Ann Marie Sayers, Tribal Chair of Indian Canyon in Hollister, California, is also an Ohlone Indian storyteller. She lives in Indian Canyon. At its entrance is the site of the traditional village where her ancestors thrived some 4,500 years ago, long before the arrival of Spanish missionaries, long before homesteaders of European descent pressed West for land to claim as their own, and long before California, as a new state within the U.S., sought to rid Coastal California of its Indian population. “We are still here,” she says. Existence, survival, recognition, the earth as mother, honoring ancestors, tribal language and culture. These are among the intense subjects that braid through Ann Marie Sayers’s daily life.
Indian Canyon is the only federally recognized “Indian Country” for 300 miles along coastal California. It is still inhibited by the descendants of the original people. This canyon served as a safe haven for many of the native peoples who did not like the restrictions at Mission San Juan Bautista. And today, as well, it serves as a safe haven for all indigenous people in need of traditional land for ceremony. What makes this canyon unique are the ancestral spirits that are here. You can feel all the life that surrounds you and the water that flows down the waterfall and through the canyon. It is the ceremonies that take place that attract California Condors, positive energy, and all life is vibrant and sacred.