Volvon Mystery – Livermore

We have always found interesting the lack of knowledge and information about the Volvon tribe, possibly the most important pre-historic group in native California.

Here is the prominently displayed map of native populations at the Sacramento Indian Museum. Note the big black space around Mount Diablo and the dearth of settlements around San Francisco Bay.

Here is Sherburne Cook’s famous map, with nothing showing around Mount Diablo and Marsh Creek.

When the first Spanish and Missionary expeditions entered this region the Indian scouts refused to lead the soldiers onto Mount Diablo due to the powerful spirits that resided there.

Here is our GoogleEarth map of Volvon Territory.

If you download our map this is the text Bob prepared regarding the Volvon tribe.


The Volvon were one of the Bay Miwok tribelets living in Contra Costa County at the time of European contact. They were a hill people based in the rugged Black Hills southeast of Mt. Diablo. The mountain itself was in Volvon hands. It had been the home of the supernatural First People, who created Indians and their world, and was a spiritual focus for nearly every tribe that could see it. Shamen and religious leaders went to the mountain to pray. Everyday people would visit its slopes for intertribal festivals. This meant the Volvon must have been a prosperous people. One did not just sashay into Volvon territory without bearing tribute for the privilege. Imagine the trade goods the Volvons acquired this way. They were regular participants in regional trade festivals hosted by their Ohlone neighbors, the Ssaoams, at the Brushy Peak trading grounds not far from the Altamont Pass. The Volvons’ preeminent position at the crossroads of Central California no doubt made them a sophisticated and cosmopolitan people. 

That Volvons were active traders does not mean their territory was short on natural resources. The name ‘Volvon’ itself roughly translates as “natural springs,” which befits a triblet based in the Black Hills where the headwaters of a number of perennial creeks rise. The highland heart of Volvon territory today is rich in oak, pine, and manzanita. Mount Diablo is home to a number of endemic plant species–rare resources controlled by Volvons. Open rangelands, now mostly overrun with nonnative grasses, must once have been covered with food-bearing plants. Deer, elk, and antelope were no doubt abundant in the lighly settled ridges and valleys on the eastern side of the territory. 

Volvon territory gives every appearance of once having supported a substantial population. We have discovered 81 bedrock mortar sites, and over 2,100 bedrock mortars. Each site carries its own sense of place and is an individual window into the past. As you walk the paths that connect these sites and build up a richer mental map and sense of the landscape, you may acquire a feeling for the possibilities of life in Volvon territory in the not so distant past. 

There are magical and metaphysical powers associated with Mt. Diablo and the Black Hills. Go there now and experience its effect on your perspective. Steep yourself in prehistory. The Spanish extirpated the Volvons from their homeland 200 years ago, but physically, their territory remains virtually intact today. The land still has a life of its own.

for more info:

Other Bay Area tribal descriptions can be found on the sidebar.

Here is our thinking regarding the potential Volvon National Park.

and Tom Stienstra’s article in The Chronicle on the subject


When you come across a pestle in or around a bedrock mortar, you come face to face with the fact of abrupt cultural displacement.

We leave these pestles near where we find them, hoping others will have the same seminal experience we have.

The two pictures at the end are in museums. The rest are right where they were left when the soldiers and padres took over. Indigenous lives matter too

Joel’s Pestle, Volvon Village
Ryan’s Hidaway, Walpert Ridge
Jeff’s Lookout, Sunol
Molluck Trail, Morgan Territory
Vargas Plateau, Fremont
Jeff’s Pestles, Mission Peak
Rocky Ridge, San Ramon
Round Valley, Brentwood
Minnis Ranch, Ed Levin Park
Walpert Ridge, Hayward
Rockwall to Campsite, Walpert Ridge
Above Mission Peak Meadow, Hayward
Mallory Gorge, Los Vaqueros
Mission San Jose, Fremont
Alviso Adobe, San Ramon

Petlenuc Ohlone Village – San Francisco

The Yelamu were the tribal group living for thousands of years in what is now San Francisco.

Recently, while digging the foundation for the SalesForce tower, a 7500 year old body in full ceremonial regalia was uncovered.

Following the arrival of the Anza/Font expedition in the 1770s, their useful village and camp sites were virtually erased.

There are several known village sites including the one on El Pollin Spring in the Presidio. Water flows from this spring today into Petlenuc Creek. The Presidio Trust is now daylighting and restoring this creek.

Recent archaeological excavations at a site near the Crissy Field Lagoon revealed 84 animal species including shellfish, surfperch, sea otters, Tule Elk, and Grizzly Bears.

A delightful walk on the Tennessee Hollow Trail in the Presidio brings you right to the spring’s source.

Try to imagine Native life before there was a San Francisco Bay
when the Farrallons were not islands but hills. The Continental Shelf was inhabited by their ancestors.

It is rumored that 5000 plus Natives are buried under the road in front of Mission Dolores, likely another major Yelamu Village prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

Randall Milliken’s study, “A Time of Little Choice”: estimates that 160 to 300 Yelamu were living in San Francisco when the Spanish opened Mission San Francisco de Asís on June 30, 1776.

We think that is a gross under-estimation.

