Newfound Artifacts alter timeline for Native Americans in California

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tags: California, anthropology, Native American history

On a rugged coastal bluff overlooking Tomales Bay is the site of a former Coast Miwok village that tells a remarkable story about Native American resilience in the face of oppression.

There, amid the biting winds and foggy mists at Toms Point in Marin County, are buried obsidian and chert cutting tools, animal remains, and other signs of indigenous life long after the Spanish missions closed down and the American frontier was settled.

The presence of these artifacts is evidence, archaeologists say, that native people in Northern California carried on their traditions and maintained tribal ties much longer than many historians thought.

“It’s a story of continuity and change and persistence that hasn’t been told before,” said Tsim Schneider, an assistant professor of anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, who is himself a tribal member and contends that the cultural and spiritual legacy of the Miwok lives on today. “It’s not a story of loss or acculturation.”

Schneider’s findings at Toms Point, a spectacularly rugged promontory at the edge of the ocean, contradicts the standard narrative that all California Indians were killed off or held captive in colonial missions, and later rancherias and reservations.

Read entire article at San Francisco Chronicle

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