Friday, June 03, 2011

The Ohlone Tribe Returns to San Francisco

The Rumsen Ohlone tribe from Pomona arrived back in San Francisco today for a ceremony and dance in City Hall, 200 years after being driven out of the Bay Area. According to a website called Ohlone Profiles:
"The Ohlone people lived in the Bay Area for many millennia before 1775 when the first European ship arrived. In 1776, life changed drastically when the Hispanic Empire established the Mission in San Francisco. Within six weeks, all of the Ohlone that were living in what is now San Francisco were decimated, scattered, or brought into service at the Mission. The approximately 20,000 Ohlone people who had been living in the Bay Area at this time were reduced to less than 2,000 by 1810."

"In the Missions, the Ohlone were strictly prohibited from practicing their ceremonies, and many of their dances and songs were lost, as well as much of their language. Their numbers continued to decline and in 1834, Mexico ended the Mission system and most of the remaining native people in San Francisco, including ancestors of the Rumsen Ohlone Tribe, moved south to Carmel. When the United States defeated Mexico in 1848 and took control of California, the Ohlone were never recognized by the government. At that time, the murdering of native people was common and the Rumsen Ohlone fled to Southern California, where they could more easily survive, working on ranches."

"Today, the Rumsen Ohlone Tribe lives in and near Pomona, California, under the leadership of Tony Cerda (above left). The 2,000 members continue to sustain their cultural traditions, and although the United States government refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Ohlone, we invite you to join with us in celebrating their return to San Francisco, sharing the joy and beauty of their culture."

The tribe has been invited by the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival to host "an historic California Indian Big Time Gathering on Saturday, June 18, from noon to 11pm throughout Yerba Buena Gardens featuring hundreds of California tribal members in dance, music and other cultural presentations, as well as participatory opportunities for the public throughout the day. Participating tribes include Elem Indian Colony Tribe, Pit River Maidu Tribe, Winnemum Wintu Tribe, Shingle Springs Miwok Tribe, Stewarts Point Kashaya Band of Pomo and Manchester Pomo Tribe."

They will also be performing at the Yerba Buena Center Theatre on July 1-3 as part of a mixed program on the last weekend of the festival (click here for more info). Welcome home, Ohlone.

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