Native American Culture

“The growing and dying of the moon reminds us of our ignorance which comes and goes- but when the moon is full it is as if the Great Spirit were upon the whole world.”– Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

“Respect means listening until everyone has been heard and understood, only then is there a possibility of “Balance and Harmony” the goal of Indian Spirituality.”– Dave Chief, Grandfather of Red Dog

Where is the native American culture, where is evidence of the people who lived with so much wisdom? I know we are not in the Wild West or in Arizona, but I thought the native Americans from my many children’s books, dress-up birthday parties or ‘Carnival’ lived all over the States.

To tame my curiosity I went on a quest to learn more about the history of the native American culture in the Bay Area. It took me a while but with the help of some people I found a lovely little museum nestled in the beautiful Coyote Hills Regional Park in the East Bay…and finally I found what I was looking for – a tiny bit of history on the people who lived and still live here long before anyone else.

To my surprise I realized that quite a few different groups of native Indians lived in California and each group specialized to survive in different environments such as the coastal region, the Central Valley and the mountain regions. Every groups traded with goods they couldn’t find in their area, for instance shells, leather, etc.

The East Bay area’s original inhabitants were the ancestors of the Ohlone Indians, hunters and gatherers whose skills enabled them to live well off the land. Ask the staff in the visitor center to show you the video on Ohlone culture. Sometimes they don’t show it, but when you ask they put it on. It is a great 20 minute summary on how the Ohlone Indians lived in this area. I walked away enlightened about the history of California’s people.

Another great way to actually meet native Indian people is to attend the Stanford Powwow, which takes place every year in May on Mother’s Day weekend. A modern Powwow is an event where both native American and non-native American people meet to dance, sing and socialize, and honor American Indian culture. It is a great colorful and vibrant event which you should not miss.

For more information visit the Native American Cultural Center at Stanford. They have a library and ongoing events in the area to raise awareness about native American culture.

Enjoying going on a quest and find some wisdom on the way : )


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