The Shellmound Walk.

Black Friday. Emeryville, Ca. 2015

Is a series of protests held at desecrated burial sites around the greater San Francisco, Ca. Bay area. On Black Friday, 2015. Representatives of many indigenous tribal nations, including Ohlone, Apache, Tongan, and local activists all races, gathered in protest at The Bay Street shopping mall, in Emeryville, Ca. As is done there annually in their continued resistance to the theft of their lands, pollution of theirs waters and environments, and the continued desecration of ancient burial grounds, and monuments. 

More info here: http://ipocshellmoundwalk.homestead.com/shellmound.html

Trailer for a documentary about the site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSpyroEgB3Y


California Indigenous Bingo.

My project for “Native Americans” week at school.

Questions that were cool, “Who’s ancestral land are we currently on?”
“Has anyone ever been anywhere in California that wasn’t in the Bay Area? Lets find out what tribe belongs to that place.”
“What does indigenous mean?”
“Are you indigenous just because you were born here, or do you have to have to be culturally tied and invested in a place for a long time, like generations, to be indigenous?”
“What can be indigenous?”

Then they crossed off Ohlone after we had the discussion about who’s land we were on.
Really good day.
Also I made them read the names back to me when they got BINGO so they had to practice difficult pronunciations of tribes like Cahuilla or Acjachemem.

ALSO when I said “Ohlone” one of the girls squealed and shouted, “I’M OHLONE MY DAD IS FULL OHLONE AND I’M HALF.”
And then I realize she has a restraining order on her dad which makes me sad about how she will grow up hella disconnected, so I’m going to work to talk to her more while she’s this age about being disconnected and appropriateness of reconnecting to indigenous communities and maintaining her indigenous identity since she is luckily not going to experience diaspora but may now/eventually have questions I want to be able to get her thinking about and be upfront about what I know.

So, FUCK COLONIALIST EDUCATION that ignores basic concepts like our names, our existence, and what it actually means to be indigenous. My kids now have a basic interest and knowledge about California tribes, what indigenous means, and know some of their names (especially Winnemem Wintu, they wouldn’t stop practicing saying it all day omg).

Activists continue to defend the ancient indigenous burial ground at Glen Cove, south of Vallejo, California, against plans by the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (a local parks and recreation administration) to build a parking lot, restrooms, paved trail etc on the burial site. June 11th, 2011, marked the 59th day of protest at the site with over 250 people participating. Food for the protesters was brought in by a local Indian restaurant and by the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Indian Movement and the South Central Farmers. Indigenous groups with historical ties to the site include the Ohlone, Patwin (Wintun), Bay Miwok, Coast Miwok, Wappo, and Tule River Yokuts.
(Photo via Protect Glen Cove)

Frustrating, but I see why things need to change.

This Saturday I have a meeting with the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center at Mission Dolores to fight to change the state curriculum for fourth graders on how California Indians are portrayed in the Missions. Ironic timing..

Gabe, my little brother who is nine and in fourth grade, started studying Missions today. The day I’ve been nervous about finally arrived.

I walk in the house and see him kinda down.

“What’s wrong?” I ask him

“I started studying about Indians and Missions today,” he said faking a smile

“AWESOME!” I say with totally fake enthusiasm, but hoping for the best… “What did the teacher say about indians?!”

He finally spills why he seems depressed, like it was being held back

“I told the teacher I’m Indian and she told me you can’t be full Indian. She said I’m not a real Indian…”

My blood starts boiling…….

“But our Nana was Indian, and dad is Indian and we are indians too….” he says to me, having to defend his identity from this teacher.

“You’re Indian, you’re Ohlone, it doesn’t matter what she says. Did you ask her if she ever met an Indian?” I ask

“Yeah, she told me she has one friend who is Indian and a real Indian” he says sadly

“I told her my big brother is an archaeologist and works at the Mission and knows our language and everything,” he says, almost like he did something wrong.

A real Indian?

