Spot some Petroglyphs at Chitactac Adams Heritage Park

Next week is Thanksgiving, a tradition widely believed to have started in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, when colonists and peoples from the Wampanoag tribe shared a week of harvest celebration. 

Exhibit shelter in the Chitactac Adams Heritage Park.

Tommy Orange, in his book There There, depicts the origin of Thanksgiving being a celebration of a ‘successful massacre’; this is rebutted by Snopes. Not the fact that there was a massacre in 1637 killing 500 people, but that this was the origin of the Thanksgiving tradition. Snopes argues that Sarah Josepha Buell Hale petitioned for this holiday and in 1863 it was written into law by President Lincoln. Hale used the narrative of a meal being shared by Natives and Pilgrims to promote the united vision of the state.

This is about as much as I will participate in a history lesson. Fact is November is National Native American Heritage Month. A good reason to search out sacred sites and learn about Indigenous Peoples in the Bay Area.

Large petroglyph with a circular pattern.

The Chitactac Adams Heritage Park in Gilroy offers information on the life and culture of the Ohlone. In an exhibit shelter there are multiple boards teaching us about the diversity of the Native Peoples in the Bay Area, language examples of the Mutsun and Rumsien, and their use of herbs as medicine. 

Bedrock mortars, round holes in the rock.

The real attraction, however, are the petroglyphs, or rock art. In the middle of the shelter a large rock shows circles ground into the rock. Due to many instances of vandalism it was moved multiple times. There are two more rocks as examples at the shelter, but you are encouraged to spot them outside on the boulders. Please don’t climb on the boulders, the petroglyphs are thousands of years old. 

The 0.2 mile hike of the park has interpretative signs about the lives of the native peoples in this area. The rock art on this hike was hard to see, but the holes in the boulders used for grinding up foods, so called bedrock mortars, are impressive.

Sign of Ranchos and Growth, in the background kids playing and vandalism.

Another striking feature of different rock art was vandalism. The disrespectful disfigurement was near a boulder formation with information about Ranchos and Growth.  

The Chitactac Adams Heritage Park is open year round from 8 am to sunset. 

Note the hike is only partial wheelchair and stroller accessible. 

Another sacred site I wrote about is Mount Umunhum

Other Resources:

https://time.com/4577082/thanksgiving-holiday-history-origins/

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/11/25/native-americans-thanksgiving-mourning

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