50th Anniversary of Ohlone Park/California Indian Arts and Culture Festival

Jennifer Bates, Board Chair Person of the California Indian Basket Weavers Association and Director of the Indian Market at Tuolumne Rancheria for seventeen years. Photo courtesy of Dugan Aguilar.

Published May 24, 2019

By Nanette Bradley Deetz

BERKELEY, Calif.  —  The Bay area is now approaching the 250th year since the Portola Expedition recorded the first sighting of the San Francisco Bay by outsiders on November 2, 1769. The expedition climbed a ridge and viewed an immense arm of the sea and were stunned by what they saw. Just one day later they marched down the ridge and re-named everything in the Spanish language, and claimed that all land now belonged to Spain.

“I wonder what our world would look like today without colonization. After 250 years of colonization and genocide, California’s tribal nations are in a strong renewal. We now have a chance to re-do that first mistake, and learn from these intelligent, creative, and generous people how to lead a fully human life, and to adapt to a changing world,” said Malcolm Margolin, executive director of the California Institute for Community, Art, and Nature.

On June 1, from 11 am to 4 pm the public is invited to celebrate with the Ohlone people the 50th Anniversary of Ohlone Park. The park is located on Hearst Avenue from Milvia to Sacramento Streets.

This celebration salutes the citizen activists who founded the park in 1969 and will honor the native California Indians whose heritage dates back thousands of years. The entire festival will be curated by Jennifer Bates (Mewuk). Ms. Bates is a traditional basket weaver, and was the Board Chair of the California Basket Weavers Association. For the past seventeen years she has directed the Indian Market at Tuolumne Rancheria. Ms. Bates is highly esteemed by the California Native community, and regularly sits on panels for a number of foundations.

Festivities will begin at 11 am with a special re-dedication of the original mural painted by artist Jean LaMarr (Pit River and Paiute). The mural depicts the history and communal life of the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, and is scheduled for enhancement over the next several years by the City of Berkeley. Ms. LaMarr will be present to speak about her work. The City of Berkeley’s Civic Arts Commission voted to fund completion of a native plant garden, grinding rock, and art benches around to mural to be installed in 2019.

From noon to 4 pm there will be activities for the community: a native California Indian arts and culture festival, including music and dance, craft demonstrations and sales, historical displays of photographs and news stories from 1969; an old time acoustic music jam, a plant and crop swap, dance and martial arts classes, kids fun fest, food vendors selling traditional native food, and more. The entire event is free to the public.

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