Culture

Cafe Ohlone Gives Diners A Taste Of California’s Oldest Most Traditional Foods

Long before Europeans colonized and occupied what is today modern California, there was a land full of communities.

These communities stretched from the deserts of the south, along the coasts and beaches of present-day Los Angeles, all the way through the Central Valley and into the mountains.

Indigenous communities not only had their own unique identities, culture, and language – they also had their own foods. And one California restaurant is working to show the world this original California cuisine.

In Berkeley, Cafe Ohlone is serving only Indigenous foods common to the area.

Credit: makamham / Instagram

Cafe Ohlone is named for the Ohlone tribe indigenous to Northern California’s East Bay. It’s a small backyard restaurant serving up big flavors with even bigger dreams. The cafe’s founders, Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, have dedicated themselves to reviving the foods of the Ohlone tribe.

They’ve created a menu deeply rooted in Ohlone tradition.

Credit: visitberkeley / Instagram

Salmon, venison, acorns, amaranth, chia, yerba buena, blackberries. These are the ingredients of a culture nearly forgotten and one that Medina and Trevino are trying to revive.

This is California Cuisine long before the introduction of Spanish, British, Russian, and American influences.

Credit: makamham / Instagram

The menu at Cafe Ohlone changes with the season, depending on what’s available. The duo often gathers ingredients in the East Bay hills and Carmel Valley. Though Medina said they often have to forage early in the morning or late at night.

He told BerkeleySide.com: “it’s not always comfortable, especially as a brown person, with people looking at you as a criminal for gathering your own food.”

For Medina, the push to popularize the foods of the Ohlone is a personal mission.

Credit: baynaturemagazine / Instagram

He is a member of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and grew up on the very land his ancestors have always lived on. Even though he has deep roots in the East Bay, he wondered by he never saw his culture represented. Medina grew up eating foods like mole, tortillas, and chiles – foods that were imposed on his ancestors by the Spanish.

In an interview with BerkeleySide.com, Medina said: “It can be very isolating when you’re Ohlone, you don’t see tangible evidence about your culture anywhere even though you’re right in your home.”

Together they launched a guerilla food pop-up called Mak-’amham – or “Our Food” in the Chochenyo language.

Credit: carolineseckinger / Instagram

Most of the ingredients have been gathered in traditional ways on their native lands. Mak-’amham holds pop-up events and offers catering services to fund monthly events where they cook for the Ohlone community

The duo is showing respect for their culture and people are here for it.

Credit: @atlasobscura / Twitter

Many across the Internet couldn’t believe how little opportunity there is to try traditional Californian foods – the foods of Indigenous California tribes.

“Food is such a good way to have intercultural dialogue,” Medina told BerkeleySide.com. He added: “It’s hard to disrespect a culture when you sit down and eat their food, especially when you enjoy it and you’re around the people, when you’re having a positive experience.”

“A major misconception is we’re extinct. Our community is doing quite well today. The truth is, we also come from powerful and strong people who survived this difficulty that still exists today.”

Some on Twitter pointed out they themselves group on Native lands but never got to try the foods.

Credit: @ryneches / Twitter

And now with the opening of Cafe Ohlone, they’ll finally be able to taste the foods of California’s original inhabitants.

The Internet is sending a huge thanks to these two leaders bringing forth the flavors and traditions of a nearly forgotten culture.

From El Centro to LA and Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, it’s about time Californians of all backgrounds get to know the history and the flavors of California’s original identity.

READ: Nature Chola Is Making Space For Indigenous People In The Great Outdoors

Appreciate, Don’t Appropriate: We Made A List Of Dos And Don’ts For You To Celebrate Native American Heritage Month Respectfully

Culture

Appreciate, Don’t Appropriate: We Made A List Of Dos And Don’ts For You To Celebrate Native American Heritage Month Respectfully

November is Native American Heritage month. And like most commemorative months dedicated to honoring the culture and history of an oppressed people in the U.S., Native American Heritage Month is an insufficient gesture. Added onto that, November is often a a time when stereotypes of Native people get reinforced. A month of supposed ‘appreciation’ and ‘honoring’ of oppressed communities, can easily turn into one replete with cultural appropriation and prejudice.

So we decided we’d round up a few things that you can do —and not do— to celebrate in a positive and healthy spirit. 

