American Indian Studies
California Indians and their reservations: an online dictionary
Originally compiled by: Phillip White
A federal reservation of Klamath, Karuk, and Shasta Indians in Siskiyou County in northwestern California near the community of Fort Jones. The original Quartz Valley Reservation was near the current one, but was terminated in the 1960s. The total area today is about 174 acres, with the tribe still in the process of reacquiring land for the reservation. The population is around 126, with a tribal enrollment of about 150. Many tribal members live in or near the communities of Greenview, Fort Jones, and Etna.
One of the eight groups of the Costanoan (Ohlone) Indians, who had their own distinct language of the Penutian language family. They traditionally lived around present-day San Francisco.
The Cahuilla Indians of the Ramona Reservation. See: Website
A federal reservation of Cahuilla Indians in Riverside County, near the mountain town of Anza. Total area is 560 acres. Contact: P.O. Box 391372 Anza, CA 92539; (909) 763-4105.
The Spanish term for small Indian settlements. Rancherias are a particular California institution. A small area of land was set aside around an Indian settlement to create a rancheria. Some rancherias developed from small communities of Indians formed on the outskirts of American settlements who were fleeing Americans or avoiding removal to the reservations. Reservations represented lands bought for Indians previously without land, or lands traditionally uninhabited, as happened to Indian groups east of the Sierra divide. Before 1906, most land set aside for California Indians were designated as reservations. Between 1906 and 1934, 54 rancherias were established, as well as one "Indian village." Since 1934, five rancherias, an "Indian village," an "Indian community," and four reservations have been established. With the passage of Public Law 83-280 in the mid-1950s, terminating federal supervision and control over California tribes, some 40 rancherias lost the right to certain federal programs, and their lands no longer had the protection of federal status. In 1983, a lawsuit resulted in restoring federal recognition to 17 rancherias, with others still waiting for the reversal of their termination.
After the missions came under Mexican control in 1834 and were secularized, the mission lands were divided into ranchos, or estates. Life on the ranchos was similar to the mission life, and many mission Indians worked for subsistence wages on the ranchos that were controlled by wealthy owners.
A federal reservation of Wintun, Pit River, and Yana Indians in Shasta County, in north-central California, adjacent to the city of Redding. Total area is 31 acres, with a population of around 45. See: Website
A federal reservation of Northern Pomo Indians in Mendocino County, northeast of the town of Redwood Valley. The total area is 177 acres. The population is around 263, with a tribal enrollment of about 149.
A most useful source for information on Indian reservations is American Indian Reservations and Trust Areas (Albuquerque: Tiller Research, 1996) edited by Veronica E. Velarde Tiller. The first reservations in California were established by a federal treaty commission during 1851-1852. Eighteen treaties were signed to set up reservations amounting to 8.5 million acres. These treaties were never ratified, however, and kept secret until 1905. By 1867 there were four reservations established - Hoopa Valley, Round Valley, Smith river, and Tule River. By 1906, there were 35 reservations established. In addition, some rancherias were recognized. The total area of the reservations established during the 19th century was less than 500,000 acres. From 1906 to 1934, there were a series of appropriations for money to be used to purchase land for landless Indians in California. Rancherias were also established by a variety of legal mechanisms. In 1910, bad publicity finally forced the Indian Office (later to become the BIA) to enlarge certain reservations and establish some new ones. Since 1934, four reservations have been established, as well as five rancherias, one "Indian village" and one "Indian community."
A federal reservation of Yurok Indians in Del Norte County, in northern California, near the city of Klamath. The reservation spans 228 acres along the south shore of the mouth of the Klamath River, and serves a population of around 36 on the reservation. See: Website
The Luiseño Indians of the Rincon Reservation. See: Website
A federal reservation of Luiseño Indians in northeastern San Diego County, along the San Luis Rey River, and near the community of Valley Center. The total area is 4,275 acres. The population is around 1,495, with a tribal enrollment of about 651. See: Website
A federal reservation of Pit River, Ajumawi, and Atsugewi Indians in Shasta County, in north-central California, 43 miles from the city of Redding. Total area is 80 acres, which is located in the midst of some of the most breathtaking scenery in northern California. The population is around 14, due to the isolated location of the reservation and lack of facilities and jobs.
