It is important to understand where a website like this comes from, who authored it, and how they came to their decisions. This website represents a collaboration between members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and the Ohlone Indian Tribe–all of whom trace their ancestry through Mission Santa Clara–and non-Native faculty at Santa Clara University, with financial support from the Critical Mission Studies program and Santa Clara University. The specific individuals and groups involved in this project are those whose ancestors were associated with Mission Santa Clara and who have been working with the university for years to redress harmful inaccuracies and the erasure of Native people in the public remembrance of this site. With the creation of this website, we aspire to provide a platform for these Ohlone perspectives to be shared with the broader public so that others interested in learning and teaching about Ohlone heritage can more readily center Ohlone voices and priorities in their own work. All content was discussed and approved.
Ohlone tribal members are part of a thriving San Francisco Bay Area community that is home to many modern tribal groups and organizations. Individuals and members of other groups in the area have a variety of perspectives and priorities when it comes to representing Ohlone heritage, and users are therefore advised to seek a diversity of sources and perspectives to educate themselves.
Charlene C. Nijmeh is the Chairwoman of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. She is from the Marine-Sanchez lineage that descends from the first peoples of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her ancestors are direct descendants of those peoples brought into the mission system at Santa Clara, Mission San Jose, and Mission Dolores in San Francisco.
Charlene began her engagement in Tribal affairs at an early age of 8 when she was exposed to her Tribe’s efforts to repatriate ancestral remains during the early 80s. The previous Chairwoman (Charlene’s mother) made sure to involve Charlene and other Tribal children and stress the importance of being responsible for our ancestral remains and ancestral lands.
As she became a young adult she worked as a Native American Monitor and Field Crew for the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Cultural Resources Management firm providing Tribal consultation to commercial developers and construction companies, municipalities, county, state, and federal agencies on ancestral Muwekma Ohlone heritage village and cemetery sites that included monitoring, mitigation, excavation, removal and relocation of ancestral remains.
In 2018, Charlene was elected as Tribal Chairwoman to help lead her people after the retirement of Rosemary Cambra (the previous chair). As Chair of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, she represents over 600 tribal members who comprise the Ten lineages of the previously recognized, never terminated Verona Band of Alameda County. Her mother Rosemary Cambra has been an active and persistent advocate of indigenous rights in the San Francisco Bay area for 40 years and Charlene has worked to carry this legacy and improve the lives of tribal members. She is also the President of Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, Inc., the Tribe’s Cultural Resources Management firm.
A corporation devoted towards preserving the material and cultural heritage of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.
Monica V. Arellano is presently serving as the Tribal Vice Chairwoman for the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area. She also is the Vice President of Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, Inc., the Tribe’s Cultural Resources Management firm. Additionally, Monica represents the Tribe on the State of California’s Native American Heritage Commission’s Most Like Descendant list, when ancestral heritage sites are encountered during construction projects. Monica protects the Tribe’s aboriginal and religious rights while caring for the proper and respectful treatment of their ancestral remains and cultural artifacts. She is also co-author on many archaeological reports regarding the Tribe’s ancestral heritage sites. Monica is one of the founding Members and Co-Chair of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe Language Committee and is proactive in restoring her Tribe’s Muwekma Ohlone Language, while also working on interpretive museum displays and various publications about her Tribe’s 10,000-year history and heritage. More recently, Monica has been appointed as the Vice President for the Muwekma Ohlone Preservation Foundation, the Tribe’s Land Trust. She is helping the Tribe access land and reconnect Tribal members to the land and indigenous knowledge through stewardship. She has the authority and privilege to issue Land Acknowledgments and public Welcoming Declarations to Muwekma’s Ancestral Land on behalf of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. Monica also has the honor of giving Opening Blessings in the Tribe’s native Chochenyo language.
All of Monica’s paternal Ohlone ancestors were missionized into the Mission San Jose and Mission Dolores. Her lineage is descended from her (four-greats)- grandmother Efrena Quennatole (born 1797) who was of the Carquin Ohlone/Napian
Tribe (Northern San Francisco Bay) and her (four-greats)-grandfather, Liberato Culpecse (born 1787), baptized at Mission Dolores in 1801 and who was of the Jalquin/Yrgin Ohlone Tribe of the greater Hayward/Castro Valley/San Lorenzo/San Leandro and south Oakland area.
Monica’s great grandmother was Mercedes Marine. Mercedes was born in 1895 on the Alisal Rancheria in Pleasanton, CA. She was baptized at Mission San Jose and buried at the Ohlone Cemetery in Fremont, CA. Mercedes’ godparents were Capitan Jose Antonio (Chief) and his wife Jacoba, a Máyyin (female leader) of the Previously Federally Recognized Verona Band of Alameda County, whose descendants are currently enrolled in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Monica’s grandfather, Albert Marine Arellano, was born in 1909 on the Alisal Rancheria and was baptized at Mission San Jose. As a young married man, Albert later built his home for his family in Russell City, CA which is now Hayward, Jalquin/Yrgin Ancestral Muwekma Ohlone Territory. Monica’s father, Joel Cota Arellano, Sr. (recently deceased), was a respected Tribal Elder who served as the First Chairman of the Muwekma Elder’s Council.
Monica lives in Castro Valley, Jalquin/Yrgin Tribal territory, with her son Lucas Tuyhešte. It was important for Monica to give her son a Chochenyo name. She chose Tuyhešte, which means “Strong” in their native Chochenyo language. Monica’s main focus is raising her son, who is her source of inspiration in the preservation of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s language, culture, and heritage. Aho!
