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5 Generations

Jalquin/Saclan Ohlone/Bay Miwok elder Ruth Orta and three other generations of her family share details of their tribal, family, and ancestral history. Learn how despite more than two centuries of upheaval and change, the region’s first people continue to bring their cultures forward into the future.

The Family’s Heart: Trina Marine Ruano

Trina Family matriarch Trina Marine Ruano (1902-1986) loved her Native heritage and her huge, extended family. She spent her youngest years living in a modest home at the site of a multi-ethnic Native settlement (“rancheria”) near rural Highway 84, where descendants of the serf-like labor force of a one-time Mexican rancho would soon find themselves displaced to make way for the Calaveras Reservoir.

The Family’s Heart

Old and New Traditions

Old and New Traditions

Old and New Traditions

Celebrations

Ohlones and Miwoks marked life’s important transitional events with both private and public ritual. Life’s important transitional events continue to bring Ruth’s family together. As in the past, some of these events center on religious observance, such as baptisms and confirmations. Others center on the same types of holiday observances and celebrations familiar to most Americans.

Celebrations

Foods

Ohlones and Miwoks enjoyed dozens of plant and animal foods, including roasted, steamed, and jerked elk, antelope, and deer meat, and fish and shellfish. Now-rare native food plants once proliferated under Ohlone and Miwok land management practices.

Foods

Creativity

In the old days, beauty permeated even the most mundane aspects of daily life. Nearly every object Ohlones and Bay Miwoks made had creative and artistic qualities, whether an exquisitely woven basket, a finely-chipped and well-formed obsidian arrowhead, or an iridescent abalone pendant. Dance regalia, created with sophisticated and elaborate fiber, feather, shell, and leather work, honored the spirits in everything. Today, Ohlones and Bay Miwoks express their creativity using both old and new materials and methods, as amply attested by the objects displayed in this case.  

Creativity

Childhood Nurturance

For Ruth and her family, the values of love, responsibility, respect, and caring for ancestors, family, other people, and everything in the natural world continue to inspire and guide their day-to-day lives. 

Childhood Nurturance

Work: Past to Present

Several Orta family members, including children and great-grandchildren, participate, or have participated, in ancestral site monitoring. The family wishes this deeply heart-wrenching type of work would someday end, if only developers and agency planners could ever be compelled to create new roads and buildings without digging up ancestors and ancestral sites.

Work: Past to Present

Religious Practices: Past to Present

Because of the Catholic Church’s association with the late 1700s mission system that devastated Ruth’s people and their culture, some of Ruth’s extended family members choose not to participate in the Catholic Church. Ruth, who attends church faithfully, disdains the mission system as “the downfall of my people.” But she believes that Catholicism’s God is the same one as that of her ancestors, and that it is possible to separate the values and spiritual tenants of Catholic theology from the human failings of the Church.

Religious Practices: Past to Present
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