The Rheem Creek project partners acknowledge that all restoration work in the Rheem Creek watershed takes place on occupied Indigenous territory of Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people, who have continuously lived upon this land since time immemorial. We also acknowledge Indigenous people from other geographic areas who have been displaced from their traditional homelands because of past or present day colonial systems of oppression, including federal relocation policies, who have joined and/or assimilated with the Ohlone people on their traditional homelands. Today, there are several active community groups that have Indigenous ancestry to this territory, which include: Confederated Villages of Lisjan, Him•re-n of Ohlone, Bay Miwok, and Plains Miwok and Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. These communities work tirelessly to cultivate culture, rebuild language and heal connections with natural and cultural resources. The Rheem Creek partners are committed to actively educating ourselves about the history of these people and these lands, and we encourage everyone in the community to join us in continuing to learn.
The work to restore the function of Rheem Creek is largely based on the needs of the community, who are impacted by creek flooding every year. This is the current-day context of Rheem Creek, but going back in time, the context shifts: Before 1899, there was no creek and 100 years before that there was no urbanization. What was once just a floodplain, full of habitat and people rejoicing in the water, is now something completely different. The work to restore the creek is to pull some resemblance from the past, to celebrate water and biodiversity and acknowledge that water is not to blame for the destruction of homes, but rather colonization and urbanization are. In California especially, rainwater must be honored and kept clean so it can bring life. We hope a restored creek will do just that. We owe much gratitude for perspective and relationship to nature to the past and present original stewards of this area.
This storybook is one step toward remembering, honoring and acknowledging the history and contemporary context of Rheem Creek and the people we know today as the Ohlone Community. Ohlone peoples are depicted in both a historical and present-day context in this storybook to emphasize that Indigenous people are still here and part of the community, that Indigenous people don’t only wear regalia and/or other traditional clothing, and to challenge countless other misconceptions in our society. Beyond this territory acknowledgment and storybook, we pledge to work toward dismantling colonialism through highlighting the presence and perspective of present-day Ohlone community members in our outreach and education, honoring Indigenous wisdom in our restoration strategy, and speaking the original name of this place in the Chochenyo language: Huchiun.
Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about acorns, water, land stewardship, and more from Ruth Orta (respected elder, Him•re-n of Ohlone, Bay Miwok, and Plains Miwok).