The bulk of the archeological materials in the collection are the result of excavations of known Coast Miwok sites within the park boundary during the late 1950s-1970s. For millennia the Coast Miwok people were the only inhabitants of what is now known as Marin and Southern Sonoma County in California. The tribe, federally recognized in 2000, makes up part of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria which also includes the Southern Pomo people.
The materials are primarily lithics, debitage, worked obsidian, bone, shell, beads, as well as midden and faunal remains. The collection also includes rare 16th century European and Chinese manufactured materials excavated from Point Reyes archeology sites. They provide evidence of the first encounters on the West Coast of Northern California between indigenous people and Europeans and have been of interest to scholars worldwide. A large collection of blue and white Ming Dynasty porcelain sherds, iron and glass shards were recovered and in particular, some of the porcelain pieces were repurposed into adornments and tools.
The source of these European materials are the two recorded encounters which took place with the Coast Miwok in Point Reyes in the 16th century. In June of 1579, English explorer Sir Francis Drake and his crew encamped on Marin shores for six weeks while repairing the Golden Hind. Sixteen years later, in 1595, Captain Rodrigo Cermeno and crew were on shore when their Spanish Manila Galleon, San Agustin, loaded with cargo from Asia shipwrecked in Drakes Bay.
Associated records, studies and reports pertaining to prehistoric or historic archeology sites may also be available in the park archives. Site records are restricted.
Archeological materials recovered within the park boundaries are National Park Service property and must be retained in the park's museum collection in accordance with 43 CFR 7.13 and National Park Service Management Policies.