American Indian Studies
California Indians and their reservations: an online dictionary
Originally compiled by: Phillip White
One of the tribes of Yokuts Indians which has members residing on the Tule River Reservation, and who try to revitalize traditional culture Yokuts practices. The Wukchumni Tribe has its own tribal council. See also: Yokuts Indians
A federal reservation of Wiyot Indians in Humboldt County, near the town of Loleta. Total area is 102 acres, with a population of around 97. See: Wiyot Tribe. Website
A federal reservation of Yokuts Indians in Fresno County near the town of Friant. Total area is 61 acres. Reservation population is around 11, with about 34 people in the adjacent population. Contact: P.O. Box 410, Friant, CA 93626.
Branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, spoken by peoples from the Great Basin south through central and southern California and on into central Mexico. Spoken by the California tribes of Luiseño, Juaneño, Cupeño, and Cahuilla.
The Timbi-sha are Western Shoshone who have a 40-acre federal reservation in Death Valley (Inyo County), in south-central California, near the Nevada border. This site is commonly known as Indian Village. Prior to European contact, the Western Shoshone called themselves the Newe (people). The group that traditionally lived in the Death Valley region called themselves Timbi-sha, named after what is now known as Furnace Creek. The Death Valley Timbi-sha Band was federally recognized in 1982, and has approximately 285 enrolled members. In 2000, the U.S. Congress approved expanding their reservation over 10,000 acres more to include land in and outside of Death Valley. For a summary of the tribe's acquiring more of their traditional ancestral homelands and the plans in the upcoming years for the use of the land, see the online or printed version of the Senate Report entitled Providing to the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe a Permanent Land Base within its Aboriginal Homeland, and for Other Purposes (June 30, 2000). This report led up to the passage of the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland Act. See: Website
The southern dialectical form of the Kumeyaay (Diegueño) language; classified as a Hokan language of the Yuman branch. In the San Diego County area, Tipai is generally spoken by the Kumeyaay south of the San Diego River and into Baja California. Also, Tipai is the name for the Southern Diegueño and Kamia people. For Tipai-Ipai people, See: Kumeyaay (Diegueño)
These are the Diegueño Mission Indians, or Kumeyaay, Diegueño, and Kamia Indians.
Another name of the Bankalachi people, one of the three autonomous bands of the Tubatulabal people
The Tolowa Indian people traditionally lived in the coastal redwood forests in the northwestern most corner of present-day California and southern Oregon. They lived in about eight permanent villages from Wilson Creek north to the Oregon border. They spoke several dialects of Tolowa, an Athabascan language. Their language is related to some other languages spoken in northwestern California, but also of the same language family of peoples in interior Alaska and Canada, and the Apache and Navajo in the Southwest. They made their living by catching salmon and using other marine and land resources. In the early 19th century, there were around 2,400 Tolowa. Today there are approximately 1,200 Tolowa people who are members of Tolowa Nation, Smith River and Elk Valley Rancherias, and they live in traditional Tolowa Territory.
A federal reservation of Cahuilla Indians in Imperial and Riverside counties, with headquarters at the town of Thermal. This is the Torres-Martinez Band of Mission Indians. Total area is 24,024 acres, with a population of around 4,146. See: Website
The Spanish made no treaties with any Indian peoples, but believed that by their right of discovery the land was theirs to use as they saw fit. After the Americans established a new government over California in 1848, a federal treaty commission was sent to California in 1851-1852 to deal with the "Indian problem." This commission entered into 18 treaties with 400 or so chiefs and headmen, representing between one-third and one-half of California Indians. These treaties set aside reservations totaling around 8.5 million acres. However, due to protests of the non-Indian population who wanted much of these prime farming and mining lands, the treaties were never ratified, and were kept secret until 1905. Instead, smaller reservations were eventually set up for the "subsistence and protection" of California Indians. These reservations were all less than 25,000 acres. The governmental policy was to remove the Indians from all valuable land. In the 1850s, the United States established several reservations which were abandoned in the following decade due to lack of federal aid, massacres, kidnappings, and land theft. By 1867 there were four major reservations established. In 1875 the United States began granting reservations to so-called Mission Indians. Most California Indians were never restricted to reservations but were left to fend for themselves, with their land taken and most of their people destroyed.
Groupings of several villages, whose members spoke the same language. Alfred L. Kroeber coined the word to indicate the basic, autonomous, self-governing, and independent sociopolitical group found all over the state of California. The tribelet represented a cluster of satellite villages located around one or more permanent villages. Tribelets shared a language, culture, and history. The tribelet consisted of the aggregation of people (from 50 to 500 people) living in two or more (often up to a dozen) separate villages, acknowledging the leadership of a chief who usually resided in the largest and most important of the several settlements. The chief, or headman, controlled economic resources and activity, and was generally wealthy and greatly respected. A study by Omer C. Stewart, for example, found the Pomo were divided into 34 tribelets living on 3,370 square miles of land and numbering altogether about 8,000 persons. Perhaps 500 tribelets existed in aboriginal California.