Artifacts have been found across San Francisco from at least 50 different locations.

The Ramaytush (pronounced rah-my-toosh) are the original peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the Ramaytush Ohlone numbered approximately 1500 persons, but by the end the Mission Period only a few families had survived. Today, only one lineage is known to have produced living descendants in the present. for more info.

For every 100 Natives incorporated into the California missions, over 75 died a premature death. Average life expectancy after baptism was only nine years, and at Mission Dolores in San Francisco it was only 4.5 years

Under threat of punishment Native peoples at the Missions were forced to attend religious services and to labor without compensation. They were not allowed to leave the Mission grounds without permission, and then, for only two weeks a year at most. Anyone who failed to return or who otherwise escaped was hunted down by the military. Some were killed in the process.

Native peoples did not need to be saved from their so-called pagan and savage ways of life. They did not need a European education; they did not need European health care; they did not need training in the agrarian arts. Their ancestors were doing just fine on their own before the arrival of the Spanish. Don’t ask them today about the Sainthood of Junipero Serra.

They are not into it.

Redwood Fairy Rings – Canyon

This was a major Saklan Miwok Village back in the day, right at this intersection of Canyon Road and Pinehurst.

There were camps and villages all over the place. Up the road in Moraga at Indian Creek there was one. Saint Mary’s College was built on one.

Walk through this gate into another world.

You can’t keep a good kid down.

A redwood forest is a place, both ancient and timeless, with gigantic sprawling ferns, lushgreen moss, and towering trees. The forest has flourished along the North Coast for 20 million years with individual coast redwoods living up to 2000 years.

A fairy ring is a common name for a group of redwood trees growing in a circle, usually around the stump of a logged old-growth tree.

After being cut down, a new generation of trees sprout from the roots of the fallen redwood, often creating a near-perfect circle or ring. This is one of the ways redwoods regenerate, giving them the tremendous advantage of already having a full root system compared to species that reproduce through seed.

We counted 18 trees growing from this huge stump.

Because redwoods crown sprout from stumps and the roots of fallen ancestors, the age of such a forest is almost inconceivable—while a 32-foot broad, 300-foot tall tree might represent a millennium of vertical growth, the genetics and rootstock below might span many thousands, if not millions, of years.

A vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods once covered the valley that is now Canyon. But it took little more than fifteen years, from 1845 to 1860,
for crews of loggers to level the entire forest.

An ugly scene for today’s environmentalists to contemplate.

These redwoods and people built San Francisco and the East Bay.

A handheld bedrock mortar found at a Boy Scout campout at Saint Mary’s College in the fifties.

To quote Gregg Castro, Salinan Nation Tribal Chair

“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 spring, 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” Just like the mighty Redwood Sequoiadendron Giganteum

Lost Orinda Park – Orinda

Now primarily part of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area.

Bob calls this area Lost Orinda Park because of the old Orinda Park Hotel built here in 1885 (the original foundation remains just feet from the trailhead parking) and the Wagner Ranch (essentially a resort property) built in 1882.

Orinda Park was a popular destination along the old railroad line for weekend trips for those from Richmond and Berkeley seeking warmer climates.

We believe the first homes built by European settlers were right on the best locations in the area which the now forced-out Native Americans had settled long ago. This was probably one of those sites. The year around fresh water San Pablo Creek and springs don’t hurt.

An old photo of the Orinda Park Hotel.

There are lots of interesting signs and locales on this property.

Toris Jaeger has been managing this 16 acre property for 40 years and from time to time helps build Miwok style tule shelters.

“She taught us how to use plants for soap, how to identify spearmint and bay leaves and how to reuse candles by melting them down and re-forming them into new ones. She showed us the painstaking process by which Native American cultures had made acorn meal by grinding the acorns, removing the shell and leaching out poisonous toxins with boiling water. What she was really teaching us was how to respect our environment and each other.”

Inga Miller, current Orinda City Council.

Right now because of COVID 19 the gates are locked. Hopefully not for long.

This site is right upstream from all those dots on known sites at the east end of the reservoir.

Continuing upstream we know of Native American sites on the 11th hole of the Orinda Country Club and at the McDonell Nursery.

Certainly more were lost when the town of Orinda was paved over.

Wagner Ranch Nature Area is a nature preserve and historic site that offers about 1,000 Orinda schoolchildren a year a variety of hands-on experiences. The area features a meadow, forest, ponds and streams, a biodiversity garden, and is home to thousands of native plant and animal species.

Students, from third-graders through high-schoolers, learn about animal habitat, ecosystem studies, Native Americans, California history, foraging, cooking and early U.S. history, among other activities. In addition, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other community organizations have contributed special projects.

Super easy to find at the intersection of San Pablo Dam Road, Bear Creek Road, and Wildcat Canyon Road.The Hotel foundation is right in the trees in front of the trailhead parking. Un-marked.

The Wagner Ranch Nature area is below the school, down to San Pablo Creek. It’s Lost Orinda Park, for Bob.

Mary Bowerman Trail – Mount Diablo

This 3/4 mile easy walking trail circles the very top of Mount Diablo.

It really has nothing to do with Native America except for thousands of years this was considered to be sacred ground.

