A warm climate, plenty of water, lots of easily trapped game and a bountiful supply of fish, wild plants and acorns for food drew Indians to the Lafayette area as far back as pre-historic times.
Members of the Costanoan group, the local Indians probably had a large village in the area which they called Ahala-n, a term which early Spanish explorers or rancheros apparently interpreted as “Acalanes.”
Bits of bone, arrows and implements have been found in scattered locations throughout the modern city limits, primarily near the creeks. The oldest relics to be unearthed are skulls and bones of pre-historic Indians, probably more than 1,000 years old, which were discovered in 1970 during construction on Oakland Street near Hough Avenue.
Along Lafayette Creek and Happy Valley Creek where traces of ancient burial grounds have been uncovered, obsidian chips along with arrow points and bone hair-pins used by more modern Indians have been found.
Indians were still in evidence when the Mexican government carved up the land into grants and later when the early American settlers arrived on the scene. Candelario Valencia, who in 1834 was granted the Rancho Acalanes which forms part of modern Lafayette, wrote: “This place (about a quarter of a mile up Happy Valley Road) was occupied by my family and myself during a period of five years. When it (sic) had been harried by the Indians up to a point where my life and the lives of my family were endangered, I abandoned it for a time.”
Valencia’s first dwelling was burned by the Indians a few years after its construction in the mid-1830’s.
The area around Hough Avenue and Oakland Street, near the banks of Lafayette Creek, has yielded many relics of Indian occupation. These arrowheads were found by Bill Wakeman of Lafayette.