This sickens me to my core, I am livid as I write this. There is no damn reason why a 9 year old has to defend his cultural identity. There is no reason why a 9 year old has to feel insecure. What the fuck is a real Indian? The fact our land was stolen, we have no reservation, our identity was attempted to be wiped out yet we still refuse to let it go, and in 2012 a teacher at a public school is going to tell an Ohlone kid that he’s not a real Indian. Shame.

The cultural genocide continues.

We are going to make this right. Tomorrow, Mama and Papa Medina are having some words with the teacher, and next week… I am going to be making a “presentation” in Gabe’s class on Ohlone culture (like he asked to me to) to show how “real Indians” never give up.

Real Indians fight for what is right.
Real Indians don’t lie about who they are.
Real Indians never surrender.

I’m pretty sure we are real Indians. Everyday is a struggle. But every day we keep going.

I shopped in this area of Emeryville, CA  a few times without knowing about the desecration of these sacred lands.  If you know the SF Bay Area, you definitely know this area where Ikea and shopping area in Emeryville.  Please please please educate yourself and think twice before you shop there.  Think about the people who this land belonged to, and who’s ancestors were buried there.  This area is sacred OHLONE LAND.  Please RESPECT.
Remember what is being taught here before going
to shop on the desecrated burial sites in Emeryville (E-ville).

us ohlone won't take it anymore.

I would like to share with you all a very frustrating email my boss (who is also my cousin Andy Galvan) received from a very disgruntled teacher who seemed upset that I am telling “too much” of the Ohlone story. Interesting, that 20 Missions focus almost solely on the Spanish invaders, but the one Mission has been making strides is getting attacked for being “too-Indian.”

I thank my cousin Andy from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and responding to her crazy, condescending words in a professional manner. Remember, education doesn’t always give common sense. I have attached her complaint email, and his response.



Dear Mr. Galvan - As a Spanish teacher who has been bringing my classes to Mission Dolores on and off for …20 years (and a bite to eat at a local taqueria afterwards) I would like to offer my perspective on your current tours. This will be the second time we have had Vincent as our tour guide….a young man with very sincere and good intentions. He is interesting and good with children. However.. he presents a one-sided view and the children walk away without any idea of Spanish customs, ways of dressing, their ideals or stories of Spanish California. There needs to be balance in the tour. At Waldorf school we tell stories. A story of an Ohlone native could also be balanced with the story of De Anza or Moraga or the first nun or almost any Spanish person. Maybe a wife who accompanied her husband. Perhaps it is felt that the children already have that perspective ..but truly they do not. What were the customs and clothing? What was the landscape around the mission? There were bears in the hills, and otter by the thousands in the Bay, and migrations of birds that blackened the skies. The women learned to sew and cook and were very gracious and devout hostesses. Anything that would give the children a view back into time.

Many were looking at the silver artifacts and garments - but nothing was mentioned about them…or the statues in the garden… One of our students had never been in a church before. What were the ideals that made them build a church? Also, some of our students are of Spanish heritage and clearly many more who come to Mission Dolores. Are they to walk away with no sense of the people of that time…just that they were oppressors of innocent native Americans? (That is the only sense that was imparted.)

I will need to find an alternative field trip for my Spanish classes unless you can have tour guides impart some sense of the Spanish heritage as well as the native Californians. I myself have native American ancestry…so I am very supportive of making it clear that native americans had a thriving society and suffered oppression. I also have Cultural Anthropology background …and years of teaching background…and want children to appreciate all cultures. Young children can be turned off by history if no sense of wonder (and fun) is established about this history. And when you walk into the Mission - one can feel that time has stopped. Why not help them to feel the wonder….and leave them with a few thoughts of hope among people? Vincent - as I mentioned - is young and has a particular agenda. I hope he and the mission can find a way to make the experience for these children more wholistic…and give them some pride in their Spanish ancestry as well. After all - the mission is in the middle of “The Mission District.”

