Save Mount Diablo

Save Mount Diablo and the China Wall

For 50 years the Save Mount Diablo group had been doing an outstanding job helping to preserve, protect, and restore the wild lands around the sacred mountain of the Volvon people.

They have recently expanded their focus to include the 200 mile long Diablo Range.

We believe there are significant undiscovered and undocumented pre-historic Native sites everywhere there is fresh water through this entire range.

Save Mount Diablo holds their annual “Moonlight on the Mountain” fundraiser at the China Wall Bedrock Mortar Site but probably does not draw their participant’s attention to it. They should.

This fantastic 4 mortar rock features some of the deepest we have ever found.

The China Wall celebration site

Bob approaches the ancient food processing boulder.

Sitting on the boulder imagining the Gala 50 Year Celebration.

Sitting on the boulder looking across to Castle Rock.

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Save Mount Diablo’s annual

Moonlight on the Mountain Gala

is back in-person and better than ever!

Join us for our 50th Anniversary

celebration at Mount Diablo’s China Wall

for a memorable evening complete with elegant

three-course dinner, live and silent auctions,

live music, and dancing beneath the stars.

Flower Power dress optional.

Although we can’t quite afford to attend this gala event, we do support them with small annual donations. A worthwhile cause!

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The Lost City in the East Bay Hills

Bob Bardell published this article 15 years ago and it is now more relevant than ever.

We are convinced the history and importance of the Volvon Tribe will lead to a deeper understanding of pre-historic and post-historic California life-ways. This 2022 version features some minor corrections and Bob’s Afterword. (Attached)

It starts:

If you want to see the remains of a vanished Indian civilization, you don’t have to travel to Four Corners or the Yucatan. You can visit Volvon—the lost city in the Bay Area’s own backyard. Volvon contains the largest collection of bedrock mortars in the Bay Area and one of the largest in California. Its many house pits bespeak a once size-able population. Although these bedrock mortars and house pits may lack the grandeur of the ruins of Mesa Verde or Palenque, their antiquity is beyond question, and people lived in Volvon, more or less continuously, for thousands of years, until the Spanish missionized them at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Lost City is the centerpiece of Volvon Territory.

We have identified over 80 unique village and camp sites in Volvon featuring over 2000 bedrock mortars. And there is more still undiscovered.

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Lands End- Follow Up

Our intrepid explorers continue to expand our awareness of our shared environment.

Their recent report follows:

“Peter and I enjoy finding various lithic sources and recently we ventured to Bakers Beach and Marshall Beach not far from Lands End. Marshall Beach has its own wildlife (clothing optional – gay). But because the whole thing is Franciscan formation with crumbling cliffs, there is, from left to right:

Magnesite (MgCO3) – aka Pomo gold – can make beads
Soapstone – about the same low hardness – make beads, pipes, ear flares both can be “fired” to increase hardness and change color

The chert – First you have to find a chunk glassy enough, then within that get some flakes out of it. Obsidian is much easier to work.
But the chert points are found as artifacts and are much more durable.

None of these are ancient artifacts, I made em”

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The rocks are of the “Franciscan assemblage” of old sea floor brought to the surface when California still had a converging plate margin. Polished from wave action.

Lands End

Lands End – San Francisco

2 ancient Shellmounds if you know where to look.

We think the village could have been in the Sutro’s Gardens area.

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These stacked sticks represent an allusion to remaining Native Californians.

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Looking from one shellmound across to the Cliff House site.

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Bob points to the sandy slope just below the road above the Cliff House.

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Yes. They were here for thousands of years too!

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Lands End

Europeans had different ideas for the site back in the 1800’s.

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The Birthing Rock

We don’t disclose the location of this absolutely magical site that we stumbled upon one day while searching for bedrock mortars.

To our knowledge no Native American, Archaeologist, or Park and Water District employee was ever aware of it.

We believe “The Pouch” was carefully carved out to hold a woman’s body while giving birth

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The view while lying in “The Pouch”

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Many cupules, often associated with fertility rites, cover the side of the boulder.

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Heather sits atop the rock by the carved out bowl we think could have held burning sage and herbs to facilitate the birthing process.

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Heather relaxes in the pouch.

