Mills College

California Historical landmark atop Ohlone land.

Mills College is a private, liberal arts college in Oakland, originally a Seminary school for young women in Benicia, CA. Mills was founded in 1852 but moved from Benicia to the site of an Ohlone Village in Oakland in 1871, becoming the first women's college west of the Rockies. Known for historic Mills Hall and the architecture of Julia Morgan, the history of Mills forgets to mention the rich Native American culture and heritage ingrained on the land it sits on. The history that Mills College overshadows is one of the Ohlone Tribe, a peaceful, hunting, fishing and gathering tribe with a variety of dialects contributing to their uniqueness. Northern California was heavily populated with Ohlone people until Spanish missions between 1769 and 1833 had a negative effect on the Ohlone population and then again greatly affected by the Gold Rush.
With efforts from members of the Ethnic Studies department and Native American students and their allies at Mills College, the history of the Ohlone people is slowly but surely reemerging. The Indigenous Women's Alliance at Mills College acknowledges that Mills is on an Ohlone Village and thanks members of the Ohlone tribe and their ancestors for the usage of the land and acknowledges, now Holmgren Meadow, as Toyon meadow, it's original name which gave recognition to the Toyon plant used in healing ceremonies by the Ohlone people.

Cite this Page:

Ashlyn Warny, “Mills College,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed September 23, 2018,

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