Sincerely, Denise Deneaux Marin Waldorf School




hi there,

the style and content of Vincent Medina’s tour has my complete support.

Your perspective on the recent tour guided by Vincent is rare and unique in that all others who contact me after having experienced a tour with Vincent, voice only praise and enthusiasm in response to his presentation. The majority specifically request Vincent to be their guide when they book their next visit.

Today one becomes a little skeptical when one looks at history. Is it really worthwhile to take so much trouble to engage in historical research, to publish, and to lose so much time in the study of the history of the Church, of the Mission, and of the history of the Franciscans? After all, those historical records are lying there, dry as dust, in the archives. In retrospect, nothing can be changed now anyway. The present and the future are by far now much more important; it still lies within our power, and it is our responsibility to form it in a rational way.

History can never be changed, but it can change and inspire both the present and the future. Both the secular history of colonialism and the missionary history within the Church are colored by the fact that we have been indulging for a long time in a form of history-writing that was based on a Euro-centric view of the world. It is a history seen and written by Europeans in a triumphalist and self-justifying tone.

But that was only one half of the story, namely the story told by the victors. It was not until the 1950s as that history began to be written in Asia, Africa and Latin American, which shows the less laudable side of the Spanish Colonial movement. It is an unflattering portrait and one which reflects the way the oppressed colonial people thought and reacted.

I became curator of Old Mission Dolores on February 1, 2004, the first American Indian to oversee a California Mission. As curator I have the prodigious responsibility for running the daily operations of an historic site and museum that is also a working neighborhood church.

I’ve often joked about hanging a banner on the facade of the Old Mission that reads “Under New Management.”

The challenge at hand, is to present an interpretation of the historical records that is comprehensive, objective and critical. In this constant search for truth and this continual quest for fuller knowledge, it is inevitable that what one generation learns as fact and may even come to revere as absolute truth, subsequently may be reevaluated as incomplete, sometimes inaccurate and on occasion downright false. With this in mind, I have set two goals for my tenure as curator: to tell the accurate story of my ancestors and to give that story an academic slant.

Most people associate mission history with the early Spanish invaders and uninvited occupiers. The Ohlones and other peoples who lived in the communities surrounding the missions are left out of the story or portrayed only as victims of forced labor.

Proudly, I will tell anyone who will listen, that the missions were built by Indians and for Indians. There is much that has been neglected in the telling of the history of the Mission Indians. Because of the Spanish invasion, the native world was overwhelmed. The environment was dramatically damaged with the introduction of foreign plants and animals. The flu and measles epidemics were very destructive. It was a time of survival and my ancestors came into the missions to survive.

Even the casual acquaintance with history reveals it is a spiraling science, constantly subject to revision and development, as new discoveries are made, as more archives become accessible and as libraries are explored thoroughly. The acute researcher must broaden the field of investigation beyond mere documentation: one must be familiar with the latest findings and evaluated discoveries of the related sciences, such as archaeology and anthropology, geography, ethnology, sociology, and the like.

I’m rather pleased to report that I am not the only Ohlone involved in presenting interpretive programs relating to California Indians and Missions. Today, at the dawn of a new millennium, many Ohlone people as either members of organized tribal groups or as unaffiliated individuals are undertaking both public and private projects. Some are involved in protecting archaeological and historic sites. Others are consultants to groups developing exhibits on the culture and history of the Ohlones. And even others are conducting traditional religious worship services. No longer do we accept merely being presented as a passive hunter-gatherer culture; long gone and something to be remembered.

The Indian people who responsibly handle this particular section of our Golden State’s history, at least in the case of the individuals with whom I have had the pleasure to become acquainted, generally have impressed me with their sincere interest, their true enthusiasm and their real anxiety to present the accurate picture of the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Bay Region.

This desire for an accurate presentation of the historical facts is focused not only on events of the long past, but also our rather recent past.

