Muwekma Recognition

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is expected to decide by early August whether to formally recognize the East Bay’s Muwekma Ohlone tribe — 96 years after the federal government granted the status to their ancestors.
“In 1927, the BIA illegally recommended denying land to about 135 federally recognized tribes and bands in California, including the Muwekma,” said Alan Leventhal, the tribe’s ethnohistorian. “That was the last point many were recognized by the government.”
In more than a decade of petitioning, the Muwekma have presented several thousand pages of documentation that they are the direct descendants of the Verona Band of Alameda County, federally recognized in 1906, he said.
The ruling, due August 8, would also set a precedent for expediting similar petitions by 30 bands and tribes in California, including two other Ohlone bands, said Leventhal. In June 2000, a federal district court ordered the BIA to expedite the Muwekma’s case. Tribes often wait decades for such decisions.
Ohlone, or Costanoan, territory covers the East Bay and San Francisco to Big Sur, and inland to Stockton. The Muwekma trace their families through the missions Dolores, Santa Clara, and San Jose.
With a positive ruling, said tribe chairwoman Rosemary Cambra, “the tribe could establish its own programs for health, education and housing for its people.”

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