Ohlone Indians

Anthropology 6, Cabrillo College, Fall Semester 1999
Chuck Smith, Instructor

Class meets from 6 to 9:10 p.m. in Room 431 for nine (9) consecutive Wednesdays, beginning 1 September 1999 and ending 27 October 1999. In addition, ALL students will be required to participate in two mandatory fieldtrips: the first one on October 15 and 16; the second on October 17.

Course Description
Course Objectives
Required Readings
Performance Evaluations
Instructor Information
Historical Sketch
Culture Areas
Web Sites

Course Description

This course is primarily designed to provide an introduction to the socio-cultural evolution of the indigenous peoples of California, especially in relation to those historical-cultural experiences likely to have contributed to the present-day conditions of native communities and individuals. The lectures explore the history of the native peoples, beginning with their first appearance and continuing chronologically to the present. Interwoven with this historical account are ethnographic descriptions of selected Native Californian societies (both past and present).

Attempting to discuss the vast evolutionary history and cultural diversity of the Native Californian peoples is both a daunting task and humbling prospect, as well as lying beyond the scope of any one course. Therefore, I will make some generalizations, exclude some time periods, and discuss in detail only certain societies and certain events and experiences. I make no attempt to include those Native American groups who lived in what came to be called Baja California (except for those groups whose original homelands included both what is now Alta and Baja California).

Before the coming of the Europeans to California, California's indigenous peoples occupied many varied habitats and developed a wide range of technological, sociological and ideological systems to better fit themselves to their environments. Their ecological diversity was matched by an astonishing linguistic, and to some extent, cultural proliferation and differentiation. The course demonstrates how the native peoples were situated within the interlocking, self-sustaining natural systems they inhabited. It also summarizes the destruction of native lifeways, the decimation of the population and consequent culture losses as a result of the European and American onslaught, and shows how various native communities responded, and what the nature of Indian existence is today for California's First Peoples. The native peoples of California were and are a people with a qualitatively different view of their place in the order of things, especially when contrasted with the Euro-American and Anglo-American world view. And while we today are perhaps not prepared to mimic their lifestyle, it might not hurt if we got inside their heads and absorbed some of the basic assumptions of their world view. The California Indians have a lot to tell us... if we learn to listen.

Disclaimer - Whose Facts and Interpretations?

Michael Dorris, Modoc Indian author, offers some sound advice on the problems associated with doing Native American history. He notes that whether we are Native or not, whether we hail from the U.S. or not, we never approach that Native American history with a blank slate. We all carry a host of assumptions and expectations unconsciously internalized, codified, and given "validity" and meaning through exposure to countless Hollywood westerns, T.V. programs, novels (including those of Tony Hillerman and James Fenimore Cooper), by childhood cowboy-and-Indian games, and by admonitions from our parents to "stop acting like a bunch of wild Indians." From these multiple sources come our deep-seated images of "Indians:" be they the noble "redman" (think of Squanto) or the bloodthirsty savage. We must acknowledge that we begin our inquiry into Native history, not from some neutral point, but many steps back, and we bring to our inquiry a whole host of stereotypes, biases, and prejudices.

Given the foregoing, and since I am teaching and writing from an outsider's perspective, I cannot accurately represent Indian "desires and interests," I make no pretense to do so, and I have no desire to do so. Also, it is important for you to remember that anthropologists (and that is what I am) are all-too-human and our interests and scholarship are intricately connected with our biases and prejudices. I freely admit that I am not objective and I do not present "facts," rather I offer information about the Native Americans of California according to my interpretation of the facts, interpretations which reflect my biases and prejudices. However, I try to present information that I believe to be both accurate and non-exploitative. If you find materials associated with this web site which you believe to be inaccurate, or offensive to or exploitative of California's First Peoples, please e-mail me at Also, all of the opinions expressed by me (either in class or on the web pages I have created to accompany my California Indian class lectures) are mine and not those of my employers, Cabrillo and Hartnell Colleges.

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Course Objectives

By the end of the class, you should be able to provide an integrated overview of the Native Peoples of California. At a minimum you should be able to:

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Required Texts

All required texts, except for the Class Reader, may be purchased at the College's Bookstore. The Class Reader will be available for purchase at the second class meeting. If there are circumstances which prevent your buying any of the texts, please contact me no later than the end of the second week of school.

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Evaluation of Student Competency

As an instructor, I need some way to assess the knowledge you have gained from this course as well as assign you a semester grade. There are three options students may choose for evaluation/grading purposes.

Option 1
Take the midterm and final exams, plus attend the field trip and miss no more than one Wednesday class. You will be evaluated/graded based upon

Please note: One week prior to each exam an exam study guide will be distributed. Each exam will be based upon the study guide. The midterm exam is scheduled for 29 September; the final for 27 October. In general, I do not allow make up exams. However, there are exceptions. If any of the scheduled exams conflict with the observation of religious holidays, alternative dates for makeup exams may be arranged. Or, IF you are desperately ill or have a real emergency and will miss an exam or fieldtrip, it is imperative that you contact me as soon as possible. So call me (831 477-5201 ext 1608) or email me [].

Option 2
Similar to Option 1, except that you may chose to substitute a Portfolio for either or both exams (you must also attend the fieldtrips). Each Portfolio must demonstrate the work you have done and the knowledge gained. Persons who choose this option will submit a separate portfolio for each section of the course on the day of the exam for that part. A portfolio will typically consist of

Each student's portfolio will be evaluated on the basis of critical thinking skills displayed as well as overall visual presentation. Each portfolio will be graded on a numerical scale of100 points. The student's final grade will be based on their total score, just like Option 1.

