The Ohlone

The Background

The Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, are a Native American people of the central California coast. When Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, the Ohlone inhabited the area along the coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley.

Before the Spanish came, the Ohlone lived in more than 50 distinct landholding groups, and did not view themselves as a distinct group. They survived by hunting, fishing, and gathering, in the typical ethnographic California pattern. Originally, the Ohlone religion was shamanism, but in the years 1769 to 1833, the Spanish missions in California had a devastating effect on Ohlone culture. The Ohlone population declined steeply during this period. By 1852, their estimated population was less than 1,000.

The Ohlone inhabited fixed village locations, moving temporarily to gather seasonal foodstuffs like acorns and berries. The Ohlone people lived in Northern California from the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula down to Big Sur in the south, and from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Diablo Range in the east. Their vast region included the San Francisco Peninsula, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay area, as well as present-day Alameda County, Contra Costa County and the Salinas Valley.

The Ohlone lost the vast majority of their population between 1780 and 1850, because of an abysmal birth rate, high infant mortality rate, diseases and social upheaval associated with European immigration into California. By all estimates, the Ohlone were reduced to less than ten percent of their original pre-mission era population. By 1852 the Ohlone population had shrunk to about 864–1,000, and was continuing to decline. By the early 1880s, the northern Ohlone were virtually extinct, and the southern Ohlone people were severely impacted and largely displaced from their communal land grant in the Carmel Valley. To call attention to the plight of the California Indians, Indian Agent, reformer, and popular novelist Helen Hunt Jackson published accounts of her travels among the Mission Indians of California in 1883.

This is the information most relevant to the Ohlone people, for our game area. More detailed information can be found at Wikipedia.

Our Game Interpretation

The Ohlone in our game have all but died out, but some groups remain on reservations. One reservation is located just across from San Francisco, across the bay in the redwood forests. There is a ferry that connects the reservation to the city.

A dip in population in 1849 was attributed to new diseases brought in by settlers, but in reality, a young shaman by the name of Hesutu (Yellow Jacket Nest Rising Out Of The Ground) had led roughly half of the population into the Nevernever for safety. The remaining people chose to remain, fearful of what life would be like in the spirit world. The spirit world was a place for the dead, not the living. They remained, lead by Chief Sewati (Curved Bear Claw).

The Chieftain worked hard to maintain a peaceful home for his people, and they were left in relative solitude. This hinged on the stipulation that they were to keep to a set population limit. If they went over that limit, soldiers would come and forcefully relocate people to other reservations in the state. Often, Children were taken away into town to be educated.

To get around this, the people learned how to enter the Nevernever. They would retreat into the Nevernever to hide when inspectors showed up.

All this time, Hesutu and his band have been living in the Nevernever, brokering deals with the Summer Court for safety. They all have learned how to shapeshift, and they have been terrorizing settlers. Any raid lead by Hesutu’s pack ends in death for someone. They resent the tribesmen who declined to follow them into the Nevernever, seeing them as cowards for trying to co-exist with the settlers.

The Ohlone

In The Emperor's Wake Maniah