- 2000 B.C.
that once lived in Monterey County were well established
by the time the Spanish explorers documented them in the
late 1760s. The major Monterey County indian groups were
the Ohlone (formerly Costanoan), Esselen, and Salinan.
The indians occupied all of California in well defined
provinces or territories. The provinces were defined by
natural topographies such as rivers and mountains. These
provinces provided a sense of security so there was little
need for warfare and most tribes lived a peaceful and
harmonious existence. There are no clear records of the
number of indians living in the county at the time.
Homelands of the early Peoples
items among the indians were for things such as obsidian
used for arrowheads and sea shells. Shells provided an
artistic avenue and a useful currency. The main diet of
the indians was a mush made of acorns. The acorns needed
to be leached of the tannic acids and ground into meal
before cooking the mush with hot stones in a water proof
basket. Grinding rocks used in the preparation of acorn
meal still exists today in spots around
county (in the Monterey Presido, and in Carmel Valley
on the Esselen tribe land)
A favorite fish was salmon, folk lore mentions
that the salmon was plentiful in those days. Salmon swam
in most streams, some times twice a year. According the
first European account the indians wore very little clothing,
not unusual considering the Monterey Countys mild climate
and the generations of indians acclimating to the weather.
darkest time in the indian civilization was the California
Mission Era. When most of the indians were rounded up
and forced to serve in the Missions. Not allowed to speak
their native tongue, not able to practice their customs
and living in separate male and female quarters the indians
suffered. During the gold rush the indians suffered another
dark time when miners having quit the search for gold
settled down to
indian land by either killing the inhabitants or running
them off their land.
the only large indian owned land is the 1200 acres of
Esselen land privately owned since the Mission era.