Kaaknu the Volvon tribal chieftan was a real person. Recorded history shows that he attained prominent stature during his lifetime, which started in 1770 in a benign 10,000 year-old Native American cultural environment around Mount Diablo, east of the San Francisco Bay. In thirty-five short years he saw the complete dissolution of his tribe and the total loss of all of their ancestral territory to Spanish soldiers and settlers and the Jesuit Missions. He died in 1826 at Mission San Jose. Very little is known about him.
Here I have imagined a life story, built around known historical events and my own familiarity with the land Kaaknu was raised on and lived for the first 35 years of his life.
The Volvon tribal territory remains virtually untouched today. Many village and camp sites lie undisturbed in the Black Hills behind Mount Diablo, part of the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. One can still walk the paths he walked, and see the same panoramic views of central California that he saw.
In November of 1969, hundreds of Native Americans swarmed over Alcatraz Island and occupied it for the next eighteen months. This action marked the visible beginning of a resurgence of interest in what had mistakenly been thought of as a lost culture.
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