We know it takes an hour or more to drive to the top of the mountain but why hurry? Mary Bowerman was one of the founding members of Save Mount Diablo.

The first part of the path is paved and wheelchair accessible

The views in every direction are spectacular, to say the least.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

This rock outcrop is known as The Devil’s Elbow or Pulpit, unfortunately. The Volvon Shaman and people certainly may have called it something else.

Once you’re up here it’s real easy to get to the top, with the most wonderful and inspiring views in Central California. Controlled by the Volvon Tribe for many thousands of years.

Redwood Canyon Golf Course – Castro Valley

Formerly Willow Park Golf Course Start here and take the trail under Redwood Road

Follow this trail down into the creek

3/4 mile easy walk from the parking to this 10 mortar food processing site. Right next to the golf course.

That’s the golf course right there.

There are 8 unique specialty bedrock mortars on this rock and one nearby

So close to the golf course the occasional golf ball strays into the area.

Lots of great hikes in this area to Ramage Peak and Dinosaur Peak.

Real nice drive from Castro Valley to Moraga on Redwood Road

Important Indigenous Activists

Most of these people lack federal and state recognition but they still work overtime to sustain and improve their cultural identities.

Perhaps the Black Lives Matter movement will bring some awareness that Indigenous Lives Matter too, not just here but worldwide.

Except for Lucina Vidauri they disapprove of our activities and viewpoint.

Corinna Gould

Gregg Castro

Ann-Maria Sayers

Kanyon Sayers-Rood

Vincent Medina

Caleen Sisk

Lucina Vidauri

San Pablo Reservoir – Orinda

The boys set out to see if they could find any evidence of Site 401on the NE shore.

Site 401 at Northeast Corner, lower right

Carefully examining the shoreline

Our geologist called this “Sparse Lithic Scatter”. Monterey Chert, Basalt, Quartz and other pieces. Along with a glass marble. They all have no preferred fracture plane, they break “conchoidally” like glass.

Note the concentration of sites on San Pablo Creek, now a reservoir.

This burial from Site 407,, possibly a shaman, was interred with 
Olivella Shell Beads, inlaid Abalone Shell and Pendant, Mica Ornaments, Arrowhead Points, and More.

Mark Hylkema Presentation

Worth viewing.

All 3 episodes are excellent, but this one was the best.

It starts about 2 minutes in.

Put together by Peninsula Open Space Trust.

There were way more people here for thousands of years 
than is generally recognized and appreciated.

Kaaknu the Volvon was mentioned along with a photo of the Volvon Cave.

All remaining sites are sacred and should be approached with respect.

Curry Point Daylight – Danville

Curry Point Daylight

Curry Point on Mt Diablo is a great jumping off point for hiking in every direction. Native American villages and camps everywhere.

We believe this could be a long ago prayer seat for seekers of the sacred mountain’s mysteries. It’s right behind the big sign. You can’t miss it.

This site we call on the GoogleEarth map “Below Cave Point Road”. 21 bedrock mortars. It is actually below the Blackhawk Ridge Trail, almost down to Sycamore Creek. A very nice 1.2 mile hike from Curry Point. No mortars visible upon our arrival.

Visible now. Daylight. We want people to see them and hang out there. We did.

17 bedrock mortars on this rock. 4 more on a rock nearby.

Village and camp sites scattered all around, Spend an hour or a day.

Racism and Indigenous Californians

Read Benjamin Madley’s “An American Genocide”. Not a pretty picture. The California Indian experience 1846-1873.

Almost eradicated to extinction, but not quite.

I grew up laughingly thinking “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”. A lot of my friends descended from Southern crackers.

I’ve evolved since then.

Our present day indigenous neighbors are still pretty well marginalized and ignored.If you can, support their efforts at recognition.

For 15 years I’ve been trying to make the case:

The coordinated, calculated, clandestine policy of suppressing knowledge of Native American Indian sites is to my mind an injustice that needs to be corrected. I feel this policy significantly diminishes their importance to our current life ways.

So far I’ve achieved zero acknowledgement from the powers that be of the following simple fact:

The main Volvon Village in Morgan Territory may be the most significant Native American village site remaining in central California. It’s importance to present and future generations cannot be overstated.

It qualifies in every respect for National Historic Recognition and California Register Recognition. 

In fact, the whole complex of sites surrounding this village constitutes a unique resource that needs to be recognized, protected, preserved, and studied.

Thomas Dietrich Message

Dear Anne Kassebaum; Bob Doyle, GM, East Bay Regional Parks,

Every culture on Earth has their own Sacred Mountain. Most Sacred sites were usually adopted by the conquerors. It is unthinkable that Mt. Diablo is an orphan Sacred Mountain unclaimed by a feeling of political correctness by the State of California; and neither allowed to be claimed by Native Americans.

We can imagine your own dilemma in our legalistic and politically charged California. It is not the California that I grew up in during the 1950’s.

I have traveled to many ancient temples and sites around the world, and most of them are filled with earth and cosmic energy, astronomical alignments, healing waters, and specialty flowers, herbs, and medicines.