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This rock sits directly in front of the pouch, also covered with cupules.

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After a little daylighting two Olla type bowls are uncovered, presumably used to heat water during the birthing.

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A Doula tests another approach.

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This phenomenal site should be recognized and protected. Who knows how many Volvon births may have occurred here? Its location suggests midwives living on site and guardians offering protection from wild animals.

Enjoy our 4 minute slideshow “Heather at the Birthing Site” https://eastbayhillpeople.com/resources/heather-at-the-birthing-site/

Volvon Territory
We believe many hundreds of people lived here for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans, 250 short years ago.

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Cloverdale Petroglyph Boulder

Friends,

We don’t provide precise directions to this fabulous example of Native American rock art but it’s right on the Russian River.

These signs and cupules had (have) meanings and value.

We just don’t know what.

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Note the Continental Shelf extending out into the ocean.

We believe it could have been inhabited long before current estimates of early human habitation.

You can see the outflow of the Great Sacramento River before there was a San Francisco Bay, remembered today in oral histories.

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Hawley Lake Petroglyph Rock – Johnsville

Up in the high mountains above Truckee, this phenominal site features ancient petroglyphs on top of even more ancient petroglyphs.

Thousands of them.

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The Rock

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The Lake

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The Scientists

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The following series blew everyone’s minds.

The compass would change to a different direction at every point.

How did they know about the magnetic anomalies in this rock?

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Our Explorers Preview

This report from one of our contributors (who wishes to remain anonymous because this site is off the official trail) really expands our awareness of this particular location as we continue to wonder…

How many Volvon were here?

The Canyon Milling station sits above Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

Now adding 12 bedrock mortars to our original count of 30. Essentially, probably another permanent village site.

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A flint knapping expert and I took a lower route on the way into the Canyon Milling station because we missed the upper road. It worked great, at first, then dense brush and we had to regain altitude that we would ultimately descend through again.

Its only in this Google Earth view that I realize these sites over the Canyon Milling station weren’t found before because they are above the main road in, which is faintly visible in the background.

This day involved bewilderment, being semi-lost, redemption, exhaustion, and I hope I have many more days like it.

We stumbled onto 8 brms at the uppermost site. Seven on two adjacent rocks and one shallow nearby. Many burnt dead trees down, so possibly more hidden brms. Difficult to photograph these mortars in the shade.

Upon realizing the Canyon site was further down, we encountered 4 more brims and some cupules on a bedrock ridge with great views. Although difficult to see, one shallow mortar had an array of cupules around it.

I recall there is a diamond like configuration of cupules down near Los Vaqueros reservoir on the way in.

The Canyon Milling site is still fairly open, the poison oak is starting back low.

Bob, lemme know when you wanna visit, I feel drawn to further exploration of this area.

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Go to www.eastbayhillpeople.com/map and click on any fire for more photos and info.

Please note the incredible array of Volvon sites in the Black Hills.

Windy Point – Danville

9 bedrock mortars with spectacular views in every direction.

This great hike starts right here on Mount Diablo.
The hill top in the distance is Windy Point.

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Bob enters the camp site.

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A nice selection of bedrock mortars.

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Heather holds a possible broken metate.

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The sacred mountain is right there.

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Go to www.eastbayhillpeople.com/maps and download our GoogleEarth map.
Click on the individual fires for photos and text.
 

Chitactac – Gilroy

75 Bedrock Mortars

 

Chitactac

Chitactac-Adams Heritage County Park.

This beautiful and culturally significant 4.5 acre park site is located just minutes from the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

The park features the beautiful Uvas Creek and a wealth of cultural artifacts including bedrock mortars and petroglyphs left by the native people who occupied the area for thousands of years.

The park includes a self-guided interpretive walk and an interpretive shelter focusing on tribal culture which was located on this property for who knows how long.

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Two distinct bedrock mortars in a hand crafted basin

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Interpretive signage

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Ohlone Life at Chitactac A six minute video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uvXgCNQxUY

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www.eastbayhillpeople.com/map

 

Click on the fires for more info and photos

Long Canyon and Marsh Creek Brentwood

53 bedrock mortars, 29 on one rock.

