Some good people are making an effort to recognize the first people to call Pacifica home and it’s a small thing that deserves mention here.

The Pacifica Open Space and Parklands Advisory Committee is looking to rename a portion of the Ohlone/Portola Heritage Trail and in doing so recognize the Ramaytush Ohlone who were native when Europeans “discovered” the San Francisco Bay Area. It may seem like a small thing — and it is — but it’s important in an area where so much is named for Spanish conquerors like Gaspar de Portola and Junipero Serra.

There were about 1,500 people known to inhabit what is now the San Francisco Peninsula when Spaniards arrived. There are four branches of the Ramaytush people living today. Ramaytush, by the way, is a Chochenyo word meaning, “people of the west,” which is fitting for a people living on the coast of the continent.

The trail itself is a group effort. It includes San Mateo County Parks, the National Park Service, San Mateo County Historical Association, California State Parks and tribal leaders, and envisions a 90-mile trail that will include portions of the Coastal Trail and educational markers and opportunities along the way. The winding trail is still a work in progress, but will run from Año Nuevo State Park in the south, through the Coastside and up to Sweeney Ridge and down toward a historic marker in Menlo Park.

The Pacifica Open Space and Parklands Advisory Committee has been asked to help with a section near Cattle Hill and has launched a survey for those willing to suggest a name. (You can read all about it on Page 3 of today’s newspaper.)

After colonization, displacement and subsequent generations of American indifference to the plight of native peoples, we have come to a better moment in which most of us lucky enough to live here recognize the importance of truly native people. It’s a better moment, but far from perfect. Native peoples continue to suffer from indignities of the past in myriad ways. Small things, such as this trail, can make a big impact on the people who use public facilities and on the government as a whole.

If it hasn’t already, this recognition of the original San Mateo County residents needs to become a regular feature of any open space planning and other development on the coast.

— Clay Lambert

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