The Presidio of San Francisco like Mission Dolores is a place of survival for Indian people. It represents a colonial institutional that was responsible for the suppression of the traditional life ways of our ancestors. We who return to it are like the Jews of Germany and Poland of World War II returning to the Nazi concentration camps.

Granted the evolutionary nature of the historical sciences, I will be among the first to admit that mistakes have been made in the past, are being committed in the present and will occur in the future.

Competent historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnohistorians, and the such, would agree that an attempt to produce the definitive study of the California Indians of the San Francisco Bay Region and its Missions, covering twenty to thirty centuries with flawless accuracy is veritably the academic ideal.

The fundamental point I am reiterating is that the mines and their ores are available in quantity ever increasing. It remains our task to delve even more deeply into the quarries of learning and to carve for ourselves the living image in lineaments that are true and fair, realistic and objective. The sole bar before which we stand is that of history, where the only norms are fact and truth, evaluated correctly and interpreted legitimately.

Certainly, much of what I have written is subjective, many colleagues do their best to keep me objective. I agree that is comparatively easy to point out mistakes and simple to indicate errors. It is totally different and difficult to correct those mistakes and to supplant those errors with critical truth. Such is the task before all of us who study and write about the Alta California Franciscan Missions. It must be realized that such an accomplishment is necessarily slow, tedious and painstaking.

My family is proud of our connection with the Alta California Franciscan Missions; they are places where our ancestors converted to Christianity. According to family oral traditions, my great-great grandfather laid the cornerstone of the original Mission San Jose buildings, and my father laid the cornerstone of the restored Mission Church in 1982. And so the Missions, in many ways, are places of pilgrimage for me and many members of my family.

Often, I spend my own reflective and quiet time sitting inside the Old Mission Dolores chapel as tourists browse the ornate altars and Ohlone ceiling paintings. At Old Mission Dolores, as is the case at the reconstructed Mission San Jose Church, my favorite place is near the baptismal font (the Mission Dolores reconstructed font dates from 1995). At Mission San Jose, the old hand-painted copper font has been there since 1810, it is the place where my great-grandmother’s baptism was recorded in 1864. It is known that her parents were baptized there as well (Avelina’s grandfather Liberato was baptized at Mission Dolores). When I go to either font, I can feel the connection with my blood family over the generations, as well as my faith family over two millennia, reaching back to the river Jordan, and the saving waters poured out there.

As other Americans look for their roots in such far off places as Portugal, Spain, The Philippines, Vietnam, Ireland or Germany, I just step out the front door of my home, walk up the street to Mission San Jose (our get in my vehicle and drive 40 miles to Mission Dolores)-and I’m home, in those same places where my ancestors have lived and prayed for thousands of years.
My thoughts may be faltering, and my words may be stumbling, but my appreciation of the situation is guided by an unquestionable love and respect for my ancestors. In the meanwhile, may God continue to bless you and your family and the good works that you do.

Amar a Dios1

Andrew A. Galvan
An Ohlone, Bay Miwok, Plains Miwok, Coast Miwok and Patwin “Mission Indian”.
Curator, Old Mission Dolores, San Francisco
Principal Historian, Archaeor, Archaeological Consultants
President, Board of Directors, The Ohlone Indian Tribe, Inc.
Immediate Past President, Board of Directors, The Committee for the Restoration of Mission San Jose
Member, Board of Directors, The Junipero SERRA CAUSE for Canonization
Member, and Past President (1994-1997) Board of Directors, The California Mission Studies Association
Founding Member, The California Missions Foundation
Team Member, The Franciscan Pilgrimage Program

Honesty, if someone is going to reblog a very personal post of what i wrote about my little brother being shamed by his teacher for his identity, then correct me by writing ” *native American ” when I explicitly wrote “Indian,” a big FUCK YOU to you. I am Ohlone. I am Indian. Do not tell people how to identify their own culture.