The location of this site near the mouth of Hog Canyon meant that this was a “gatehouse” settlement guarding one of the principal routes into the Volvon heartland. This was one of the very few bedrock mortar sites known to early 20th century Contra Costa County historians.

This site is just off Marsh Creek Road on private property. Be respectful.

Yes. It’s right there.

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We think a nice little village was located in the meadow right below.

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How old is this ancient site?

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A handsome mortar plug, peeled back.

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Another bunch of mortars down in Marsh Creek.

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The Volvon Tribe ruled this area for 10’s of centuries.

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For more information and directions to our GoogleEarth kmz map

with photos and descriptions of every site www.eastbayhillpeople.com/map

Chinese Tree of Heaven – Hayward

18 bedrock mortars (including 5 bowl mortars), 3 metates, 2 cupules, incised rocks, rock rectangles, rock walls, and rock-lined pathways. Part of the unbelievable complex of sites on Walpert Ridge.

The Chinese Tree of Heaven tree (Ailanthus altissima) was introduced to California by the Chinese during the Gold Rush. The presence of this tree along with the dry-laid masonry skill apparent in a few of the rock enclosures near the power tower points to a Chinese presence here in the relatively recent past.

We believe the Yrgin or other Ohlones constructed most of the rock walls and enclosures found here. We believe these walls and enclosures had ceremonial functions.

This site lies right beneath the power pole.

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A fantastic bowl mortar

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This is a rock lined path to a prayer circle

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This partially ruined stacked rock rectangle stands near the headwaters of a tributary of Dry Creek

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The view across the South Bay

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The Walpert complex is mostly land banked by the East Bay Regional Park District, scheduled to be opened to the public sometime in the hopefully immediate future.

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11 Bedrock Mortars off Fairview Avenue in Hayward

part of the Five Canyons neighborhood.

A new Site for us thanks to an Intrepid Explorer.

Read “Our Perspective” on private property at the bottom.

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Start here

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No “Keep Out” signs. You just have to know where to go, down the canyon

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We couldn’t find the 20 mortar boulder we were told was there. Next Time!

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A beautiful setting in a gorgeous canyon.

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Our Perspective

Perspective on Ancient Native American Sites on Public and Private Property

Because there are so few remaining sites, they all are special and important.

The powers that be want the general public to not feel any connection to or show any interest in them
since that will just interfere with the plans of private property owners, developers, and managers of public agencies.

To that end there has been a coordinated, calculated, clandestine arrangement to downplay and obscure
public interest and involvement in the California Native American story.

It has worked! The vast majority of the population couldn’t care less about a few bedrock mortars scattered around
here and there, and knows little of the 10,000 year old civilization that preceded our conquest a mere 250 years ago.

This lack of interest is an impediment to our contemporary societal growth and understanding of history and our place in it.

When you sit on a mortar rock and look around, you can begin to understand and connect.

Our recent discovery of this 30 mortar Jalquin Ohlone Indian site in the Hayward hills is a fine example.
Tucked into a little canyon, surrounded by private property, it is an ideal location for recognition as an important remnant village.

This place is not like the “ghost towns” of the wild west that might be 150 years old.
It could be thousands of years old, continuously occupied.
Virtually no one knows it is even there.

Martin House – Suisun City

92 bedrock mortars

AKA Stonedene National Register #77000349

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Samuel Martin constructed this house in 1861 on the site of a Suisun Patwin village.

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Martin met an aging Sem Yeto, the American Indian also called Chief Solano, who at the time lived in Suisun Valley after being forced off his traditional village.

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Martin’s obituary described Martin and Chief Solano as being “on the best of terms” and added that Solano’s grave is across the road from Stonedene.

Martin is said to have helped bury Solano under a tree in 1850.

Chief Solano is the county’s namesake.

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“It’s rare that you find land that so eloquently speaks to almost every significant period of time for our state,” says Solano Historical Society President Elissa DeCaro. “I love Stonedene,” DeCaro said. “It’s such a special place.”

DeCaro talks enthusiastically not only about the house, but the grounds that were the site of a major Patwin village.

DeCaro and others would like to see the house and its grounds purchased for public use.

