History: The Ohlone People


Condensed History of Fremont

This condensed history was compiled by Phil Holmes

The modern city of Fremont has been built on beautiful land with a long, interesting history. This rich, historical heritage fits readily into time periods that had their own specific influences on the history of Fremont.

The Ohlone People

Ancestors of the Ohlone people wandered into this land of great abundance several thousand years ago. They lived a simple life in harmony with nature and the land. They followed the cycles of the seasons as they hunted, fished, and gathered their food. They burned certain areas to encourage the growth of favored plants and improve grazing areas for animals that they hunted.
The Ohlones gathered a variety of plants, seeds, berries, roots, and nuts for food. They ground and leached acorns and made mush or bread. They caught rabbits, squirrels, birds, fish, and other small animals and gathered shellfish from the bay. Hunters stalked larger animals such as deer and antelope.


Ohlone Indian Ceremonial Dance at Mission San Jose in 1806

Ohlone Indian Ceremonial Dance at Mission San Jose in 1806.



Permanent villages were located on higher ground near marshes, streams, or springs where drinking water was available. They built domed huts with a frame of poles thatched with grass or tules. They crafted baskets, clothes, decorations, tools, nets, beads, and weapons. They navigated the bay in remarkable reed boats and traded materials or products with other tribes.
Religion and ceremony were important in daily life activities, and special rituals were observed at important events such as birth, puberty, and death. The Ohlones maintained their culture by passing on stories, songs, dances, and tribal laws from parents to children. The Ohlone way of life minimized warfare and ensured the health of the land. Life was ordered and in tune with nature and the will of the creator.

Next Chapter: Mission San Jose 1797 - 1836

Ohlone Mission Era Rancho Era Pioneer Era Town Era Post War

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