Activists continue to defend the ancient indigenous burial ground at Glen Cove, south of Vallejo, California, against plans by the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (a local parks and recreation administration) to build a parking lot, restrooms, paved trail etc on the burial site. July 5th, 2011, marked the 83rd day of protest at the site. Indigenous groups with historical ties to the site include the Ohlone, Patwin (Wintun), Bay Miwok, Coast Miwok, Wappo, and Tule River Yokuts. (See also: 1, 2, 3)
(Photo via Protect Glen Cove)

Day 319 — Misión San Francisco de Asís

Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded June 29, 1776. The settlement was named for St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, but was also commonly known as “Mission Dolores” owing to the presence of a nearby creek named Arroyo de los Dolores, or “Creek of Sorrows." 

Mission Dolores is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Junipero Serra. The walls are four feet thick, except for the walls facing Dolores Street, which are ten feet thick. Even the 1906 earthquake could not budge the adobe structure. 

The exquisitely small chapel is distinguished by the redwood used in the interior, the ceiling beams decorated in brightly painted native designs, and the wooden columns painted to look like marble. The principal altar was brought by ship from Mexico in 1796, while the two side altars followed in 1810. 

You can read a timeline of Mission Dolores’ history here.

Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. #BayArea #NorCal #Sovereignty #Ohlone #Muwekma #SanFrancisco #Oakland #RespectDue #PeepGame #BayBidness #RaiderNation #Raiders #OaklandRaiders #HuntersPoint #Candlestick #TheStick #Brisbane #NativeAmericans #America #Olmec #NGE120 #KnowledgeBorn #5Elements #UniversalZulu

Burial Site Controversy Resolved

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- The City of Santa Cruz announced Monday that a fight over a new home development on a Native American burial ground is over.

In a news release, the city said after a series of “comprehensive discussions, KB Home and the Ohlone Elders have reached a positive resolution over the future of the Market Street ‘Knoll’ site, where Native American remains had been found.

The agreement happened Monday morning at the same time the group, "Save the Knoll" had planned a protest against the developer. The "call to action” was for supporters to march to city hall to protect the Ohlone burial and Village site at Branciforte Creek.

“Save the Knoll” said KB Homes, a housing developer, had attempted to push forward with planned construction of seven new homes on the Branciforte Creek Knoll, an ancient Ohlone village and burial site in Santa Cruz.

The city said in a news release the agreement calls for “KB Home to set aside, from future development, the artifact-rich area of the project that had been the subject of the talks, preserving the area for its archeological history. Further, KB Home will offer an easement to protect the area from disturbance in perpetuity, with limited access provided only to those of Ohlone descent for ceremonial purposes. This resolution honors the Ohlone’s wishes to preserve and protect their ancestral remains and artifacts.” Read more.
Watch on ohlone.tumblr.com

I had one of the more eye opening experiences in recent days at Heyday’s office when I participated in this powerful experience video chatting with strangers on the other side of the world, in Gaza, through something called the Virtual Dinner Guest Project. We video-chatted through Skype, and even shared a (virtual) meal; they ate dinner (in Palestine) as we (in California) ate breakfast.

The unique thing was it was a sharing – we, as American Indians, shared the experiences with Palestinians in Gaza. The powerful emotions were that our experiences were shared, overlapping, and similar.

We talked about discrimination, fear, government oppression, family, language, stereotypes, love, religion – all things that unite us as members of humanity. Some people were quite emotional, and we shared a lot of laughs.

Now I can’t say I haven’t met a person in Gaza – nor can I entirely rely on Western media exposure that is full of a lack of humanizing the story of Palestinians in Gaza as simply “us against them.” The reality is far more complex.

We have a unique obligation as oppressed people to support other oppressed people. This goes further than religion, or race, or color. It moves beyond stereotypes, caricatures, and is rooted in social justice, and a common human decency for one another.

We traded poetry – they in Arabic, and me in Chochenyo, the Native language of Berkeley. The words I said are every day can be a struggle, but every day we keep going. The words are more relevant today than they were yesterday.

Makkin mak hemmen, we are united. Makkin mak muwekma – we are people.