Native American Indian Sites in the East Bay Hills and Beyond

Greetings hikers, explorers, history buffs, and Native Americans interested in preserving their physical cultural history wherever possible.

In the years since James Benney published Native American Indian Sites in the East Bay Hills A Guidebook (Rocky Ridge Publications 2006) we at have continued our explorations. We’ve discovered some amazing new sites and expanded our knowledge of old ones. In 2008 we decided to produce an appendix to the Guidebook. For our format, we chose to exploit the resources of Google Earth. This KMZ file represents a fourth revision of that original appendix. It features 25 brand new sites as well as updates to others. We’ve continued to add sites beyond the East Bay and hope to add more in the future.

We want to thank Doc, Bill, Lou, Jeff, Dave, Joel, Jaime, Michael, Alex, Nick, Adrian, Richard, Rick, and John for their contributions to this latest KMZ. Special thanks to Louise Lacey.

We organize the sites first by language group, then by tribelet. We are indebted to Randall Milliken for his tribelet territorial maps published in Native American History Studies for the Los Vaqueros Project: A Synthesis, Fredrickson, Stewart, and Ziesing, Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University, 1997. Any errors in site placement (there are a number of close calls) are entirely ours. We are also indebted to Milliken’s classic work A Time of Little Choice, The Disintegration of Tribal Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area 1769-1810, Ballena Press, 1995. Appendix I from that work, “Encyclopedia of Tribal Groups,” was especially valuable in preparing our tribelet descriptions.

Another useful source for determining tribelet and settlement locations is the Guide to SF Bay Area Creeks. This is a well-organized site with fantastic maps. Check it out!

Our language group list is organized like this: Bay Miwok, Ohlone, Coast Miwok, Patwin, Pomo, and unclassified tribelets. For three remote sites in the Diablo range near the San Joaquin Valley we don’t have enough information to make even a good guess about tribelet affiliation. Open the language group folder to see the triblet folders, and open triblet folders to see the sites for each triblet. In the Google Earth viewer a campfire icon marks the location of each site, and a number, if any, represents the bedrock mortar count.

Finding all the Indian sites we present here involved a lot of time, effort, and hiking, and we loved every minute of it. No doubt there are many more sites to find, but the number of all findable sites is dwarfed by the number of sites buried by alluvium over millennia or destroyed in the last 200 years.

Just as it says on the Contra Costa Watershed Forum’s signs, the sites presented here are “ours to protect.” Should you see anyone digging at one of these sites, or see any evidence of digging, report it. No one should damage or deface any rock that bears traces of the Indian people who once lived in the East Bay–or anywhere else. What remains of their culture is part of their legacy. We should respect and not desecrate it.

The text in this KMZ is by Bob Bardell. Photos by James Benney except where noted.