The land in POST’s working area has been home to many distinct communities of Native people since time immemorial. We work to conserve and care for these lands — the ancestral territory of at least four contemporary Indigenous communities: the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Muwekma Ohlone, Ramaytush Ohlone and Tamien Nation. These groups have survived centuries of oppression and displacement, and are the past, present and future caretakers of this land.


Piecing Together a Complex History

The Bay Area has always been a popular place for people to live. Archeological remains dating from before European contact indicate that this landscape was once one of the most densely populated areas in all of North America. The social, political, economic, religious, linguistic and material heritage of this place is deeply profound.

The Indigenous people who lived — and live — within POST’s working area (San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties) are comprised of a number of tribes, smaller tribal bands and individuals, many of whom are known colloquially as the “Ohlone.” At one time, there were at least 58 Ohlone tribes in the greater Bay Area, many with their own distinct languages and cultural identities.

Through more than two centuries of displacement, oppression and genocide, the descendants of these tribal bands have been left scattered and disenfranchised. In some cases, the lineage of family groups and entire tribes has been completely extinguished. It is a brutal, ugly history and one that has left deep scars. However, there are also examples across our region where lineages, oral histories and traditions have survived due to the resilience and strength of these communities despite extreme adversity.

The territories, genealogy, languages and practices of these communities are still being pieced back together by descendants of the Indigenous people of the Bay Area, after so many years of lost culture. At POST, we recognize Native Americans’ historical and present-day struggles, but we also want to celebrate their history, presence and roles in caring for the lands we love so much. In doing so, we hope to inspire others to support Indigenous communities and deepen our collective cultural understanding.

The Lay of the Land

Today, there are at least four distinct contemporary native communities identified in POST’s working area: the Amah Mutsun, Muwekma Ohlone, Ramaytush Ohlone and Tamien Nation. Members of these modern tribal organizations trace their ancestry to the people who, for thousands of years, cared for the lands we work to protect.

These tribal organizations are themselves working to restore healthy relationships to their traditional territories and to honor and acknowledge the spirit and lives of their ancestors. POST is working to build strong partnerships with local tribal groups as a way to honor the Indigenous history of California and to support Native American life and culture.

Resources for Learning:

  • Native
    This web-based map shows you what indigenous land you’re on or visiting. Since territories overlap and are still frequently debated, we recommend referencing individual tribes’ websites for their perspectives as well.
  • The Indigenous History of the Bay Area: A 3-part Webinar
    This educational webinar series is a useful resource, presented by Mark Hylkema, a California State Parks archaeologist and adjunct professor of anthropology at Foothill College.
  • Overview of California’s Genocide
    This difficult but critically important part of our shared history is something we need to better acknowledge. A related, recent article is located here on
  • Bay Area Equity Access: Indigenous Populations in the Bay Area
    Native communities persist today and are active in efforts to preserve and revive the culture. According to the U.S. Census, the Indigenous population in the Bay Area is 18,500 strong and is projected to grow over the next few decades.
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