I would like to suggest that initially the Volvon village sites be investigated by students from Davis, Berkeley, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and other regional Universities -that some of the special phenomena described above might be found at Mt. Diablo and the Morgan Territory.

If the Volvon sites were to pass some of the criteria then the State and Regional Parks could designate it as a true Sacred Mountain -open to research and modest educational tourism which could bring in some money to have proper staff and security for these incredibly important and venerable sites. Sincerely,
Thomas Karl Dietrich

Thomas Karl Dietrich is the author of Temple of Heaven & Earth, Culture of Astronomy, Origin of Culture, and numerous articles like The Turin Rule on ancient science & astronomy on:

Kaaknu The Volvon artist: John Finger

Bob’s Mortar Daylight – Livermore

Recently Bob made the trek to the eponymous Bob’s 75 Mortar Site in Morgan Territory.

He reported that since our last daylighting mission it had all virtually disappeared beneath the duff.

He cleaned it up a little. This kitchen rock has 25 unique mortars.

We believe visitors need to see the many bedrock mortars at each site in order to appreciate the life and spirit that remains there.

This is Heather’s poem Day Light.

California Indian Pandemics

General Mariano Vallejo’s Petaluma Adobe

The first view of the great valley filled me with emotion. It was a case of love at first sight, which better acquaintance would only deepen…nowhere, was there a scene of such beauty and suggestion of everything desirable for man. ~Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo

The adobe was built by Indian labor between 1836 and 1846.

From the park’s website
· Q: Were there slaves here?
· A: NO. The definition of a slave is “property”.
The Native Americans that worked here were not considered “property.” In California Indian life of the recent past, European diseases devastated entire tribes.Because Native American populations were not previously exposed to most diseases introduced by European colonists, they had not built up individual or population immunities.

Numerous diseases were brought to the Americas, including smallpox, bubonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, malaria, measles, scarlet fever, sexually transmitted diseases, typhoid and tuberculosis.

Each of these brought destruction through sweeping epidemics, involving disability, illness, and extensive deaths.

The most destructive disease brought by Europeans was smallpox. Smallpox was lethal to many Native Americans.

During the 1770s, smallpox killed at least 30% of the West Coast Native Americans. A conservative estimate, we believe. The crowding into reservations that was a result of the widespread relocation and concentration of native groups by the expansion of European settlement also greatly influenced the susceptibility of native people to these foreign diseases.

As far as we know, no similar chart has been compiled for California Indian tribes.

There are still survivors, Native Californians, here now.

We should be grateful today that the Coronavirus is not wiping out whole towns and cities. Health is our only real wealth.

The Volvon Village 2020

Press Release Please Release Press Release

The 15 year effort by East Bay Hill People to gain recognition for the most important Native American village site in Central California has fallen on deaf ears.

Central Californian Native American tribes venerated Mount Diablo as a sacred mountain. Native people visited Mount Diablo for ceremonies, rituals, and trading for thousands of years. The Volvon tribe controlled access to the slopes and peak of Mount Diablo. Over 80 villages, camps, and food preparation sites and over 2,000 bedrock mortars of every variety remain intact throughout the 100 square mile former Volvon territory.

The main Volvon Village alone features over 700 bedrock mortars spread over a ½ mile long site. Park and Water District managers, archaeologists, and some Native Americans have pursued a coordinated, calculated, clandestine policy to conceal and protect Volvon sites from what they say is an ignorant, disrespectful public.

We believe this policy diminishes the significance of Volvon sites and leads to further suppression of knowledge of, and interest in, this long lived civilization that preceded us. It has severely limited our understanding and appreciation of California’s human history prior to European Colonization.

To sit in these camps and villages and contemplate the lives lived there can be a transformative experience.

This opportunity exists for any casual hiker and can be easily accessed through our Travelogues at or better yet via our Google Earth map at](

For more information on this subject please review:

Tom Stienstra’s 2018 column on Volvon National Park

KTVU’s 2008 story on the Volvon Village

The East Bay Express story on The Indian Hunter from 2007

and much more at:

or contact the East Bay Hill People Press Liaison Richard DeGraffenreid

The Volvon Village – artist: John Finger
Kaaknu The Volvon – artist: John Finger

Kaaknu the Volvon tribal chieftan was a real person. Recorded history shows that he attained prominent stature during his lifetime, which started in 1770 in a benign 10,000 year-old Native American cultural environment around Mount Diablo, east of the San Francisco Bay. In thirty-five short years he saw the complete dissolution of his tribe and the total loss of all of their ancestral territory to Spanish soldiers and settlers and the Jesuit Missions. He died in 1826 at Mission San Jose. Very little is known about him. Bay Area Native Americans still today refer to him as “The Captain”.

Hike Now

Yes indeed. Now is the time to get out and explore.

Native Califonians were forced out of their village and camp sites a couple of hundred years ago but their spirits remain along with ample evidence of a 10,000 year old culture and society.

Never forget their elder’s direction to look seven generations forward and seven generations back when considering important tribal decisions.

Take a look at our Travelogues to find nice hikes near you to contemplate these people’s presence in our current affairs.