If you contemplate preparing a portfolio I urge you to see me for suggested readings as well as reading the Resources section of the class eb page. Students may do portfolios for the first part, or the second part, or both parts of the class. Anyone who creates a portfolio is exempt from the exam for that part of the course. NOTE: The portfolio does not replace the mandatory field trip, but I would expect that a portfolio would contain information related to the fieldtrip taken during the period covered by the portfolio.

Option 3
A student may choose to take either the midterm or the final AND prepare a Web Page on a Native California nation, or on a topic dealing with some aspect of Native California culture (past or present or both), as well as participate in the fieldtrips. If a student chooses to prepare a Web page on some aspect of current culture and/or affairs, it is mandatory that the student establish lines of communication (telephone calls, mail, e-mail) with those Native Californians who might be impacted by the page. The web page must be of substantial length and contain text, graphics (at least two), and links to other relevant web sites.

Making a Web page is NOT difficult, dispite what you might hear. For those who have Netscape 4 installed on their computer (it can be dowloaded for free from Netscape's homepage), preparing a web page is as easy as typing a paper as Netscape now has an HTML editor as part of their browser program. You just type the information and the editor does all the HTML formatting. It couldn't be any easier.

The Web page will be reviewed and critiqued by the instructor and the class, and where necessary, by the appropriate Native California people. If the Web page is deemed suitable for posting, it will be uploaded to the permanent Native Peoples of California page (with appropriate citations as to authorship) of the Cabrillo Anthropology Department.

A student contemplating this option MUST SEE ME BEFORE BEGINNING any work on the page as well as reviewing the Resources section of the class web pages. The final grade will be based on the total score, just like Option 1.

Please note: simply coming to class and/or going on the field trip does not automatically give you points. It's active participation that garners points. The grading scale is as follows:

NOTE: You may raise questions with me about the grades on your exams. In order to raise a question, you must write out what your concerns are and give this to me (e.g., "I think you added the points up incorrectly," or, "On question #5, I am sure that the Pomo participated in the Kuksu religion."). NO semester grade changes can be made, or even considered, after the first month of the semester following the one in which you received the grade.

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I have scheduled two MANDATORY group fieldtrips: one for 15 and 16 October; a second one for 17 October. The 15 - 16 October field trip is to Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo where we will participate in the annual California Indian Conference. You will have a chance to listen to, and interact with, both Indian and non-Indian scholars. We will be leaving at 6 a.m. on the 15th and returning by 9 p.m. on the 16th. Hopefully, Cabrillo College will provide vans for our transportation; if not, we will need to make arrangements to carpool. On the second night of class (8 September) we will discuss specific sleeping and eating accommodations for this fieldtrip. In the past, students have opted for staying in a cheap motel and sleeping four to a room (it cuts costs dramatically), packing lunches for both Friday and Saturday, and finding a relatively inexpensive dinning experience for Friday and Saturday nights. The California Indian Conference fieldtrip is worth 75 points toward your final grade. However, mere attendance is not sufficient to acquire points. You will be required to submit a brief (4-6 typewritten pages) paper outlining what the trip was about, what you learned (if anything), and why the field trip was important. You will also be expected to PARTICIPATE in one of several round-table discussions.

On 17 October, we will visit several pre-European Indian sites in the Santa Cruz/Monterey region. We will leave Cabrillo College at 10 a.m. and return by 6 p.m. You will need to bring a lunch, something to drink, and dress in layers. This fieldtrip is worth 25 points toward your final grade. As with the California Indian Conference fieldtrip, mere attendance is not sufficient to acquire points. You will be required to submit a brief (1-2 typewritten pages) paper outlining what the trip was about, what you learned (if anything), and why the field trip was important.

If you have a health and/or physical condition which precludes participation in these fieldtrips it MAY be possible to arrange an alternative activity. Please contact me before the Fall semester begins or speak with me on the first evening of class (Wednesday - 1 September 1999).

In addition to attending the fieldtrip to the California Indian Conference, all students must visit the Ohlone Room at the Santa Cruz City Natural History Museum (the museum with the whale sculpture out front) and submit a short typewritten, double-spaced paper concerning what was seen, and what can be inferred about Ohlone life, times, and environment from the display. Please do NOT use information contained in any written documents (such as M. Margolin's The Ohlone Way) -- I want your impressions based upon a museum display. This paper must be turned in no later than the fifth class meeting. While no points are acquired by submitting this paper, 10 points will be deducted if the paper is not submitted.

If unforseen circumstances require cancelling the fieldtrip to the California Indian Conference, other fieldtrips will be scheduled. Some possibilities are:

The possibility exists for a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore, if there is sufficient class interest. If so, we will leave on a FRIDAY morning and camp at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. On Saturday we will visit the reconstructed Coast Miwok village of Kule Loklo as well as take some hikes, getting to know the flora and fauna used by the Coast Miwok.

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Requests for an INCOMPLETE in the course will only be considered (but not automatically granted) if the student has completed and passed 80% of the major requirements (exams, homework, etc.).

It is your responsibility to notify me in advance (either by phone, email, mail, or any other means) of any circumstances that prevent you completing the course requirements on the dates and by the deadlines given in class and listed on the class syllabus.

Students who anticipate problems with fulfilling course requirements because of the way they see, hear, read, or get around campus should advise the instructor within the first two weeks of class. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to remind me at least one week before the exams of your needs in this matter.

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Instructor Information

WWW Address:
Office: 430A
Office Hours: Wed: 5 - 5:50 p.m., Fri: 12:00 - 12:50, or by appointment
Telephone: 831 477-5201 ext. 1608 (messages only)
Mailbox: Social Sciences Division Office, Room 400
Email: [or]

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Last Updated: 18 August 1999