THE LEGEND OF SANTA TERESA


For centuries the Ohlone met in the hills west of what is now South San Jose every fall. This was a time when all the clans would come together. The babies would be named, the marriages would be formalized, the deaths mourned, and the tribal issues resolved. It was a time when all who gathered would renew friendships, swap stories, trade, and share good food. The tribal elders and chiefs would hold council. Feasting, music, and dancing could be heard all over the valley.

One particular fall the chiefs, medicine men, and tribal elders were particularly concerned about a mysterious illness that was killing the people painfully in epedemic proportions.

As the feasting continued, the chiefs wandered away for their annual meeting. The sun shone warmly in the hills that afternoon as the great chiefs pondered the illness that was taking their people in great numbers. While they met, a breeze blew up out the northwest, and great storm clouds gathered above. The sky began to rumble, and lightning flashed around them. Suddenly a beautiful woman dressed in black robes floated to earth out of the storm clouds. She calmly spoke to the great men explaining to each of them that the great chief should pick up his bow and pick a fine, straight arrow from his quiver. He should then place the arrow into the bow and shoot it high into the sky. Where the arrow would fall, the chiefs would find the solution to their problem.

The great chief picked up his bow and selected the straightest arrow with the sharpest arrowhead. He carefully placed the arrow into his bow. Slowly he stretched back the sinew of his bow, aiming high into the clouds. Letting go, he watched the arrow soar high into the the gathering storm. As all the chiefs watched the arrow glided to a landing on a larger boulder on the hillside.

The boulder shattered in half, and out of its based flowed a bubbling fresh-water spring. The chiefs gathered the water in their cupped palms and drank heartily. They, then, gathered their people and shared the water with everyone. Slow the illness subsided, and the Ohlone once again became healthy.

Could this be the arrowhead that found Santa Teresa Spring?

The Ohlone ground acorns into meal in grindstones like this one. The grindstones were passed down from mother to daughter. The deeper the grindstone, the more generations of Ohlone women that used it. A good deep grindstone can be found in the Edenvale Elementary School Museum at 285 Azucar Ave. San Jose, CA

Essselen Ohlone Indian page

Costonoan Home Page


When Joaquin heard the Legend of the Black Robed Lady, he decided that the black robed woman must have been Santa Teresa, the Patron Saint of Healing. Consequently he named his rancho: Rancho Santa Teresa.