Sheila Guzman-Schmidt is a descendant of the Jalquin Ohlone / Saclan Bay Miwok and Delta/North Valley Yokuts. She is presently a Tribal Councilwoman for the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area and Co-Chair of the Muwekma Language Committee. Jose Guzman whose parents were Delta North Valley Yokuts is Sheila’s Great-Grandfather and was one of
the last knowledgeable speakers of the Delta Yokuts and Chochenyo Ohlone Language until his death in 1934. Jose married Francisca Nonessi whose ancestry is traced back to the Jalquin, Saclan, Napian and Choquoime tribal groups on her Father’s side and Francisca’s mother was the younger sister of Jose Antonio, the last Capitan of the Alisal Rancheria / Verona Band community
form the Sunol/Niles/Pleasanton/Livermore area. Sheila’s Grandfather is Alfred Guzman who was their middle son. Alfred served in the 28th Infantry Division in France during WWI. Alfred married Minnie Higuera from Pleasanton and their third child Frank Harry Guzman is Sheila’s Father. Her father served in the European Theatre in the U.S. Army 345th Infantry Regiment
As a Native California Indian growing up in the East Bay and Central Valley, Sheila feels that the rich history and cultural heritage of the Ohlone People should be both celebrated and preserved for future generations.
Sheila currently lives in the Central Valley where she has been working 29 years as a Respiratory Care Practitioner. Aho!
Gloria E. Arellano-Gomez is a member of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area. Gloria is a Former Council Member and Secretary for the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Council. Her Tribe is currently seeking restoration as a Federally Recognized Tribe. As one of the speakers of her Tribe’s Muwekma Ohlone Chochenyo language, Gloria proudly sits on the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe Language Committee and is proactive in the revitalization and utilization of their native Chochenyo language.
All of Gloria’s paternal Ohlone ancestors were missionized into Mission San Jose and Mission Dolores. Her lineage is descended from her (four-greats)-grandmother Efrena Quennatole (born 1797) who was of the Karkin Ohlone/Napian Tribe (Northern San Francisco Bay) and her (four-greats)-grandfather, Liberato Culpecse (born 1787), baptized at Mission Dolores and who was of the Jalquin Ohlone Tribe of the greater Hayward/San Lorenzo/San Leandro and south Oakland area.
Gloria’s great grandmother was Mercedes Marine. Mercedes was born in 1895 on the Alisal Rancheria in Pleasanton, CA. She was baptized at Mission San Jose and buried at the Ohlone Cemetery in Fremont, CA. Mercedes’ godparents were Capitan Jose Antonio (Chief) and his wife Jacoba, a Máyyin (female leader) of the Previous Federally Recognized Verona Band of Alameda County, whose descendants are currently enrolled in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Gloria’s grandfather, Albert Marine Arellano, was born in 1909 and baptized at Mission San Jose. He and his family lived in Russell City, CA which is now the city of Hayward, Jalquin/Yrgin Ancestral Muwekma Ohlone Territory. Gloria’s father, Joel C. Arellano, Sr. (recently deceased), was a respected Elder in the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and served as Chairman of the Muwekma Elder’s Council.
Gloria has the honor of giving Opening Blessings and Land Acknowledgments to her ancestral homeland, at events throughout the Bay Area. She also has the honor of saying prayers in her native Muwekma Ohlone Chochenyo language, at many of those events.
Gloria lives in San Lorenzov Jalquin/Yrgin Ancestral Muwekma Ohlone Territory, with her husband Jorge and their two daughters, Isabella ’Amne and Georgiana Kormey. As a speaker of Chochenyo, she thought that it was meaningful to give her daughters Chochenyo names. Her eldest daughter’s middle name is ’Amne which means “rain” in Chochenyo, and her youngest daughter’s middle name is Kormey, which means “moon” in Chochenyo. Gloria is a devoted wife and mother who keeps busy with her family responsibilities. She and her family are devoted to their Tribe’s cause and enjoy helping in the Tribe’s information and exhibit booth, at events throughout the Bay Area. Gloria’s daughters are her source of inspiration in the important work that she does to preserve her Muwekma Ohlone Tribe’s language, culture, and heritage. Aho!
Horše ṭuuxi, kaanak raakat! Good day, my name is Desiree Dolores Vigil. I’m a member of the Ohlone Indian Tribe, Chochenyo speakers of the Bay Area. My ancestors guide me in this modern world. My passion is bringing them home to Oroysom Village where they can rest peacefully. I am able to do this through my work in construction on Ohlone land. We are here still.
Andrew A. Galvan is a descendant of the Ohlone, Bay Miwok, Plains Miwok and Patwin Indians whose ancestral lands comprise the greater San Francisco Bay Region. His family’s roots reach back beyond European contact in the area. Andrew traces his ancestral lineage to the laying of the cornerstone of the first buildings at Mission San Jose by his great-great-grandfather Chief Tarino.
SCU faculty who lead this project included Amy Lueck (English), Lee Panich (Anthropology), and Matthew Kroot (now of Arizona State University). We would also like to acknowledge the other incredible SCU faculty and students who contributed to this project, including CJ Gabbe (Environmental Sciences) and Bates Detweiler (‘23), who created the interactive map; Teresa Contino (‘23), who created the timeline and contributed to other aspects of this research; and Danny Walsh (‘24) and Greta Seitz (‘21), who created this website.