1. Don’t desecrate traditional, sacred Native objects by buying or wearing them as props.

More often than not, we find ‘Native’, ‘Tribal’, or ‘Navajo’ inspired goods in stores, what you might not know is that they could be sacred Native artifacts and spiritual items. Objects like the canupa pipe or a warbonnet —commonly known as ‘headdress’— are part of Native spiritual culture and they should never be worn as a costume.

For Native people, practicing their spirituality was illegal in this country, up until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978. Before then, Native people were beaten, jailed, and even killed for practicing their ancestral beliefs. What remains of tribal cultures customs, and ceremonies has been paid for in blood.

Among Native people, the warbonnet was only given to those who earned each and every eagle feather for their bravery, self-sacrifice, and great deeds of valor —doesn’t seem very appropriate to wear one as a costume or prop now, does it? Disrespecting the warbonnet is a terrible wrong and dishonors the likes of all who earned them with pride.

2. Don’t make children wear redface and reenact the re-telling of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving reenactments are a whitewashed version of early U.S. history. The retelling of this story only glorifies colonization when we all know that the truth isn’t so pretty. In actuality, an official “day of Thanksgiving kept in all the churches for our victories against the Pequots” was said to have been proclaimed by Massachusetts Bay governor William Bradford in 1637, celebrating the slaughter of up to 700 Pequot men, women, and children.

3. Don’t promote the fetishization of Native women.

We should all know this by now, but since not everyone acts like it, we’ll say it louder for the people in the back —Do not dehumanize women of color. We’re not your fetish and will not be devalued any longer. Reducing Native women to a fetish is oppressive and objectifying. It subjugates Native women while denying their agency.

Native women face higher rates of violence than the general population. A report last year by the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center found that more than half of Native women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime and 96% of those who commit sexual violence against Native women are non-Native.

4. Don’t support racist mascots.

It’s 2019 and the sports team, Washington R*dskins, literally has a racial slur in its name. It mocks Native identity, it reinforces ignorant and racist caricatures of a whole culture.

5. Don’t pretend to know better than Native people on Native subjects.

I’d like to believe that Native people know more about being Native because well…they are Native, they’ve lived the experience daily. Native people know more about their heritage than non-Natives do and silencing their voices is equal to erasing them.

What’s more, don’t bother Natives on social media by sending them the worst instances of cultural appropriation and racial violence that you may stumble upon while scrolling. Natives who are present in online spaces see it often. Even if you mean well, for Native people, constant exposure to this sort of toxic environment is damaging and exhausting.

6. For the love of God, don’t buy culturally appropriative products from Non-Native vendors.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, do not buy Native imitations at places like Urban Outfitters or other stores who have actually been on trial for stealing names, references and designs from Native people.

Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, “it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.” Violators may face civil or criminal penalties of a fine up to $250,000 or five years behind bars. Before buying goods from a purported Native vendor, ask them if they are following this law, and what tribe they belong to. It is not offensive to ask a person who claims to be Native what tribe they hail from. Tribal identification is commonplace and accepted among Natives.

7. Do teach real Native history to children and read up on works by Native scholars and authors.

Introduce real and accurate Native history —including harvest feasts—into school events. Invite Native speakers, authors and scholars to speak to students about Indigenous peoples. It’s important that children see Natives as contemporary living people who are still here.

8. Do respect Natives’ beliefs.

It’s pretty easy; respect other people’s religion and belief systems as you would your own. There are many differences among tribes, but in general, they all share a reverence for the land, for animals and plants, for the bonds of community, for the wisdom of the elderly and for the contributions of their ancestors. Their beliefs and traditions might differ from what you grew up learning, but Native perspectives are just as compelling and valuable as everyone’s, and they should be respected as such.

9. Do respect and honor Native-Veterans.

Natives have served in the U.S. military at a higher per capita rate than any other ethnic group in the 20th century, and in the military actions following September 11, 2001, Native men and women veterans served at a higher rate than veterans of all other ethnic groups, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. As we remember those who have given their lives in service to our country while protecting the freedoms and ideals we hold dear, many of our fellow Americans remain unaware of the major contributions Native Americans have made to our nation’s armed forces.

