First Peoples

Watercolor by Louis Choris of two Ohlone men living near Mission Dolores
Watercolor by Louis Choris of two Ohlone men living near Mission Dolores

Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) recognizes Native American contributions to the park, including their long heritage, tranditional environmental knowledge, and historic events related to the American Indian fight for social justice that have occurred on park lands.

Indigenous people have called the San Francisco Bay region home for over 10,000 years. For millennia tribes followed seasonal rounds of hunting, fishing, harvesting plants while sustainably managing the lands that are now in Golden GGNRA. The San Francisco Peninsula and areas along the east side of San Francisco Bay and south to Monterey lie in the aboriginal lands of the Ohlone (also called Costanoans). Coastal lands north of the Golden Gate in Marin County and Southern Sonoma County are the aboriginal lands of the Coast Miwok.

In 1769, Spanish leaders sent Captain Juan Gaspar de Portolá to lead an expedition to stake claim to southern and central California. The expedition members were hungry, lost, and sick after six months journey. They were assisted by Native peoples along the way. About 2,000 Ramaytush Ohlone people inhabited the San Francisco Peninsula in 1769, living in a network of ten independent tribes. The Aramai tribe, of modern-day Pacifica, accompanied the explorers to the top of Sweeney Ridge, now part of GGNRA, where the Portolá party became the first Europeans to see San Francisco Bay.

In 1969, a group of Indigenous activists called the Indians of All Tribes arrived on Alcatraz Island. They spoke out against the U.S. Government's Termination Policy and the broader plight of Native Americans. Golden Gate National Recreation Area commemorates this moment in history, with the exhibition: Red Power on Alcatraz, Perspectives 50 Years Later.

Ohlone and Coast Miwok

Ohlones and Coast Miwoks

Native Americans have called the San Francisco Bay region home for over 10,000 years. Park areas south of the Golden Gate, from the San Francisco Peninsula, to the East Bay and south to Monterey, are the aboriginal lands of the Ohlones (also called Costanoans).


Coast Miwok at Muir Woods

Coast Miwok inhabited the general area of modern Marin County and southern Sonoma County, from the Golden Gate north to Duncans Point and eastward to Sonoma Creek are the aboriginal lands of the Coast Miwok (Coast Miwok included the Huimen Miwok, from authenticated Miwok villages around Muir Beach, the Marin Miwok and the Bodega Bay Miwok).


Hopi Prisoners on the Rock

Historian Wendy Holliday, formerly of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, traces the government’s Indian policy and the effect it had on the people of Hopi in the late 19th century, culminating with the imprisonment of 19 Hopi men by the U.S. Army. In September 1895, these men finally returned home after spending nearly a year on Alcatraz Island.

Dr. LaNada WarJack

LaNada War Jack

LaNada War Jack is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes and a central figure in the twentieth- and twenty-first century Native American activist movements. Between 1969 and 1971, she helped to organize a nineteen-month Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island.


Additional Resources



Last updated: March 23, 2023

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