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The Martin House has recently been the stuff of controversies, with people clashing over what are necessary updates to the property and what damages its historical integrity.

Due to pending litigation, it may be fenced off.

Ryan’s Hideaway – Hayward

24 bedrock mortars.

Part of the fantastic array of sites on Walpert Ridge.

This site is named in honor of Ryan the Cowboy, who has kicked us off the ridge several times when we accidentally strayed onto private property. He pointed this location out to us one day when we were heading for the Chinese Tree of Heaven site.

Being tucked away in a little hollow amid sheltering trees gives this site a “hideaway” feel. Look for more mortars on and around the little hill that rises on the righthand side of the creek bed.

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Bob holds a massive pestle just laying on the ground there.

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Junior admires the rim, depth, and machined interior of this beauty.

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Bob refers to this type as a “high low”.

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Download our Google Earth kmz map to get more concise directions. https://eastbayhillpeople.com/map/

Although we never have, we recommend getting permission to visit this site.

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Linda Yamane

Friends,

Linda Yamane is a major league artist, basket weaver, and California Indian spokesperson/leader.

Google Linda Yamane Paintings to view some of her art.

Her text below probably also reflects the life of the Volvon Tribe for many thousands of years and whose tribal territory around Mount Diablo is still more or less intact.

The Association of Ramaytush Ohlone recently began re-enlivening a piece of land in San Gregorio on the Peninsula in collaboration with the Peninsula Open Space Trust.

https://openspacetrust.org/post-news/aro-farming-collaboration/

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Written by Lindas Yamane, April 2019

Like their other Ohlone counterparts, the Ramaytush speaking people of the San Francisco Peninsula lived comfortably on the land in a network of small villages.

Though speaking a common language, they were organized into several tribal units, each under the leadership of its own captain and living within its own territorial boundaries. These groups typically varied in size from fifty to five hundred people, living among three to five permanent villages and several seasonal camps. The local Aramai people of nearby Pruristac and Timigtac villages numbered as few as fifty or sixty people, and seem to have been organized into two smaller independent bands, rather than the typical multi-village tribe.

Ohlone life was centered on the natural world, family, and community. From childhood they began learning the skills they would use throughout life. Everyone had an array of abilities, but some were recognized for their special talents. One might be an exceptional hunter or fisherman, respected for keeping the village well supplied. Another might make the best bows, arrows, fish spears, rabbit nets, or shell beads. Perhaps they were an exceptional singer or regalia maker. Some women were renowned basket makers, sought after for elaborate ceremonial baskets, or baby cradles. Another could be famous for her beautiful feathered belts or ear ornaments.

From land and sea, stream and sky, the Ramaytush enjoyed a vast variety of nutritious foods. While the men hunted and fished, women focused on gathering plants used for food, medicines, and basketry. Menus included fish, seaweeds, marine mammals, waterfowl and other birds, as well as land mammals both large and small. Deer, elk, salmon and rabbits were among their favorites. Abalone, mussels, clams, and other shellfish were gathered from the seashore, while meadows and woodlands supplied fresh greens, wild blackberries and strawberries, nutritious bulbs and tubers, and a variety of protein-rich nuts and seeds.

Food was plentiful and the people were competent, but an experienced and respected leader was important for the organization, safety and well being of the group. The headman advised on the proper times to gather and store important plant foods or relocate to seasonal gathering sites. He also had the authority to resolve conflicts, whether within the tribe itself or with neighboring groups. He alone might have more than one wife, due to the heavy responsibility of providing foods, regalia, gifts, payments and other necessities at ceremonial events and inter-tribal gatherings. He and his family had special social status, but that status came with great responsibility and a serious commitment of service to their community.

The Ohlone world of the past was also rich in supernatural meaning and ritual, with shamans and healers, shape shifters, and others who specialized in the mystical matters of their everyday world.

Our favorite Gregg Castro quote from News from Native California

“The people came into the world, and they have been an integral part of it since the dawn of time. _
Though much has been lost in the last two-and-a-half centuries, the knowledge lies deep within each of us. _
Like a mountain stream, it eventually works its way back to the surface. Knowledge, wisdom, courage, truth, love, strength, respect, forgiveness, integrity, patience, humility, – they all are bubbling out to quench our thirst,”

Desecration Row

Volvon Village August 2021

We don’t believe this village site is getting the respect that it deserves. It may be the most important remaining intact example of the living situation for the premier Volvon tribe that controlled access to the sacred mountain (Diablo).

