mak-nuunu • our story
We are two Ohlone people with the desire of following in the footsteps of those before us. Ohlone culture is vast, varied, and always beautiful and we are both proud of our Indian identities and active in the ongoing revival of our languages: Chochenyo from the East Bay, and Rumsen from the Carmel Valley. As we work together, and collectively with members of our communities, we work to decolonize; stripping away layers of imposed identity to return to what is ours. It's a process, but one that is ongoing and started far before we were born, and will carry on after we are gone. But we are certain that we will do everything in our capacity to continue to fight for what matters: the sacred, our culture, our families and our land. We strive to live as those before us did.
We have worked hard to understand Native plants of our Ohlone homelands along with their traditional uses, and listen attentively to testimony from our elders' recollections of old Indian foods they remember. This is combined with documentation recorded by members of our Indian communities in the 1920s and 1930s from Sunol and Carmel, records that have been preserved and provide a crucial link to understanding the value, respect and love our old timers have for these Indian foods; in the process we have developed a deep and personal love for these same foods and have personally seen how these foods can heal, empower and better connect us to our Ohlone cultural identity.
The process of decolonizing diet is strengthened with a strong foundation of cultural knowledge, and especially frequent use of our Ohlone languages – Chochenyo and Rumsen. Weaving together language use and reconnecting with our traditional foods empowers us to look at these old foods through an Indigenous lens – by understanding these are the same foods our people have always eaten, and when we use language to celebrate these foods, to pray for them, to converse over them we are brought closer to our Ohlone ways and our family is collectively strengthened.
Yet more, by understanding traditional wellness and embracing Ohlone health we are further empowered. This involves being outside, actively walking together in our special places such as our old village sites, climbing up peaks and strengthening ancestral bonds to those places we descend from. This can take form by embracing our traditional games, by celebrating and swimming in our water places, by going together as a family to gather our Native plants. When we are empowered with food, language and culture all while our bodies are strengthened from traditions that make us full, we can achieve a whole lot.
It is our hope to create beautiful Ohlone cuisine that allows us to be closer to those before us and to honor the legacy we inherit from them. Our primary goal is always the wellness and decolonization of our Ohlone communities. We also hope to educate non-Indian people about who we are, as the Indigenous people of the East Bay and Carmel Valley. We hope to dispel negative stereotypes through actively demonstrating the vibrancy and beauty of Ohlone culture, and especially the deep + living connections we have to our homelands. We hope to raise awareness to people who are not indigenous to California what the true culture and cuisine of this beautiful and ancient place really is.