The sun is just beginning to rise over the glassy water at San Francisco’s aquatic park. Karen Wapato is beaming as she emerges from the Bay and peels off her goggles.
“It was better than yesterday,” she says. “I keep on just telling myself, stay calm don’t panic, keep breathing, try to keep my stroke real smooth as smooth as I can,” she says as she catches her breath.
Wapato has never swum in the ocean before, and it’s her second day swimming in the San Francisco Bay.
Some of the first people in the Bay Area were Native Americans – members of the Ohlone tribe, who settled around what is now the city of Richmond. Beginning in the 1920s, another group of Native people found their way to the Bay Area. They were migrants from the Acoma and Laguna tribes of the Southwest. When they arrived, they took up an unusual living arrangement: in boxcars, parked on the dead ends of the city’s railroad tracks.