Saturday we went out to what we call the Shaman’s Redoubt on Mt Diablo (formerly the GreenHill Ranch) offering spectacular views of Volvon Territory (80 camp and village sites with over 2000 bedrock mortars). An easy 45 minute walk in and out.

If you want to know why we call it the Shaman’s Redoubt drop in to our upcoming informal meet and greet to be held in Rock City on Mount Diablo, on short notice.

Forward this message to your friends who like to get outdoors.

Site Signage

Dear Friends,

My position is that every remaining visible Native American Indian site in the San Francisco Bay Area should be recognized, respected, and protected.

20 years ago there was virtually no signage to be found anywhere.

Here are examples of the progress being made. My favorite… located near the top of Mt Diablo below the so-called Devil’s Elbow, overlooking Volvon Territory.

Mysteriously it can only be found on the back of this sign

I’m not making this “Sacred Mountain” stuff up myself folks

Donner Pass – Truckee
Ring Mountain – Tiburon
Alvarado Park – Richmond
Lynch Canyon – American Canyon
Alpine Pond – Palo Alto
Hawley Lake – Jonesville
Indian Rock – Berkeley
Rush Ranch – Suisun City

Riggs Canyon Amphitheater – Danville

When you’re there look for the Foot and the Falcon in the rocks below the ridge.

WE don’t think anybody knew about this wonderful Village / Ceremonial site until we began to daylight the 112 bedrock mortars here.

Now is the time to go check it out.

From Finley Road in Danville it’s 2 miles in, a mild 400 foot elevation climb.

A fantastic stroll up Riggs Canyon. Stay on Old Finley Road until you get to this marker and pop into the Amphitheater.

The acoustics in the Amphitheater are phenomenal. Bob was at the top of the ridgeline easily conversing with me in the village far below.

Featuring a fantastic variety of bedrock mortar types

You have to park 1/2 mile from the gate on Finley Road. A nice quiet walk up the canyon.

Check out our Travelogue and go enjoy a nice hike, and a real sense of Native Californian history.

Annadel Obsidian – Santa Rosa

Annadel State Park Santa Rosa

A beautiful park with great hiking and a mind-blowing resource location for obsidian. For thousands of years, the Southern Pomo lived near what is now the park.

No permanent village sites have been found here, but these lands were important as trading grounds and as a source of obsidian, a volcanic rock that was traded with other tribes all over central California who would work it into scrapers, knives, arrow points, and spearheads.

Drive all the way in, park and get out of your car, and walk into the creek. There is obsidian everywhere.

We get excited when we find a single flake of obsidian at village sites in the East Bay hills. We have never seen a chunk like this.

According to Breck Parkman, former Senior State Archaeologist, this was a 15 acre obsidian processing site for at least 5000 years. The resident Pomo would collect baskets of starter pieces to trade all over central California with different tribes who didn’t have access to this important material.

This 2 bedrock mortar rock we found at the upper intersection of the Richardson Trail and Steves “S” Trail right by the picnic table. A wonderful 2 mile jaunt.

All natural and cultural features are protected by law and may not be disturbed nor removed.

East Bay Rock Walls

East Bay Rock Walls and Alignments

There are many crude walls throughout the hills surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area. In places, they are up to a meter high and a meter wide and are built without mortar.

The walls run in sections anywhere from a few meters to over a half mile long.

The rocks used to construct the walls are a variety of sizes. Some are basketball-sized rocks, while others are large sandstone boulders weighing a ton or more. Parts of the walls seem to be just piles of rocks, but in other places it appears the walls were carefully constructed.

The exact age of the walls is unknown, but they have an old appearance.

Many of the formations have sunk far into the earth, and are often completely overgrown with different plants.

The Stone Corral in Morgan Territory. Park Rangers and many others dismiss this as the work of some old rancher. We don’t think so. We believe this was an important Native American ceremonial site. Because of the year round spring and the multiple bedrock mortars in the immediate area, not to mention the non-western wall building construction and the proximity to the Lower Village, we’re sticking with our thesis.

No written documentation exists to identify when they were built, by whom, or why. Some people consider the Ohlone Indians to have been the builders.

As of 2016, archaeologist Jeffrey Fentress has been measuring and mapping the walls to eventually gain protection from development or other destruction. Additional stone walls with unclear origin or purpose occur in other places near the San Francisco Bay, and researchers continue to discover more information about the walls.

The purpose of the walls is unknown. At first sight one might think it was a defense construction of some kind, but there are certain problems with this theory.

The walls are not continuous and are often composed of multiple sections.

In addition, the walls are not usually high enough to have been used as defense mechanisms.

It is also therefore highly unlikely they were used as fences. So, why were they built?

After meandering throughout the Oakland hills, the walls head inland towards Mt. Diablo where we encounter mysterious stone circles, up to 30 feet in diameter.

In one place the walls form a spiral 200 feet wide that circles a large boulder.

The Spanish settlers in the area reported that the walls were already there when they arrived, and when they asked the local Ohlone American Indians, they said the same thing. In 1904,

the founder of the Contra Costa Club said the walls were clearly of prehistoric origin and could be evidence that an advanced civilization had once settled in the East Bay.

We believe some of this work could have been done by ranchers, Basque shepherds, Chinese laborers, or some unknown others.

Aliens from outer space perhaps? We don’t think so.

If the early Ohlone built some of them they did so for a reason.

Much more scientific interest and research is required.

To view our GoogleEarth map of Bay Area Native American Indian sites

PCN Rock Art

The PCN – Pecked Curvilinear Nucleated Tradition

If you can understand that the PCN art on Ring Mountain represents perhaps thousands of years of significant importance to the people who lived here in the Bay Area then you will realize that what made it important then remains, making it important now.

These are cultural products and practices of native peoples of California and were done primarily during pre-historic times.

Not just relics or epiphenomena of the pre-historic past, the marked boulders are representations of meaningful social and cultural practices or rituals.

The basic elements are circles and ovals, which have nuclei that appear raised. They seldom occur in any discernable pattern. The elements are pecked into the surface of the rock.

Current thought held by some researchers is that some of the nucleated PCN centers had been removed to make charmstones.

Also, the use of powder from certain rocks in indigenous fertility rituals 
may inform us about the PCN tradition.

PCNs, are not isolated objects on the landscape, but rather manifestations of activities that have taken place, and, as such, have become part of the landscape. They have a story to tell.

Not just relics or epiphenomena of the pre-historic past, the marked boulders are representations of meaningful social and cultural practices and rituals. Even today, they are material manifestations that evoke history, memory and meanings.

Thank you Donna Gillette, 2011 Thesis

The Art Of Cupules

Cupules are widely believed to be the world’s most common rock art motifs, found in huge numbers on every continent except Antarctica.

They occur commonly in groupings that may number several hundred. They may be arranged in geometric formations, such as aligned sets, or occur in unstructured, random groups.

Surprisingly little is definitely known about the purpose or significance of cupules.

Many meanings or purposes have been suggested.

Typically, cupules were created by direct percussion, i.e. using hand-held hammer-stones. There is considerable bias against such forms of rock art, which have often been ignored by researchers, misunderstood or explained as utilitarian rock markings.

Cupules are among the least investigated forms of rock art. They have been subjected to a variety of over-interpretations based on very inadequate evidence, and there has been an incredible number of misidentifications.

Archaeologists have not presented a scientifically based, or even plausible, explanation or interpretation of the rather strange behavior pattern manifested in cupules.

Specific boulders bearing collections of cupules were visited by Pomo women to conduct fertility ceremonies.

These rituals, intended to lead to conception, involved the collection of the ‘fertilizing’ dust created in pounding the cupules to achieve pregnancy through the rock’s magical essence.

The Klamath of southern Oregon are said to have renewed cupules in order to summon the wind to change the weather. Similarly, the Shasta of California sought to influence the weather.

They pounded cupules to induce rainfall and wind.

One further explanation for cupules are as Hupa ‘calendar stones’.

Contemporary Hupa believe the stones to have some astronomical role.

It has been proposed that this tradition dates from ‘pre-Hokan’ or Paleo-Indian times, i.e. from between 12000 and 9000 years ago.

Cupules are significantly under- represented in the published record and have been widely ignored in the recording of rock art. The published record on the study of work traces in cupules can fairly be described as pitiful.

The most commonly mentioned archaeological interpretations of cupules can be grouped into a number of classes, based on purported uses.

1. The preparation of paints

2. Unspecified or specified cultic or magic rituals

3. The pounding of medicines (mineral or plant), pigments or spices

4. The placement of offerings, including human blood and semen.

5. The depiction of star constellations.

6. The map-like depiction of topographic elements of nearby landscapes.

7. Geophagy (ingestion of mineral dust).

8. Board games.

9. A symbolism that is no longer recoverable.

Other East Bay areas where we have encountered cupule rocks include: 
Upper Welch Creek, Stromer Spring, West Ohlone Rocky Ridge, Mallory Creek, Round Valley, Marsh Creek, Mira Vista Park, Canyon Trail Park.

Volvon Territory View

Extraordinary hiking adventures, winter, spring, summer and fall.

You’re looking over the Black Hills and Morgan Territory from the upper slopes of Mount Diablo.

The main Volvon Village lies between the two furthest ridge lines.

We know of over 80 village, camp, and food processing sites.

All right there. 10,000 years of California history.

Brushy Peak – Livermore

According to Jakki Kehl, Mutsun Ohlone

Brushy Peak is the only remaining sacred site in the greater East Bay that is still intact.

It has never been developed, nor has it ever had a trail or road built on its upper slopes.

Brushy Peak is recognized as a location where Coyote, the Creator, left a footprint.

The north side of Brushy Peak is currently only accessible through Livermore Parks and Rec.

It was, and continues to be, recognized as a sacred birthplace of the world. In one narrative, the supernatural being Condor roosted on a rock, his wife. When the rock became very hot, it burst and from it came Falcon. Falcon straightaway became chief.

Falcon with his grandfather Coyote, made the world safe for humans, then created people, establishing the names and locations of the people’s villages.

Ranger Pat Sotelo conducts outstanding tours. Here he is in one of many caves featuring bedrock mortars.

Brushy Peak is visible from great distance, and can be seen from the valley floor east of Tracy.

