March 5th, 2016

Making Tule Rope The Ohlone Way

Making Tule Rope The Ohlone Way

On Sunday D. and I went to a workshop at the National Wildlife Refuge in Alviso to learn how the Ohlone Indians utilized the abundant tule rushes (a type of giant sedge that grows around the shores of San Francisco Bay) to make rope the way they did when they lived in this area for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

It was a surprisingly easy technique, but even though the tules were softened in water, it hurt my hands after just a few minutes of twisting the fibers together.  Even so, I was able to finish a 10" piece that I looped into a bracelet.

After the workshop was over D. and I took a short walk on the Mallard Slough trail.  Here's the pics I took.

A table at the wildlife refuge displays examples of how the Ohlone used tules to make a wide variety of objects (rope, mats, baskets, dolls and other playthings, etc.; they also used full-length tules to make larger items such as huts and canoes).

Tules soak in order to soften them and make them pliable prior to use.  (The Ohlone did not use plastic Rubbermaid tubs for that, though.)

Examples of the rope D. and I made.

Here's the bracelet I made from mine.

Outside we see oak trees in bloom.

Lemonade berry bushes are ready to pop into flower.

The salt marsh.

A rare sighting of a Scooterus flavus on the trail.

A snowy egret looks for things to eat in the marsh.

Coyote Creek Slough.

Drowned branches.

Hummingbird sage blossoms and bud.

Purple flowers.

A carpenter bee visits bee sage.

Crabapple blossoms bob in the breeze.