A federal reservation of Yurok, Weott (Wiyot), and Tolowa Indians in Humboldt County in northern California, about 25 miles north of the city of Eureka, near Trinidad. The full name of this reservation is the Cher-ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria. Descendants of three tribes of California's displaced Indians occupy the rancheria. The Weott and Yurok languages are related to the Algonquian languages, while the Tolowa language is Athabascan. All three tribes traditionally lived in the coastal region of what is now northern California, and share a similar cultural heritage. Total area of the reservation is 47.2 acres. Population is around 73, with about 154 tribal members living in the area. See: Website
Neighbors to the Hupa people, who spoke a dialect of Hupa and traded with the Hupa. Tsnungwe territory is just south of the Hoopa Valley Reservation, around the South Fork of the Trinity River. Many Tsnungwe people were placed on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in 1864, while others returned to their traditional homelands in the 1880s outside of the reservation. They number around 150, without federal recognition.
A large pre-contact Yurok Indian village on the northern California coast in Humboldt County, near the present-day reservation of Trinidad Rancheria.
This group of Indian people traditionally lived in the Kern River Valley in the southern Sierra Nevada, extending from the sources of the North and South forks of the Kern River, near Mt. Whitney, to about 40 miles below the junction of the two river forks. They originally lived in three autonomous bands: the Pahkanapil, Palagewan, and Bankalachi, or Toloim. Although their language is a subgroup of the Uto-Aztecan language family, which is widespread throughout the state, the Tubatulabal language is very different from neighboring languages of this type. Their staple foods were acorns and pine nuts, along with the gathering of vegetables and the taking of game. In the early 19th century, there were around 1,000 Tubatulabal living in their traditional region. Today there are about 400 Tubatulabal people living in the Kern River Valley, with estimates of about 500 more living outside the area, including some on the Tule River Reservation.
A federal reservation of Yokuts Indians in Tulare County in south-central California, about 20 miles east of the town of Porterville. The descendants of various tribes of Yokuts people live on the Tule River Reservation. Prior to European contact, there were approximately 60 Yokuts tribes living in the area. However, by the late 19th century, about three-fourths of the original population had died by disease and warfare. Many Yokuts were moved together on the Tule River Reservation when it was established by Executive Order in 1873. The total area of the reservation is 55,356 acres. The population is around 566, with about 850 tribal members in the area. See: Website
A federal reservation of Me-Wuk (Miwok) and Yokut Indians in Tuolumne County in east-central California, in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada near Yosemite National Park. The Tuolumne Band of Miwok is part of the Sierra Mewuk people, one of three divisions of the Mewuk. The traditional territory of the Sierra Mewuk was the setting for the California gold rush when gold was discovered there in 1848. Total area of the rancheria is just over 335 acres. The reservation population is around 168 people, with about 285 served in the area. See: Black Oak Casino
A federal reservation of Luiseño Indians in San Bernardino County, near the city of Palm Springs. This belongs to the Twenty-nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. Total area is 160 acres, which is unoccupied. See: c/o Dean Mike 555 S Sunrise Hwy. Suite 200 Palm Springs, CA 92262
A federally recognized group of Indians in Auburn, California, called the United Auburn Community of Indians. The reestablishment of the United Auburn Indian Tribe began when the Department of Interior documented the existence of a separate, cohesive band of Maidu and Miwok Indians, occupying a village on the outskirts of the city of Auburn in Placer County. In 1917, the United States acquired land in trust for the Auburn Band near the city of Auburn and formally established a reservation known as the Auburn Rancheria. Tribal members continued to live on the reservation as a community despite great adversity. In 1953, the United States Congress enacted the Rancheria Act, authorizing the termination of federal trust responsibilities to a number of California Indian tribes including the Auburn Band. With the exception of a 2.8 acre parcel containing a tribal church and a park, the government sold the land comprising the Auburn Rancheria. The United States terminated federal recognition of the Auburn Band in 1967. Finally in 1970, President Nixon declared the policy of termination a failure. Eight years later, both the United States Senate and House of Representatives expressly repudiated this policy in favor of a new federal policy entitled Indian Self-Determination. In 1991, surviving members of the Auburn Band reorganized their tribal government as the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) and requested the United States to formally restore their federal recognition. An Act of Congress passed the Auburn Indian Restoration Act, which restored the tribe's federal recognition in 1994. The Act provides that the Tribe may acquire land in Placer County to establish a new reservation. For more information on the United Auburn Indian Tribe contact Doug Elmets or Nicole Poimiroo at (916) 329-9180. See: Website
A federal reservation of Pomo Indians in Lake County, in northwestern California, near the city of Upper Lake. This is the home of the Upper Lake Band of Pomo Indians. Total area is 119 acres, with a population of around 82.
This language family is of the Hokan language group and incorporates the languages spoken by many peoples from the Great Basin south through central and southern California and on into central Mexico. Indian peoples in California speaking languages of the Uto-Aztecan family include the Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Cupeño, Kawaiisu, Kitanemuk, Luiseño, Paiute, Serrano, Shoshone, Tubatulabel, and Western Mono.
