For thousands of years, the Bay Area has been the home of many, diverse groups of Indigenous Peoples with complex cultures and relationships to the land. Join Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and California State Parks for a three-part webinar series delivered by Mark Hylkema, California State Parks Archaeologist and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Foothill College. Mark will draw from over 40 years of experience studying the history of California native people, focusing on Indigenous cultures of the Peninsula and the South Bay. This is an exciting opportunity to hear Mark share his knowledge and experience in an online webinar format for the very first time! The event is also supported by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
Register once and you’re in for all three webinars.



Indigenous Peoples of the Bay Area Part 1: Overview – June 12

Before the Spanish arrived here and before California became a part of the United States, the Bay Area was one of the most densely populated and linguistically diverse areas in North America. This session is a broad overview of historic Indigenous communities in our area based on what we know of archaeological studies and oral histories. Participants will learn a basic framework for understanding the complex and varied native communities of the Peninsula and the South Bay.



Indigenous Peoples of the Bay Area Part 2: Ethnobotany and Land Stewardship – June 19

California ecosystems have evolved with thoughtful active management by diverse human communities over thousands of years. This session will examine some of the interactions Indigenous Peoples of the Bay Area had (and still have) with our landscape. We will highlight specific plant and animal relationships, as well as stewardship practices using examples from our local landscape. 



Indigenous Peoples of the Bay Area Part 3: Economy, Spirituality, and Culture – June 26

This session will focus on interesting aspects of what we know about historic Indigenous culture, society, economy and spirituality. Participants will hear about examples of trade networks that existed, taking products made and collected by Bay Area communities far and wide. They’ll also learn about aspects of village life, spirituality, and sacred relationships with our local landscape. We’ll also share some resources for how you can learn and support contemporary Indigenous communities in our area.


More about our Instructor, Mark Hylkema

Mark Hylkema holds an M.A. of Anthropology from San Jose State University. He worked as an Archaeologist with the California Department of Transportation for 12 years, prior to his current role as an Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison for the Santa Cruz District of California State Parks. Mark has led a variety of investigations throughout the Peninsula and South Bay, including many areas protected by Peninsula Open Space Trust and our Partners. A primary focus of his work has been to support contemporary local Indigenous groups throughout his career. 


This event is part of POST’s community event series, which is open to the general public as well as POST donors. We hope you’ll join us! We also curate a separate series of private events for our donors. Learn how you can support POST here:

About our Partners

Peninsula Open Space Trust protects and cares for open space, farms and parkland in and around Silicon Valley. Since 1977, POST has protected over 76,000 acres in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties.

California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is an independent special district in the San Francisco Bay Area that has preserved a regional greenbelt system of over 63,000 acres of public land and manages 26 open space preserves.

Midpen logo.

Learn more about Contemporary Tribes and Current Issues:

It is important to reiterate that while this webinar series is a discussion of history here in the Bay Area, it is not a substitute for educating ourselves about current day Tribes and Indigenous organizations within our area, as well as supporting these causes. Please read below for additional resources that can help orient you to contemporary local Tribes and indigenous organizations. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and we encourage viewers to reach out to POST with additional resources to include.

  • Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and affiliated Amah Mutsun Land Trust – The Amah Mutsun trace their ancestry and heritage through a time when the Spanish occupied their traditional lands and involuntarily held local native people in missions San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz.
  • Muwekma Ohlone Tribe – The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe is comprised of all the known surviving lineages indigenous to the San Francisco Bay Region who trace their ancestry through the Missions Dolores, Santa Clara and San Jose, and who are also members of the historic Federally recognized Verona Band of Alameda County.
  • Ramaytush Ohlone – The Ramaytush (pronounced rah-my-toosh) are the original peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the Ramaytush Ohlone numbered approximately 1500 persons, but by the end the Mission Period only a few families had survived. Today, only one lineage is know to have produced living descendants in the present. Those descendants comprise the membership of the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone (ARO) today.
  • Tamien Nation – The vision of Tamien Nation is to acquire lands within their aboriginal territory to live our lifeways with dignity, peace, and prosperity.
  • Confederation of Ohlone People – The Confederation of Ohlone People is a cooperative made up of the descendants of Ohlone people, as well as community advocates. Their common mission is to increase the visibility and interests of present day Ohlone. Today members of the cooperative are involved in the Land Acknowledgement movement, cultural revitalization, education, leveraging the arts to create visibility and tell the Ohlone story, providing mediation services, and cultural site preservation.
  • Indian Canyon – During the 1700s and 1800s Indian Canyon served as a safe haven for local Indigenous peoples who were being abducted/recruited/bribed/transported to the Missions by the Spaniards. The local Ohlone peoples knew the terrain and were able to traverse the territory into the secluded valley of Indian Canyon south of Hollister.  Since then, Indian Canyon has remained a safe haven.
  • Cafe Ohlone is a place to understand the importance of the revival of Ohlone foodways through memories of elders, where this first Californian cuisine is prepared by Ohlone standards. It is also a place for meaningful, boundary-breaking dialogue, a place where poetry and song in California Indian languages and organized talks from leaders in the Ohlone community share living stories.
  • The Sogorea Te Land Trust is an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship. Sogorea Te creates opportunities for all people living in Ohlone territory to work together to re-envision the Bay Area community and what it means to live on Ohlone land.

Books Mark Hylkema recommended in Session 2:

  •  Tending the Wild by M. Kat Anderson
  • California Indians and Their Environment by Kent Lightfoot and Otis Parrish
  • An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley
  • Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream by Greg Sarris

Thank you, and we look forward to joining you on this journey of learning!

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