A federal reservation of Eastern Pomo Indians in Lake County, in northern California near the towns of Clear Lake, Nice, and Upper Lake. The rancheria consists of two sites about eight miles apart totaling of 113 acres held in trust. The population is about 153, with a tribal enrollment of around 211. See: Website
A federal reservation of the Covelo Indian Community, which is made up of Achomawi, Concow, Nomelaki, Wailaki, Wintun, Yuki, Pit River, Little Lake, and Pomo Indians in northeastern Mendocino County. Total area is over 30,537 acres, making it the second largest reservation in California and one of the oldest reservations in the state. The population of the reservation is around 300, with a tribal enrollment of about 2,615. Historically, the Round Valley Reservation was the "depository" for tribes which were rounded up by the U. S. Army between 1855-66, creating a convergence of various peoples and cultures. See: Website
One of the eight groups of Ohlone (Costanoan) Indians who had their own language of the Penutian language family. They lived traditionally around the present-day city of Carmel. See: Website
A federal reservation of Wintun (Yocha Dehe) Indians in Yolo County in the Coast Range about 33 miles northwest of Sacramento. Total area is 185 acres, with a population of around 36 people.
These people traditionally lived along the south-central California coast, inland to the mountains. Today's Salinan descendants live mainly in the Salinas Valley between Monterey and Paso Robles. There is no tribal land and the Salinan Nation has not received federal recognition. In the late 18th century there were approximately 3,000 Salinan Indians, with several hundred descendants today. In 1771, the Spanish constructed the first mission in Salinan territory called San Antonio de Padua. A second mission followed in 1797 called Mission San Miguel. After secularization of the missions in 1834, the Salinan people experienced a rapid depopulation, primarily as a result of intermarriage and assimilation. Survivors worked on the large rancheros and some were ranchers, hunters, and gatherers. Until the 1930s there was a Salinan community not far from Mission San Antonio known as The Indians. The religion of the Salinan involved offering prayers to the golden eagle, the sun, and the moon. Shamans controlled the weather. Initiation into religious societies was important. The Salinan political organization was by the typical tribelet of California Indians. In the past, the Salinan were governed by the Aak'letse, or village headwoman. Now, there is a Tribal Council. See: Website
The Serrano Indians of the San Manuel Reservation. See: Website
A federal reservation of Serrano Indians in San Bernardino County in southern California, near the town of Patton. Total area is 658 acres. Population is around 74, with about 85 tribal members in the area. See: Website
The Diegueño Indians of the San Pasqual Reservation. See: Website
A federal reservation of Kumeyaay (Diegueño) Indians in northeastern San Diego County, near the community of Valley Center. The total area is 1,380 acres which is broken up into five separate, non-contiguous tracts of land adjoining the rural community of Valley Center. The original reservation site, established in 1910, is now occupied by Lake Wolford and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The population of the reservation is around 752, with about 435 tribal members in the area. See: Website
See: Chumash Indians
Sometime between 1792 and 1809 an outlying chapel, named for Saint Gertrude the Great, was placed inland from the San Buenaventura Mission, in present-day Ventura, to serve the Indians of the Ventura River valley
A federal reservation of Tache, Tachi, and Yokuts Indians in Kings County in south-central California in the San Joaquin Valley near the town of Lemoore. The descendants of the Tachi, Wowol, and Chunut bands of the Yokuts Tribe presently live on this rancheria. Total area is 170 acres. Population is around 517, with about 408 tribal members in the area. See: The Tachi Yokut Tribe.
A federal reservation of Cahuilla Indians in Riverside County in the Santa Rosa Mountains, near the town of Anza. Total area is 11,092 acres, with a population of around 65.
