Mount Umunhum (pronounced “Um-un-um”) invokes the sound of humming and means hummingbird. It combines the root words for hummingbird in five Ohlone languages. Valentin Lopez, Chair of the Amah-Mutsun Ohlone tribal band tells the original creation story of Ohlone peoples, “How Hummingbird Got Fire.” https://ww2.kqed.org/quest/2011/07/19/web-extra-how-hummingbird-got-fire/ For some 10,000 years Ohlone and other tribes tended the region that surrounded this 3,486′ peak. The lands stolen by Europeans and later by miners, were eventually sold to the US Government for defense work. The USG utilized it until closing it in 1980.
In the past, native tribes had managed the area in ways that harmonized with the land — pruning plants for regrowth, fishing only what was needed for year-round survival, and utilizing flora and fauna sustainably for food, tools, jewelry, containers, clothing and more. Village homes were built with tule reeds, which grew much more plentifully at that time in thriving wetlands. Flexible willow branches constituted the frames of their homes, called ruwehs. Ruwehs looked nothing like teepees. They were rounded with low entranceways to keep the warmth inside that the fire generated.
After the government cleaned up the site around Mt. Umunhum, it reopened it in 2017 to Indian tribal bands and the public. The circle built of rocks at the summit is used by Ohlone peoples today for sacred ceremony. They have invited anyone to enjoy this special place. According to Lopez, their worldview de-emphasizes materialism. “Traditionally, the Amah Mutsun believe that true wealth is the ability to carry indigenous knowledge forward to provide for all people, animals, plants, Mother Earth, wind, water, and shadows.” Sadly, such wise words seem particularly hard for many of us Westerners to digest. Perhaps taking the 3.7 mile trail to the mountaintop through stands of madrone, bays and oaks will help change our hearts and minds.