Most of the area lies within traditional Ohlone territory. It is mentioned in creation stories for the Northern valley Yokuts, Southern Sierra Miwoks and Bay Miwoks.

We call this rock “the falcon and the fetus” It could be many thousands of years old.

The peak and its environs have been recognized as sacred by generations of native Californians.

Due to its geographical position, the area lies at the center of a network of ancient trade routes that linked Bay Area Ohlones, Bay Miwoks, and Northern Valley Yokuts, who were drawn to the area for economic, social, and ceremonial events.

The Ssaoam triblet of the Ohlone peoples was probably the most closely linked to the Brushy Peak area, living in the surrounding dry hills and tiny valleys around the peak and nearby Altamont Pass.

Ssaoam populations in the dry summer months may have dispersed and reconverged at various camps throughout the year. The triblet hosted trade feasts near Brushy Peak, acting as brokers in a regional trade network with the Volvons, a tribelet of the Bay Miwok, and the Tamcans of the Northern Valley Yokuts.

The Ssaoam’s ability to prosper may have had as much to do with their occupying this strategic trading location as with their ability to use the area’s food and limited water resources.

Post Office Rock. Apparently this area was home to one of the most important trading centers in central California. Artifacts from all over the western states have been uncovered here.

Bushy Peak and Mount Diablo are integral to several California Indian versions of creation stories.

In one of these stories, the world is covered with water except at one rocky high spot where a condor roosts and begins a chain of events that leads to the creation of other animals and humans.

“Mount Diablo is a sacred place, too, but it’s already been damaged by a road and building at the top,” Kehl said. “We shouldn’t damage Brushy Peak.”

The park district agreed to put up trail signs saying “contemporary Native peoples still regard Brushy Peak as a special place and prefer that it not be visited.” Kehl dismissed the signs as inadequate.

This surreal landscape is dotted with caves and food processing bedrock mortars.

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The Lost City – Livermore

Most people have a hard time seeing the 10,000 year old California Native American society as an advanced thriving civilization populating every corner of the state and living in accordance with the natural, ever-evolving world. Think earthquakes, fire, droughts, and floods.

The lush paradise of California.

Recognize. Respect. Protect.

Right now just about the only people who are even aware of a history that pre-dates the pyramids in Egypt are those of you who are reading our emails.

Bob Bardell wrote this article 10 years ago to point out the central importance of the main Volvon Village to this larger scenario.

We have since advanced to recording over 80 village and camp sites in Volvon Territory.

Volvon Village artist: John Finger

Read Tom Stienstra’s San Francisco Chronicle article on Volvon National Park.

And our initial proposal to the East Bay Regional Park District 
and the Contra Costa County Water District, who at present control access to this property.

EBRPD 2018 Partial Response:

In 2011 the Park district was considering the development of a Cultural Resource Management Plan for the Morgan Territory area. This Plan was not developed and the Park District has no intention of doing so at this time.

CCWD 2018 Partial Response:

The location of specific cultural sites is confidential, and access is restricted. CCWD is not interested in opening these protected areas to the public or developing the area into a visitor attraction.

Grazing in or near culturally sensitive areas is conducted in a way that minimizes or avoids impact to the resources.

To quote The Talking Heads and David Byrne, things are “The Same as it Ever Was”

Kaaknu The Volvon artist: John Finger

Share with your friends.

Sacred Mountain – Danville

excerpts from: Mount Diablo as Myth and Reality

Bev Ortiz – American Indian Quarterly – 1989

Located in present-day Contra Costa County, California, 3,849- foot Mount Diablo stands virtually alone,

The most prominent natural landmark for vast distances. Its expansive summit view reveals Mount Lassen to the north, Loma Prieta to the south and Yosemite to the east. Mount Diablo is featured in the tradition of several California Indian nations.

Kaaknu the Volvon artist John Finger

Mount Diablo was the focal point of the physical and symbolic world for many of the groups within its view, and they vividly reflect the connection of Indian people to the personages or supernatural beings who inhabited the world before this world and to reverse the popular image of Indian accounts as quaint stories rather than the underpinning of viable religious and social systems.

Among the Southern Maidu (Nisenan),Mount Diablo “was well known with religious significance”

Harrington’s Chochenyo (East Bay Ohlone) field notes convey an image of the mountain as a very powerful place which could mysteriously hide things, where large snakes were seen but could not be caught, and where spirits still danced and whistled at cemetery sites on its slopes.

Mount Diablo was the site of ceremonial activity. Pomo elder and doctor Mabel McKay (1985) related that in the Diablo area “medicine people would go up and hold ceremonies there.” According to Laime Hayem (1985), her people, the Wintun, also used the mountain for religious observances: Wintun religious leaders would go up Mount Diablo and pray. This was before the Spanish came and took the land from my people. They went up there to pray for good health, food, and the living to pray for what they wanted. They went there to talk to the spirits, their God, and to pray to the Heavenly Father. Mount Diablo is the Wintun’s sacred mountain.

Anthropologist Edward Gifford came to the mountain in the 1930s.There he was shown an area below the summit where Gifford related: “For generations, bands of Indians, men, women, and children made an annual trek to the summit of Mt. Diablo where they rendezvoused with other tribes of the region. The purpose was to participate in the intertribal autumn festival which lasted for a week or longer.”