10. Do buy authentic Native goods sold by Native artisans and businesses.

Stores like Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie, are taking valuable business away from actual Native American artists and small businesses. Support Native American creativity, history, and legacy, and help create a much-needed economic boost in Indian Country by shopping from small, authentic Native businesses. This site has enlisted Native-owned businesses you can shop from online —now you have no excuse.

A California Woman Is Considering Charges Against An Apple Employee After He Sent Photo From Her Phone To Himself

Things That Matter

A California Woman Is Considering Charges Against An Apple Employee After He Sent Photo From Her Phone To Himself

Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

A Bakersfield woman is planning to press legal charges against an Apple store employee who allegedly texted himself a sexual image of the woman from her phone. Gloria Fuentes scheduled an appointment with Apple’s Genius Bar for Nov. 4. She instinctually knew to delete social media apps and bank apps from her phone, knowing her iPhone would be in the hands of a stranger paid to repair her screen. The Apple employee, who she believes is named Nic, messed around with her phone for “quite a while.” She assumed he was just doing his job. Nic tells her that Apple won’t repair the screen, and directs her to her phone provider for further help.

When Fuentes returned home, she noticed that an unknown number was listed in her most recent messages. She views the conversation and “instantly wants to cry.” A single image of a deeply personal nature was sent to the unknown number. Now, she’s pressing charges against the Apple employee.

Gloria Fuentes wants every woman to hear her story, to ensure they, and their daughters, are safe.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“”*****PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!*****,” Fuentes shared in a viral Facebook post. “So last night, I went to Apple in the Valley Plaza (Bakersfield, CA) to get my phone screen repaired and I got a tech guy named Nic, although I’m not positive of the name because the workers there were being super unhelpful.” She recalled her intuition to protect her privacy. “So before I went I kind of had this feeling to delete things from my phone. I deleted any app that had any type of financial information or linked to my bank account in any way and also all of my social media apps because I didn’t want them going through them. I also did a backup before I went and then I was going to delete all the pictures from my phone too but forgot because they were texting me that they moved my appointment time up so I was trying to rush over there.”

The employee had asked for her passcode twice, and she didn’t think anything of it. She was there to have the screen’s hardware repaired. 

Fuentes describes how the violation has impacted her sense of safety.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“I walk in my house turn on my phone about to text someone and realize there’s a message to an unsaved number!!!!! I open it and instantly wanted to cry!!!” she shared in the vulnerable Facebook post. “This guy went through my gallery and sent himself one of my EXTREMELY PERSONAL pictures that I took for my boyfriend and it had my geolocation on so he also knows where I live!!!” The employee is clearly tech-savvy, and would be aware of how geolocations work. If a man has the audacity to sexually violate a woman in this way, it’s reasonable to fear for her safety.

“AND THIS PICTURE WAS FROM ALMOST A YEAR AGO SO HE HAD TO HAVE SCROLLED UP FOR A WHILE TO GET TO THAT PICTURE being that I have over 5,000 pics in my phone!!!!” she exclaimed. “I could not express how disgusted I felt and how long I cried after I saw this!!”

Fuentes went back to the Bakersfield, California Valley Plaza Apple store to confront the man, who admitted that it was his personal number.

Credit: Apple Valley Plaza (2701 Ming Avenue, Bakersfield, CA) / Facebook

“I went back to the store and confronted him and he admits to me that this was his number but that “he doesn’t know how that pic got sent 🤬!!” she shared. There is no reason why an Apple employee’s personal number should ever be in a customer’s phone, let alone personal photos be shared without consent. “The manager just said he’d look into it,” she said. 

Later, Apple confirmed that the store “immediately launched an internal investigation” and fired the employee.

Fuentes has filed a police report with the Bakersfield Police Department, which is actively investigating grounds for criminal charges.

Credit: Bakersfield Police Department / Facebook

Fuentes makes it clear that she’s sharing her story “because iPhones are like a must-have for teens now and I could just imagine that I’m not the only person he’s done this to and what if he’s done this to someone’s teenage daughter or even any other woman at all!!” What’s worse, is that she isn’t sure how many images he sent himself, and that she has “NO CLUE WTH HES GOING TO DO WITH THEM!!!” 

The mother of three said that she’ll be “pressing legal charges against him.” “This makes me cry thinking about it but I think he needs to be held accountable and anyone else that has had him work on their phone should be aware of the fact that there’s a possibility that he’s done this to them!!”

Bakersfield women, you can call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

READ: Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent