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The History and Archaeology of Yerba Buena Island - The Ohlone

Women spent much of their time weaving the baskets needed for gathering, preparing, and storing food. Houses were probably domed structures covered with rushes, grass, or redwood bark. Women wore skirts of plant fiber or deer skin and often had tattoos on their faces, necks, and shoulders. Men often wore no clothing at all. Some people may have worn capes of feathers, otter skins, or rabbit skins.


The Ohlone had a well-established social structure with a leader who governed tribal actions and settled disputes. They held numerous ceremonial gatherings and dances throughout the year.

For information on the Muwekma Ohlone-one of many Ohlone groups-visit their website at http://muwekma.org

The Bay Area was rich in natural resources and the people lived by collecting, hunting, fishing, and trading with neighboring groups. There was a division of labor by gender. Women harvested plant foods such as grass seeds, bulbs, nuts (acorns), and fruits (wild strawberries and blackberries). Men fished with nets or hook and line and hunted game with bow and arrows or traps (for small animals such as rabbit and quail). The Ohlone used tule boats to travel on the Bay and through the marshes.