknowledge that and them with a plaque at City Hall Plaza or Heritage Park.

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2022 at 11:17 pm

felix is a registered user.

And support gaining tribal recognition.

Posted by Barry Winslow
a resident of University South
on Apr 9, 2022 at 11:20 am

Barry Winslow is a registered user.

"Shouldn't the tribes be supportive of one another?"

We live in a period of time where there is ongoing disunity and pardon the pun, tribalism.

The Native American casinos in CA are also lobbying against the legalization of online sports betting in California.

There is enough money to go around so why be so greedy?

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 9, 2022 at 1:15 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Stanford located an extensive burial ground when construction personnel found an Ohlone grave site before building a new Ronald McDonald House. Stanford’s archealogists determined and verified this site and had remains removed. Yes we here
are living on Ohlone land. The powers that be must grant recognition to this tribe as that is the right thing to do. As this report was fact checked by Sue Dremann then I say shame on anyone who would lobby against the Ohlone people getting their long overdue legal affirmation.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 9, 2022 at 5:50 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

"First People"? What about the rest of us? What about those who came before them? And who dreamed up that incredibly childish, politically correct name? Damn, I'm British and German. And my wife is British and French. And we both come from somewhere in Africa if you go back far enough. Why don't you call them "Asians" since that is the previous continent of their origin? But "First People". Give me a freaking break. Enough is enough. Time to face reality, guys.

Posted by Hinrich
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2022 at 8:38 am

Hinrich is a registered user.

I believe it’s time to sunset the treaties for all tribes. We have shared a continent, a history, and in many ways a culture for hundreds of years. We are all Americans today and even if a few generations back, we are all once from other cultures. Many of those cultures persisted in places that were overrun by others, merged with other lands, changed governance in the course of natural evolutions, wars, and migrations. My own family, traced back over five hundred years in one place on the planet were slowly replaced by newcomers and circumstances that compelled them to go elsewhere. Those are the dynamics of history that impact everyone over time. Today, millions - as many as 26 million by some counts - are flooding into our country because some believe that we should open the borders to anyone who wants to come to our illegal ‘sanctuary cities’. Those millions flood the space and culture of those who were already here. We don’t discuss or debate the consequences to those who were here before. Like the European migrations westward into the new world, there is displacement of what was here before. We open the gate without much worry about how that might make it worse for the poor already here. It’s a mistake, and an injustice to future citizens, not to finally integrate - every child, regardless of their heritage, should be part of the greater shared culture. There should not be groups walled off in separate ‘reservations’ - time enough to join the whole. Do we really need to endow another group with guaranteed government payments or another Casino?

Posted by Nancy Tate
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 10, 2022 at 10:09 am

Nancy Tate is a registered user.

In the event of an official recognition of the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, would they be granted any sovereign rights to existing Palo Alto real properties?

In some ways, it would be proper to return the land to its rightful owners but I suspect that many Palo Alto residents might beg to differ.

This will be the truest test of Palo Alto's ongoing dedication to racial diversity and economic equality.

Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Apr 11, 2022 at 7:42 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Other recognized tribes in California have purchased their land. Recognition would give them sovereign rights of ownership to that land. The Muwekma have said they want to create a land trust.

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