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Preserving History: The Alliance for Felix Cove at Tomales Bay

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Imagine an abandoned cabin sits at the edge of Tomales Bay. Graffiti decorates its walls and a heart made of seashells on the porch. Untold stories from generations fill this tiny space. Standing next to it, the ocean breeze hits you and you’re transported back in time. This is an ancestral home of Theresa Harlan. She is a descendant of the last family to live freely on Coast Miwok/Támal-ko lands. They were evicted in the 1950’s. Harlan recently established the Alliance for Felix Cove.

Complete with a view of the ocean, this small cabin site is administered by the Point Reyes National Seashore. The Alliance wishes to protect, restore and rematriate the ancestral homelands of the Coast Miwok/Támal-ko people. Native Non-Profit Day is on May 19th here are a few things you should know.

David Carrio sings blessings to aid the process of launching a canoe at Felix Cove. Photographed with his permission.

Native Non-Profit Day is on May 19th here are a few things you should know: 

Before the geological formation of San Francisco, the Coast Miwok/Támal-ko called Tomales Bay home. That’s over 10,000 years. This history was very nearly erased during the last 150 years. Colonial powers forcibly removed the last Coast Miwok/Támal-ko from their homes and blocked them from returning. The federal government refused to recognize the Coast Miwok by 1958, along with many other tribes. As a result of this cultural genocide, the culture was very nearly lost.

Redbird Edward Willie, an ancestral skills teacher, inspects the ties on a part of a Tule Canoe.

The Alliance for Felix Cove is committed to restoring the cabin and reclaiming access to the land it sits on for all Coast Miwok/Támal-ko descendants. Community gatherings such as the crafting of a Tule Canoe serve as a way of connecting.

Allies creating cordage to bind the canoe. This was traditionally made with Dogbane, a fibrous plant that grows in California.

A Tule canoe launched last November from Felix Cove for the first time in generations. Building their ancestral watercraft was a step towards rematriating Tomales Bay.

The Alliance wants the Felix family’s story to be shared widely and told accurately. Támal-ko descendants and allies need a safe space to connect with a language, culture and traditions nearly lost to colonialism. Restoring this connection is key to renewal and healing for the future. The movement to return Indigenous lands to Indigenous hands (also known as Land Back) is gaining popularity in Northern California.

Spring flowers wreath the cabin at Felix Cove.

In Point Reyes, signs pepper the roadside announcing the “historic ranches”.  Cows graze near Tule elk in front of stunning views of the coast. At the Bear Valley Visitor Center you can take a small hike and see Kule Loklo (meaning Bear Valley) a replica of a Coast Miwok Village. There is no mention of the cabin a few miles away that was home to generations of people who loved and cared for the land that sustained them.

How to learn more about Alliance for Felix Cove:

Native Non-Profit Day is on May 19th. Please consider donating to Alliance for Felix Cove.

To learn more about the Alliance for Felix Cove:

Instagram: @alliance4felixcove

Theresa Harlan speaks at Felix Cove. Her family lived sustainably on this land for generations.


All photos are by Vita Hewitt

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Vita Hewitt

Vita Hewitt

Vita is a half Chinese-Malaysian, photograph taking, plant foraging, vegetable garden growing, astronaut impersonating, conceptual art creating Bay Area human. She loves exploring the intricacies of the Bay Area Art Scene.