Native Americans of San Jose

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The language family which anthropologists call the Costanoan occupied the region from Monterey up to the Bay area. Costanoan is derived from the Spanish word meaning "coast people." Another general term that is used to designate speakers of the Coastanoan language is Ohlone. This is the most common term used for the San Jose and San Francisco de Asis Indians.

OHLONE CEREMONIAL DANCE AT MISSION SAN JOSE

OHLONE CEREMONIAL DANCE AT MISSION SAN JOSE
By Expedition artist José Cardero - 1816.

San Jose also recruited Indians from other groups. Neophytes at the mission included some Lake Miwok (who lived near the creeks and streams south of Clear Lake), Eastern Miwok (occupying land north of the mission), Coast Miwok (whose villages extended from Sausalito up to Bodega Bay), Patwin (who lived in the region from the San Francisco Bay to the western parts of the Sacramento valley) and Northern Valley Yokuts (whose land was east of San Jose and extended up to Stockton).

PATWIN EARTH LODGES

PATWIN EARTH LODGES
Tribes of California by Stephen Powers

Sadly the number of natives in the Bay area declined steadily after the mission era ended. Most of the neophytes became laborers on area ranches. In the 1840s there were a number of multiethnic Indian communities in the area, composed of the people who had lived at the missions. However, these shrank in size as the young people moved away. The Indian Scholar Richard Levy reports that "the Costanoan languages were probably all extinct by 1935." No official Federal government recognition has ever been given to the Costanoans. 1

  • 1. "Costanoan" by Richard Levy pp 485-495; "Eastern Miwok" by Richard Levy pp 398413-425; "Northern Valley Yokuts " by William J. Wallace pp 462-470 in Volume 8 CALIFORNIA of Handbook of North American Indians, Smithsonian Institute: Washington D.C., 1978
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