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Living on Ohlone Land

A historic effort to repatriate East Bay land to Ohlone descendants marks a turning point for indigenous cultural renewal and prompts the question: What does it mean to live on indigenous land?

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Part of the goal is to provide people access to food outside of a market exchange relationship, LaRose explained. "People talk about the spiritual connection as well as physical connection to the land," she said. "How we used to live off land. How we could just go outside and find food. The idea here is to bring that back."

In the meantime, Gould said her adult daughter has begun to have dreams in the traditional Chochenyo Ohlone language. Some of the old ceremonies that have been dormant are beginning to return. This year, on the autumn equinox, the 105th Ave. land will host the first traditional dance arbor ceremony in Chochenyo Ohlone territory in more than 200 years.

Editor's note: We have made several clarifications to this story, including the fact that the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site is one of the oldest sites of human habitation along San Francisco Bay (it may not be the oldest site); that the ground beneath the Spenger's parking lot has never been extensively excavated (not that it has never excavated at all); that the site supported around 4,000 years of human habitation (instead of 5,000 years); and that the Ohlone maintain a ceremonial connection with the shellmound and village site to the present day (to say the connection has been continuous may be an overstatement).

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