Frequently Asked Questions


There are two web sites that claim to be the “official” website of the Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation. Which one is really official?

The best answer is this – Correction: There were two official web sites – and Even though there were two websites, both represented the same tribe at different points in time. Neither one officially represents the tribe right now. was the first tribal website built to represent the tribe known as Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation. Ann Cominos (spouse of a tribal member, and former tribal administrator) owns the domain name and is the caretaker of that web site. Since the election of 2004, all requests to update that website have been ignored. Because that web site is not tribally owned, there is nothing anyone can do about it.


So, the tribal administration, elected in 2005, initiated the process to develop a new tribal web site but had not done so until June, 2006. To get things going, I (Lorraine Escobar) volunteered to purchase the space with my personal funds. (It was $29.95 a month if anyone wants to know.)  It was at that point that was born. Not having much expertise to design a new web page, Susan Morley (also former tribal administrator), Cari Herthel (former tribal chair), and I formed this new web site with the intentions to include everything but the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, before this project could be completed, the tribal council practically disintegrated and the project was abandoned until December 2006.


Now, because of the flux the tribal council is currently in, this web site (the one you are in now) is no longer “sanctioned” by the current tribal council (whomever they may be). Yet, I am still paying for this web space, the tribe is still basically in the dark about the recent events, and this web site can still serve as a resource. Although this web site may be “unofficial,” it will strive to be as informative as possible within all means at my disposal. Another “official” tribal web site may pop up in the near future but there are no immediate plans to withdraw as a valid resource.


Why do your people always have some kind of battle going on?

Apparently, it’s been this way since the beginning of time – not just for us but for many tribes. We’re definitely not alone. Some tribes are split not just once but twice over and are still unable to get back together. We, here at OCEN, are still one tribe. A split probably would have been a good idea, in hindsight, but the recent lawsuit and mediation agreement pretty much averted a split. We agreed to another election, which we had in September 2005, but apparently that election didn’t fix what was wrong.


Why can’t your tribal council just get along with each other?

That’s a really good question. And the answers may vary with whom you ask this question to. I know this much – it is not enough to just tell people to “behave,” “grow-up,” and “get along.” (I’ve seen lots of those kinds of responses to the situation.) People have to accept that they are behaving badly in the first place before they can make a change. So far, everyone thinks they are right and nobody thinks they are doing anything wrong (or considering the possibility there might be room for self-improvement). There are those of us who are still looking for answers. Some of us think accountability just might change the behavior of some of our leaders which is why we are asking for a General Council meeting. (See Petition section in table of contents page.) But, overall, my opinion is that this little pond is just too small for those who have to be a big fish.


Are you planning to add a Message Board to your web site?

It’s important that tribal members dialogue with each other. I’d like to add a message board as soon as possible but I need help in getting it done. As I’ve said before, I don’t have the technological expertise; so it is all going to take time (unless I get help).


Are you the only person who is having input on this web site?

Ownership has its privileges but this web site is not about me or only about what I think needs to be done. I intend to get feedback from other tribal members to develop this web site. Feel free to make suggestions. All will be considered but others will have something to say about it – not just me.


Are you trying to take over the OCEN tribe?

Actually, nobody has asked this question but I am sure some would love to ask it. The answer is, “NO! I’m just trying to keep the tribe from falling off the map (radar, public eye, etc.) as a living entity – not something that only exists in the past (even recent past).


Aren’t there other organized tribes made up of descendants from the Monterey Bay Area?

Yes, most definitely. But are any federally recognized? No.


  1. Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, chaired by my second-cousin, Tom Nason, but his tribe withdrew the letter of intent to petition for federal recognition.


  1. Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe of Chino, California, chaired by Tony Cerda (formely by Anthony Miranda). I did some of their genealogy and while they are descended from the same area that the OCEN tribal members are, their families appeared to have left the Monterey Bay area prior to 1880. Therefore, those descendants would not descend from the previously federally recognized group at Mission San Carlos in 1883, the Sur Rancheria in 1905, or the Monterey Band in 1923.


Are all Costanoan Indians considered Ohlone, too?

Absolutely not. Rather than discuss that question here, the answer can be found at my website at with the paper, “Understanding the Composition of Costanoan People.” Even our OCEN tribal members are not Ohlone; they are Esselen and/or Rumsien, two smaller subsets of the Costanoan territory. But, because of this misnomer and mistake, we have been using that term Ohlone because people are familiar with it but it is only recent association. In fact, there’s a publication on this topic which will be added to this web site (as soon as I can find it in electronic form) that talks about our origins and how we identify ourselves (written by Dr. Les Field and Lorraine Escobar, CLS/NAL).



If there is a question you would like answered on this forum, please feel free to send it along to me at If the question is civil, I’ll post the question and the answer.