MAXIMA AND MARIA YNITIA

OLOMPALI COAST MIWOK:

The Coast Miwok Indians lived in the region for over 13,000 years (that we now know of, that number keeps growing), populating a large village called Olompali. Their creator god was the coyote.

A small replica village in the state park includes a redwood bark tepee-like kotcha and a roundish tule kotcha. Functional, but not fancy -- and to control pest infestation, Miwoks would burn down their dwellings annually. Scattered picnic tables are a clue this specific site is not sacred.

"The replica is only for educational purposes."

 

A number of areas help tell the Miwok story, from a "kitchen rock" used for preparing meals, to a trail with carefully nurtured, historically accurate plants used for food and other aspects of tribe life.

 

The region came under Spanish and then Mexican rule as settlers and missionaries moved in. Like many indigenous peoples encountering Europeans, diseases, imprisonment in the Missions, killing became legal under the law to kill a Native American.  I believe Joseph Sanchez was quoted to say that they got $5 a scalp for the Natives on this land, all decimated the Coast Miwoks of Olompali, and by the 19th century there were under a hundred left. The Olompali land was deeded by the Mexican government to Coast Miwok leader Camilo Ynitia, who was forced to sell it soon after, to James Black, who happened to be the local town assesor and reassessed the land and ... well... you know the rest.  He sold it for around $5K, over 6,000 acres soon after the "fake do-gooders" deeded it to him. Miwoks stopped living in Olompali in the 1850s after Camillo was killed. 

 

Maria Ynitia and Maxima inherited the land as teens and basically met up with a couple colonial guys who were here to establish towns for the government, etc.  So they sold what was left soon after Camillo died and had a smaller version of the trail of tears, from Olompali to what is now Hopland (originally Senal).  There is a street there named after Joseph Knox who was the man that married Maria Ynitia (on the right in the pictures).  He went up there, founded Hopland, and basically became the mayor, tax guy, Judge, lawyer, etc.  That's how it was done then, no necessary degrees or voting in.  As founder of the town he can do that. 

Today, the some of the Miwok terms are known around the world, via a pop culture nod.   One Miwok local Historian said yes, Marin resident George Lucas was inspired by the Miwoks to name his race of toy-ready warrior teddy bears "Ewoks" in Star Wars (the redwood forest scenes for the planet Endor were filmed two valleys south, near Skywalker Ranch).

Grandpa Camillo Ynitia:

"Tell them," he would tell his two daughters, Maxima and Maria Ynitia, as they both gathered with him. "Tell them, tell your children, tell your grandchildren, to tell their children and grandchildren, to tell their grandchildren.....Tell them never to forget our People. Tell them we were here for thousands of years. Tell them that that all changed. Tell them that we were a Peaceful and Happy People. Tell your children, in words that they will never forget!"

"Why has this happened to us, Papa," Maxima and Maria would take turns talking. "We will tell them, we'll tell our children, and they will tell thiers, and for generations on down, they will tell the Story of a People that once were here, in large numbers, our ancestors, for many many hundreds and thousands of years, dwelled on the land, freely to roam in harmony with Nature, the way we were taught, the way of our People. We will tell them, Papa."

"Tell them that they brought the diseases, they incarcerated us in what were supposed to be safe houses, Missions. They made the laws. Be strong, Maxima and Maria. It's up to you two to carry on the lineage and the heritage. Fight with all you have to preserve our history and our ways, even if that means your voice. Sit with whoever will listen, and tell them the story of Our People, The Coast Miwok (of the Southern Marin Area.) We fished these waters, we hunted these grounds, we fed our People, we danced the ceremonies. We loved our family, we were surrounded by our family. We watched the same waters of the San Francisco Bay that they will see generations after us. Tell them, Girls, Never To Forget Us!"

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