Against All Odds

Native Californian Stories of Endurance & Continuance

Have you ever wondered what happened to the first people of the place now known as Hayward and beyond?

We invite you to join Jalquin/Saclan Ohlone/Bay Miwok elder Ruth Orta and her five-generation, 60+ member extended family as they share details of their tribal, family, and ancestral history. Despite more than two centuries of upheaval, suffering, and change since the colonization of their homelands, against all odds the region’s first people continue to bring their cultures forward into the future while living as modern Americans.

Students at Cal State East Bay created the exhibition for The C. E. Smith Museum on the Hayward campus. They collaborated with exhibition Humanities Advisors Beverly R. Ortiz, Ph.D., an ethnographic consultant and a Naturalist and Cultural Services Coordinator for East Bay Regional Park District from 1980-2018, and Nancy Olsen, Ph.D., a professor of Anthropology at de Anza College. Both women have worked with Ruth Orta’s family since the 1990s and 1980s respectively. With backing from CSU, East Bay’s A2E2 fund and California Humanities – a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities – the students were able to conduct interviews with the family members and create this exhibit to share what they learned.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit