The Coast Miwok people inhabited lands from the Golden Gate through Marin County to Southern Sonoma County for centuries. They lived by hunting and gathering. In Spring they would revisit seasonal villages within the Point Reyes Peninsula for birds, deer, elk shellfish and in the Olema Valley, salmon and steelhead. Frequently upon leaving for the season, they would ritually burn the countryside to create favorable conditions for new growth of grasses favorable to game animals. These were the people who greeted Francis Drake in 1579 and Sebastian Rodrigues Cermeῆo in 1595 whose Manila galleon, the San Agustin was wrecked in Drakes Bay by a November storm. Two hundred years later, the Miwok way of life was shattered by the northern expansion of the Spanish mission system. By persuasion and coercion, the Miwok were brought to the missions and by 1820 their villages in the peninsula were abandoned. Many Coast Miwok sites within the park are inaccessible to villagers due to the continuance of Ranching at the Seashore. Today, descendants the Coast Miwok are a federally recognized tribe under the Federated Indians of Graton Ranchería.
Written by Bruce Keegan