50-60 cattle apparently herded to this location does not seem to jibe with Contra Costa Water District stated policies.

“CCWD asks for your cooperation in staying away from these areas and keeping the locations of identified cultural resource sites on the Watershed confidential to prevent disturbance, looting, damage, and other unauthorized uses that compromise their cultural and scientific values.”

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“It is important that these sites and artifacts be understood, respected and protected.”

Cultural Resources Assessment of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California

The Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) was contacted by letter on July 10, 2008, requesting information on sacred lands and a contact list of local tribal representatives.

A response was received from the NAHC on August 1, 2008, noting, “A record search of the sacred land file has failed to indicate the presence of Native American 
cultural resources in the immediate project area.”

This is what we are up against folks.

700 plus bedrock mortars disappearing beneath the manure and duff

We daylight so that people can appreciate what was going on here for probably thousands of years.

It’s hard to keep up with this level of degradation.

Fortunately, we have mapped and recorded every aboveground bedrock mortar at the site in the interests of future scientists and native Americans who will eventually wake up to the potential here. For instance, “How old is this site?”

Heather at the Birthing Site

https://eastbayhillpeople.com/eastbayhillpeople/resources/heather-at-the-birthing-site/

Enjoy the 4 minute slideshow.

We do not disclose the location of this unbelievable find.

We stumbled upon it one day while wandering.

A few things to notice include:

-the cupules on the side near the pouch and on the rocks in front. We knew that cupules have often been associated with fertility rites

-the two Olla Bowls in front of the pouch would have heated water

-the bowl on top of the rock could have been burning sage and other herbs

-there are not the usual bedrock mortars at the site

-the site is isolated and protected

We think many Volvon births occurred here over the centuries.

https://eastbayhillpeople.com/eastbayhillpeople/resources/heather-at-the-birthing-site/

Canyon Trail Park – El Cerrito

Canyon Trail Park Petroglyph Boulder El Cerrito

20+ bedrock mortars and 175+ cupules on one chlorite blueschist boulder. This rock in Canyon Trail Park is on a branch of Baxter Creek. Baxter Creek flows into the Bay near Stege, a long-vanished neighborhood on the old shoreline of San Francisco Bay, northwest of Albany hill. Some of the Bay Area’s largest shellmounds once stood in Stege.

Rock art specialists believe the first cupules pecked into this rock date back thousands of years. The rock probably had a ritual or ceremonial use. See Canyon Trail excavation for a discussion of the excavation of this site. Drawings of the above and below ground cupule arrays are very interesting.

These cupules had important meaning to the people who made them. They have been associated with fertility rites and astronomical observations.

Check out our 5 Site Huichin Tour
https://eastbayhillpeople.com/eastbayhillpeople/east-bay-huichin-tour/

Several years ago BARARA (Bay Area Rock Art Research Association) started a campaign to recognize, respect, and protect this rock. The attention drew taggers to the site and they modified their efforts.

We believe it is important for people to visit these sites, and contemplate the past, the present, and the future. Go back 7 generations in your mind, and then forward.

Canyon Middle School – Castro Valley

8 bedrock mortars on two rocks right below the parking lot.
Go on the weekends.

We’ve had some interaction with area residents who thought the site could enhance the school’s curriculum. “Last year we had a representative from the local Ohlone triblet visit, and our district decided to keep the site quiet and hopefully recreate the largest mortar to place in our campus with an informational sign at some point in the future.

We are technically not supposed to take students or others to visit, but I honestly cannot help going myself to daylight the mortars and absorb the vibes, so to speak.”

Another resident:
“Canyon Middle School. I checked the property map and they have ownership of the mortars —but the school district doesn’t know what to do about them. So they are ignoring them (for now). And they want no help.”

Does anyone have any idea how old this site is?

Broken mortars are an indicator of a long history.

Fig Pig Gulch – Livermore

19 bedrock mortars in a charming setting that can help you appreciate how nice living in California has been for a long time.

We encourage people to get out and hike around.

Good for the mind and the body. All of the sites in our Travelogues are worthy of a look/see.

Just head out the Volvon Trail.

Get on the Whipsnake Trail and hike out to Mallory Ridge.

Find the second drainage to the north, and find your way down
to the 1200 foot elevation above the Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

You’re there!

All of a sudden, a real nice shelf.

Bedrock mortars scattered all around. There are more long buried in the area.

Rock alignments indicate frequent occupation.

Worth a visit for the intrepid adventurer. It’s crazy to think about what was going on here for thousands of years.

Volvon Village KEEP OUT

Dear Friends,

For the first time in 15 years we are getting some recognition that the main Volvon Village might be a valuable resource.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to stroll through there has been stunned by the seminal visceral experience of realizing the substantive historic importance of this place. We will continue to advocate for opening it up as per our 100 Year Plan as described in this document submitted in 2011.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IEDzWJMKXypsQqE6nPlFbsLSXDgp3zat32YeBVZ3a7Q/edit?usp=sharing

The Contra Costa Water District and East Bay Parks do not want to deal with the growing awareness of the 10,000 year history of Native America right beneath their feet. Too hard to manage!

Over 700 bedrock mortars with cattle grazing right on top of them.

This plateau offers an unbelievable experience. Tear down the fences!

Respect and Protect the limited remaining evidence of this culture and civilization.

Volvon Village- Artist John Finger
Kaaknu the Volvon – Artist John Finger

SW Windy Point – Danville

11 bedrock mortars up a secluded canyon.

Start here at Curry Point on Mount Diablo. 5-6 mile round trip. 600-700 foot elevation climb.

Go down Curry Canyon Road. Don’t miss the Curry Creek Milling Station about a mile down up a little drainage on your right. 18 very unusual mortars.

Go up the hill on Curry Cave Road.

Continue up Curry Cave Road to the park boundary.

Save Mount Diablo has bought this property and at the moment is striving to keep people off of it.

We are monitoring archaeological sites to be sure there is no damage or looting.

The boys examine bedrock mortars in this grand outcrop.

Great hiking and exploring throughout this area. You could spend a whole day poking around.

Sogorea Te – Vallejo

Glen Cove Park, aka Sogorea Te
A 3,500 year old village site, shell midden, and burial ground. 29 bedrock mortars visible at low tide on wave-cut beaches.

That’s Crockett across the water from Glen Cove (Sogorea Te).
The Fages expedition in 1772 met and feasted with 400 natives at that major league site, now remembered with a plaque at the library.

This is Glen Cove in 2010

This building has been removed.

In 2011 Corinna Gould and a hundred others occupied this site for several months.

At first they didn’t know about the 29 bedrock mortars on the shore, visible only at low tide.

Walpert Ridge – Hayward

It is said the mountaintops and high ridge lines are conducive to spiritual awareness and activity. Walpert Ridge radiates this kind of energy.
16 unique sites and 182 bedrock mortars that we know of Rock alignments and prayer circles all over the place.

Possible RoundHouse setting.

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The rock alignment in front borders an ancient footpath leading to another prayer circle.

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Large unique bowls at the Chinese Tree of Heaven. So named because early Chinese settlers/laborers occupied this site for a time in the 1800s.

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Rock alignment near the high point of the ridge. The barbed wire fence came later.

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The view south on the ridge. Lots more going on in those trees than you might imagine.

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Prayer circle mid ridge.

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Heading into Ryan’s Hideaway gully. We were getting kicked off the ridge by Ryan the Cowboy,told him what we were up to and he pointed down the hill and said “Oh yeah, there’s a bunch of mortar holes down there”.  it turned out to be a real nice spot.

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Pestle at Ryan’s Hideaway.

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We call this the Ceremonial Site on the south ridge. Looking towards Santa Cruz mountains.

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Mortar pair at the Ceremonial Site.

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Rock alignment leading to a camp at a spring source.

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Mortar and Pestle at spring source.

Most of Walpert Ridge (but not all) is land banked, presumably to be opened soon to the public,whose taxpayer dollars paid for it. Pre contact it was Jalquin Territory, and had been for probably thousands of years.