Various central California Indian nations had many names for the mountain, but none was translated as an evil spirit or devil in their original sources. These names include the Northern Sierra Miwok “0j.ompil~e” (Merriam 1910; Callaghan 1986), Chochenyo “Tuyshtak” (Harrington 1929),Nisenan “Sukku jaman” (Uldall and Shipley 1966), and Central Sierra Miwok “Supemenenu” (Gifford 1955).

As early as 1811, Ramon Abella identified the mountain as “Cerro Alto de 1os Bolbones” or High Point of the Volvon.

An 1805 military expedition from San Francisco under the command of Gabriel Moraga became involved in “a hot engagement” with Indians at the foot of Mount Diablo. The Spanish were routed when “an unknown personage, decorated with the most extraordinary plumage” appeared. Following the Indians’ victory, this “Puy,” or “evil spirit,” departed for Mount Diablo.

This agent of the devil, which appeared in such extraordinary plumage was likely a kuksuyu, or sacred dance spirit representing the deity Kuksu and, as such, a powerful and important part of the religious observances of Central California Indian people . The feathered regalia worn by the dancer symbolized the relationship of the people to the supernatural.

Chochenyo consultants, described the “kuksui” dancer as wearing a headdress of the tip wingfeathers of the auron (golden eagle).

Over the years, there were occasional attempts to alter the mountain’s image. In 1866 the Congregational Church led an effort to change Mount Diablo’s name. On January 11 of that year, the San Francisco- based church newspaper published a front page editorial on the subject declaring, “We abhor the wicked creature to whom the name is inappropriate, and spurn the use of the name for anything noble or good on earth.” Church representatives suggested the name Kahwookum, a word learned from an unidentified Indian living at the base of the mountain. Despite the fact that church members could not communicate clearly with their consultant, they presumed that Kahwookum meant “Everywhere Seen” or “very nearly Pilot Mountain”: “We rejoiced at finding this diamond of a name for this splendid mountain.We wanted-a name with no devil in it – euphonious, original, becoming”.

Such examples demonstrate how the mountain’s Indian history has been ignored, devalued, belittled, and convoluted by non-Indian myths and legends.

Listen as Jim Cooper, an herb doctor who was born in the Diablo area told how sacred Mount Diablo is. He said that as long as the mountain stands it will be a sacred mountain. He said that the entire mountain is sacred. He called it the Medicine Mountain. In his language it was called Kinchiiwi.

Read Bev Ortiz’s entire article:

The main Volvon Village 715 bedrock mortars and counting artist: John Finger

Tuolumne Meadows – Yosemite

The Far Far East Bay. 

This High Sierra magical geologic setting was a meeting,ceremonial and trading place for the Mono tribe from the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada and the Miwok tribe from Yosemite Valley. Then as now it is only really accessible for 3-4 months a year.At 8500 feet it is surrounded by majestic snow capped peaks. Our guide Richard had plotted out some possible areas to examine.

This is on the shelf below Lembert Dome. 4 bedrock mortars.A lot of shelf there folks. It took us two tries to find it..There are reportably more brm’s scattered all around.

This fantastic village site just east of Soda Springswas once littered with obsidian flakes but has been picked almost clean by park visitors. People still drink the effervescent healing waters from Soda Spring.

No bedrock mortars here but when you stand on this ground it is easy to see why it was a premier summertime village site. For thousands of years.

Richard picked up a possible cutting tool.We left this and the obsidian flakes right there.

Driving through the meadows, and over the Tioga Pass,makes one really appreciate why Yosemite is a National Park.

Let There Be Daylight

This beautiful 15 bedrock mortar work station, displaying multiple mortar styles and shapes, has been a favored destination of ours for many years.

It is hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years old. 
Sit, and think about where you are.

This is a couple of years accumulated miscellaneous debris (cattle, leaves, dirt, etc.), and is how we recently found it.

We want people to see and appreciate these sacred sites when they walk by them, instead of not realizing they are even there.

Let there be daylight.

and, if you can, spend a little time out in the field.

Coyote Hills – Fremont

Thank you Bev Ortiz, East Bay Regional Park District’s Cultural Services Coordinator,  for the best display we’ve seen of our Native American’s history and story today.

Go and read all the text on all of the displays. Take your kids. Watch and listen to the short great videos on balsa boat and basket making. 

Linda Yamane, premier basket maker, is featured in the videos.Watch and Listen.

There are a couple very cool dioramas.

Apparently there are 4 distinct shell mounds dating back 2500 years in the wonderful marshlands of this fantastic park. If you get out to the Alameda Creek Trail and look back at this mound from above it is really quite remarkable. 

Not sure if this is a Sweat Lodge or a Roundhouse.

The park offers immersive experiences on this sacred land from time to time.We did not try to get through this fence.

That’s the Alameda Creek channel right by it flowing into the bay. Try to imagine how many people may have lived along Alameda Creek in prehistoric times. This watershed extends all the way back into Henry Coe State Park. These shell mounds supplied vital food stuffs to people right up the creek and beyond.

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