The Chumash Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation. See: Website
A federal reservation of Chumash Indians in Santa Barbara County in south-central California, approximately 32 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara and about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Total area is about 100 acres, with a population of about 122. See: Website
A federal reservation of Diegueño Indians in northeastern San Diego County near the mountain towns of Santa Ysabel and Julian. Total area is 15,526 acres. Population is around 250.
This band of Pomo and Wailaki Indians in Lakeport County (120 miles north of the city of Oakland) was reinstated as a federally recognized tribe in 1991. However, the Scotts Valley Band has no land base, and in 1992, the rancheria was voided. Few of the 96 or so tribal members live in Lake County, but there are plans for the rancheria to have a land base. Contact: 9700 Soda Bay Rd., Kelseyville, CA 95451-8887
The Serrano Indian people traditionally lived in the Mojave Desert and the San Bernardino Mountains, in southern California. Their language belongs to the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. They hunted and gathered in the desert areas and relied on acorns and game in the foothills, where their settlements were more permanent. The term "serrano," meaning mountaineer, was initially used by the Spanish to designate "unnamed" Indians in the mountainous regions of southern California. Later the name came to refer only to that band of Indians whose territory extended roughly from Mount San Antonio in the San Gabriel Mountains to Cottonwood Springs in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Traditionally, the Serranos were divided into two groups, or moieties, and marriage was only allowed across group lines. Communities were usually villages of 25-100 people. Few people still speak the Serrano language, and few ancestral rituals survive. Some continue to sing traditional Bird Songs on special social occasions. Today around 85 Serrano people live on the San Manuel Reservation. Many of the 1,000 or so residents who live on or near the Morongo Reservation are also of Serrano descent. And, other Serrano people live on or near the Soboba Reservation.
The Indians called the Shasta people traditionally lived in the northernmost part of California (Siskyou County) and southern Oregon (Jackson and Klamath Counties). The Shasta were one of four Shastan tribes, the others being Konomihu, Okwanuchu, and New River Shasta. Their language belongs to the Hokan family, spoken throughout California and into Mexico, as well as through the Great Basin and into the Southwest. For food, they depended on the semiannual king salmon runs along the major rivers of their territory, as well as on acorns and game. In the 18th century there were around 3,000 Shastas. Today there are around 100 Shasta people living on the Quartz Valley Reservation in Siskyou County, and some in Yreka, California.
Now called the California Valley Miwok Tribe. Contact: 10601 Escondido Pl. Stockton, CA 95212 (209) 931-4567 See:Website
A federal reservation of Pomo Indians in Mendocino County in northwestern California. Located on two sites near the city of Willits, on U. S. Highway 101, the reservation lands are referred to as the old and new rancheria. Total area is 356 acres. Area population is around 179, with a total tribal enrollment of over 350.
A federal reservation of about 160 acres in El Dorado County in north-central California, near the town of Shingle Springs and 35 miles east of Sacramento. There is some controversy today over whether the land belongs to the Maidu or the Miwok (check the latest on the internet). Of the 400 or so tribal members of the Shingle Springs Band, around 141 live on the reservation. See: Website and also: Cesar Caballero, Miwok.
The Shoshone Indian people (or, Newe) traditionally lived on lands in the east-central area of California to the east of the Sierra Nevada range, including Owens Valley and the lands south of it, which includes Death Valley. The Shoshone language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan language family and is closely related to Paiute. These people lived in small, extended-family groups, and made a living by desert hunting and gathering. There are less than 2,000 Shoshone people today in California, living mainly on the Big Pine, Bishop, Timbi-Sha, and Lone Pine reservations.
One of three divisions of the Mewuk (or, Miwok) Indian people. Their traditional language belongs to the Penutian language family.
A federal reservation of Tolowa Indians in Del Norte County, in northwest California, north of Crescent City, and near the town of Smith River. Total area is about 186 acres. Population is 240 on-reservation people and 660 off-reservation (mostly local in Del Norte County, California, Humboldt County, California and Curry County, Oregon). The tribal land base also supports a casino, an elderly nutrition center, housing for the elderly and handicapped, a medical and dental facility, a Headstart facility, tribal housing and a tribal cemetery.
