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Death of the Muwekma Ohlone Pocket Park


Many, many years ago, there ran a pristine body of fresh water through large expanses of marshes in the southeast sector of present day San Francisco. This body of water ran almost 3 miles inland to Alemany Boulevard and was fed by numerous tributaries, springs and small creeks. This area was the home of a cornucopia of marine wildlife that fed the original human inhabitants — chiefly the Yelamu Ohlone Tribal group, one of the ancestral groups within the present-day Muwekma Ohlone Tribe's historic territory. This body of water is now known as Islais Creek.

Several years ago, on the north shore of Islais Creek, a team of local residents ("Guerilla Gardeners") cleaned, tilled, planted, irrigated and maintained a small open space, which became a sanctuary for native plants, birds, and community. Grant funding would enable the caretakers of the pocket park to undergo a master planning process for restoration and preservation. This community-based plan would celebrate the original history and peoples of the area, expand and preserve the resources of the park for the wider neighborhood and safeguard the area for future generations.

Location: North shore of Islais Creek, adjacent to Pier 80, 1-acre land & 1.5 acre wetland

Background: Small, spontaneous community gardeners have maintained this site for nearly seven years, with the support and permission of the Port of San Francisco.

Project Goals:To assess, plan and initiate the preservation of this existing wildlife refuge for the benefit of our local environment and community.

Long Term Objectives:

  • To enhance open spaces and environmental education efforts in the Southeast Sector
  • To increase awareness of Indigenous Peoples via installation of the Muwekma Ohlone Healing Pole
  • To become an asset to the Bay Trail Project
  • To enhance the role of SF Port in creating shoreline public open spaces.
  • To strengthen the role of pocket parks in all of our urban areas.

Current Grant Awards: Urban Resources Partnership (URP) $30,000

Pending Grant Awards: CDBG Grant via SLUG (up to $60,000)

SF Bay Trails Project - grant writing in process

Major Partners and Supporters: Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, Friends of Islais Creek, United States Department of Agriculture, California Academy of Sciences, SLUG, SF Neighborhood Parks Council, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Urban Resources Partnership, SF Bay View Newspaper, Renaissance Parents of Success, Keller Mitchell, SF Bay Trail Project, Espanola Jackson, Francisco Da Costa, Jim Salerno, RMC Lonestar, Jim Rodriquez, the local business community, and of course the park community gardeners.

Informational Background Of The Yelamu Ohlone Tribal Group Of San Francisco

One Of The Ancestral Groups Within The Present-Day Muwekma Ohlone Tribe's Historic Territory

The region comprising the City and County of San Francisco was controlled by the Yelamu tribal group of Ohlone Indians. According to the comprehensive mission record and ethno geographic studies conducted by anthropologist Randall Milliken, it appears that the first four people from Yelamu were baptized by Father Cambon and the others were baptized by Fathers Palou and Santa Maria between 1777 - 1779. Apparently the first converts from the "rancheria de Yalamu " into Mission Dolores also had relations who lived in the neighboring rancherias (villages) of Sitlintac (located about 2.6 miles northeast of Mission Dolores), Chutchui, Amuctac, Tubsinte, and Petlenuc all located within the present boundaries of San Francisco. Sitlintac and Chutchui were located in the valley of Mission Creek. Amuctac and Tubsinte were established in the Visitation Valley area to the south. The village of Petlenuc may have been near the location of the Presidio. The Ohlone people from these as well as other villages to the south, and across the East Bay, were missionized into Mission Dolores between 1777 to 1787. According to Fathers Palou and Cambon the Ssalsones (the Ohlone tribal group located on the San Mateo Peninsula to the south) were intermarried with the Yelamu and called them Aguazios, which means "Northerners."

Based upon genealogical information derived from the Mission Dolores records, the Yelamu Ohlone people of San Francisco were intermarried with Ohlone groups to the south and across the East Bay, prior to contact with the Spaniards. For example, Fathers Palou, Cambon and Noriega over a period of time baptized the family of a Yelamu chief named Xigmacse (a.k.a. Guimas) who was identified by Palou as the "Captain of the village of this place of the Mission." Two of Xigmacse's wives, Huitanac and Uittanaca (who were sisters) were recorded by Cambon as coming "from the other shore to the east at the place known as Cosopo." Recently some scholars have suggested that the ending "-cse" on a man's name was served as an appellation of distinction or preeminence, thus identifying that person as a chief or one of distinguished status and lineage. In another case of cross-Bay intermarriage between tribal groups involved a Yelamu woman named Tociom. Tociom had a daughter named Jojcote who according to Father Cambon was "born in the mountains to the east on the other side of the bay in the place called by the natives Halchis." The place called "Halchis" is the land of the Jalquin Ohlone Tribe.

It was into this complex and rapidly changing world that a young Jalquin Ohlone man named Liberato Culpecse at the age of 14 years old (born 1787) was baptized at Mission Dolores along with other members of his tribe on November 18, 1801. Seven years later in 1808 Liberato Culpecse married his first wife and she died before 1818. Presumably, after the death of his wife, Liberato was allowed to moved to the Mission San Jose region, where he met his second wife, Efrena Quennatole. Efrena who was Napian/Karquin Ohlone was baptized at Mission San Jose on January 1, 1815. She and Liberato were married on July 13, 1818 by Father Fortuny. Liberato Culpecse and Efrena Quennatole had a son named Dionisio (Nonessa) Liberato and a daughter, Maria Efrena. Both Dionisio and Maria Efrena married other Mission San Jose Indians and they had children who later became the Elders (including the Guzmans and Marine lineages) of the historic Federally Recognized Verona Band (Muwekma) community residing at the following East Bay rancherias: San Lorenzo, Alisal (Pleasanton), Del Mocho (Livermore), Niles, Sunol, and Newark. These Elders also enrolled along with their families with the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the 1928 California Indian Jurisdictional Act and have maintained the integrity of the Muwekma Tribal community. In May 1996, the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR), Bureau of Indian Affairs, made a positive determination of "previous unambiguous Federal Recognition" for the Muwekma Tribe, and in October 2000 further determined that 100 percent of the enrolled members of the Muwekma Tribe are descended from a full blooded ancestor appearing on the 1900, 1905-06 and/or 1910 Federal Indian Censuses.

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