The land the Esalen Institute campus resides on was a place of healing and renewal for the Esselen Tribe long before the Institute’s founding in 1962. Reportedly, for more than 6000 years, the Esselen Tribe has continuously inhabited this land as well as territory stretching from the Santa Lucia Mountains to the Big Sur coast, and from Carmel Mission South, 40 miles to Pacific Valley. The tribe would send people to these lands to heal. It was like sending someone to the hospital. The people would go through ceremony and cleanse themselves in the hot springs waters. Those who were healed would leave, and those who could not heal were buried on the land. This is still the place they call home.
The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County is first and foremost a Tribal Group working toward continuing cultural traditions and preserving the cultural heritage of the historic tribes that are located within Monterey County. The ETMC is also registered as a nonprofit organization, founded with preservation of cultural traditions and heritage as a main goal, as well as protecting and preserving the recognized and unrecognized sacred lands and archeological sites.
For further educational materials, please refer to the ETMC website and these resources.
To learn more about the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, please visit their website.
For further educational materials about the history of the land, its residents — human and non-human, and Esselen culture, please refer to these resources.