A federal reservation of Luiseño Indians in eastern Riverside County, near the town of San Jacinto. This is home to the Soboba Band of Mission Indians. Total area is over 5,915 acres of rolling hills, deep ravines, a river valley, and several alluvial plains. Population is around 522. See: Website
A federal reservation of Kashia Pomo Indians in Sonoma County. Total area is 100 acres, with a population of around 57. See: Website
A federal reservation of Pomo Indians in Lake County in northern California. The Elem Indian Colony is also known as the Sulphur Bank Rancheria, which was established by court decree in 1949. Total area is 50 acres, which lie along the northwest side of Clear Lake. The population is around 69, with tribal enrollment of about 165. See :Elem Indian Colony.
The original 30-acres of the Rancheria were purchased August 15, 1923 under the Landless and Homeless Act under which the U.S. Congress provided funds to purchase lands for landless and homeless California Indians. An additional 120 acres was added to the Rancheria on October 14, 1978, under the special legislation of Public Law 95-459 which was sponsored by Congressman Bizz Johnson. Another 80 acres was donated to the Rancheria in 1994 that has not been put into Federal Trust status. An additional 72 acres located at the Sierra Army Depot based in Herlong, California, was acquired from the U.S. Department of the Army under the Base Reutilization and Closure (BRAC) Act and added to the Rancheria on November 6, 2000. The tribe elected to charter under authority of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, and thus the Rancheria Constitution and Bylaws were approved by the Secretary of the Interior on March 3, 1969. The anthropological tribes associated with the Rancheria are: Northern Paiute, Northeastern Maidu, Washoe, Achomawi and Atsugewi. The federal government, however, through the Department of the Interior recognizes political entities and not the anthropological entities. The original 30-acre parcel was purchased from a Mrs. Taylor for the landless and homeless California Indians living in and around the Susanville area. Because there were many landless and homeless Paiute, Maidu, Washoe and Pit River Indians (the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognized the Pit River Tribe as the political entity for the Achomawi and Atsugewi Indians) living in the general Susanville area, the Rancheria land was purchased and considered to have "federal status as a tribe." The individual Indians from the various named tribes thus became one political, governmental entity with the charting and approval of its constitution and bylaws by the Secretary of the Interior in 1969. The Susanville Indian Rancheria, although it is made up of various other tribes, is recognized as a distinct (political) entity from the other tribes who make up the Susanville membership. There is no dual membership allowed in the Susanville Constitution. The Washoe Tribe is formed and recognized by the federal government as the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. The eleven small bands of the Pit River Indians have formed and are recognized by the federal government as the Pit River Nation. The Maidu Tribes are in the process of forming under the recognition process through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Susanville Indian Rancheria is acknowledged as the recognized tribe for the Rancheria although there are four anthropological tribes involved, each of which are recognized as political entities. Thus, the federal government recognizes only the Susanville Indian Rancheria as the political entity for the rancheria. The governing body of the Susanville Indian Rancheria is the General Council, which is composed of all the members who are at least eighteen years old. The General Council has delegated the responsibility of running the day-to-day business of the Rancheria to the Tribal Business Council, which is a seven-member board. The members are elected by the General Council members every three years. The officers of the Tribal Business Council are: Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer. The Tribe has a voting membership of 246, but including spouses and members under the age of eighteen, there is a population of 361 individuals associated with the Rancheria. The Tribal Health Program serves over 1,500 Native Americans in Lassen County. See: Website
The Kumeyaay (Diegueño) Indians of the Sycuan Reservation or Rancheria. See: Website
A federal reservation of Kumeyaay (Diegueño) Indians in eastern San Diego County, six miles from the city of El Cajon. Total area is 640 acres, with about 33 tribal members on the reservation. See: Website