A regional group of the Chumash. See: Chumash
A federal reservation of Kumeyaay (Diegueño) Indians in eastern San Diego County, near the town of Alpine. Also known as the Baron Long Reservation. The original reservation for the Kumeyaay people was established by Executive Order in 1875, granting the Kumeyaay the 15,753-acre Capitan Grande Reservation. However, the County of San Diego displaced the Kumeyaay and built a reservoir on their reservation. Another Executive Order established the Viejas Reservation to the south of Capitan Grande in 1934. The Capitan Grande Reservation is now owned by Viejas, Barona, and other non-reservation groups. The Kumeyaay occupy eight of the 17 reservations in San Diego County. Total area of the reservation is 1,609 acres. Population is around 289. See: Website
The Wailaki people traditionally occupied lands in the northwestern corner of the state, primarily in the foothills of the Coast Range, about 50 miles or so inland from the Pacific Coast. They lived along the Eel River and the North Fork Eel River. Traditionally, the Wailaki consisted of at least 19 tribelets and 95 villages. Their language belongs to the Athabascan language family. They are culturally related to four other small tribes - the Mattole, Lassik, Sinkyone, and Nongatle, who lived just to the north and west. They utilized acorns as their principal staple food, and also ate other vegetable foods and game, and salmon along the main rivers. In the mid-19th century, there were around 2,700 Wailaki in their region. Today, there are approximately 1,000 Wailaki people, many living on the Round Valley Reservation, and in and around Mendocino County. For pictures, see: Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian
The Wappo are an Indian people who traditionally occupied a mountainous area of northern California, including the Russian River valleys and part of the Napa Valley. Their language, together with Yuki, forms a branch of the Penutian family, related to a large group of central and northern California languages. There are no surviving speakers of Wappo. Their traditional way of life was based on the resources of Clear Lake, and on the gathering of acorns and other vegetable foods, and on game. Today a small number of Wappo people still live in their traditional lands, although they have no reservation lands. For pictures, see: Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian
The Cupeño Indians who were removed from their traditional village at Warner's Springs to the reservation at Pala.
The Washoe Indian people had traditional lands covering more than 4,000 square miles, centering on Lake Tahoe, on the present California-Nevada border. Their language is of the Hokan language family. Their way of life centered on desert hunting and gathering, with frequent movement of bands based on family units. Today Washoe people live in California on the Woodfords Indian Colony in Alpine County, and on the eastern side of Lake Tahoe in Nevada on and near the Washoe colonies of Alpine, Carson, Dresslerville, and Sparks. All these colonies are governed by a single tribal council: Washoe Tribal Headquarters - 919 Highway 395 South, Gardnerville, Nevada 89410; 775-265-4191 See: Website
These Indians traditionally lived in the northwestern corner of California. The Whilkut language is of the Athabascan language family and they lived near other Athabascan groups. Their survival was based on salmon from the major rivers of their territory, as well as on acorns in the areas away from the rivers. Today their descendants live mainly on the Hoopa Valley Reservation.
One of the two permanent villages of the Cupeño Indians prior to 1902. The other was Kupa. Each was politically independent, and decisions concerning the entire village were taken by consensus of the clan leaders.
The Wintu Indians are a division of the Penutian-speaking Wintun Indians of the Sacramento Valley region, which also includes the Nomlaki and Patwin Indians.
The Wintun Indian people have three divisions: the Wintu (northern), Nomlaki (central), and Patwin (southern). Their traditional territories are located in the greater Sacramento Valley, with the Sacramento River a major feature of all the regions. Their lands vary from the Wintu mountain rivers in the north, through the Nomlaki plains, to the marshes, valleys, and hills of the Patwin. Their languages are of the Penutian family. Their diet came from the semiannual runs of king salmon up major rivers, to acorns and other vegetable foods, to game. In the early 1800s, there were approximately 12,000-15,000 members of the Wintun Tribe. Spanish settlers arrived in Wintun territory by 1808, and the Hudson Bay Company trappers arrived sometime before 1832. Tribal unity was destroyed by the taking of land and the destruction of traditional food and material-gathering areas. Along with the introduction of cattle, hogs, and sheep, the construction of dams, and the Copper processing plants in the 1880s and early 1900s, the Wintun suffered a heavy toll on their health and survival. Today there are over 2,500 people of Wintun descent. Many live on the Round Valley Reservation, and on the Colusa, Cortina, Grindstone Creek, Redding, and Rumsey rancherias. See also: Nomlaki See: Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Website and Colusa Indian Community Website
The Wiyot Indian people (or, Weott) traditionally were located on the far northwest coast of California, along the shores of Humboldt Bay and the mouths of the Mad and Eel rivers. They are one of three culturally and linguistically related groups on the Eel River Delta, and were culturally similar to the Yurok. Their language is not one of the usual California languages, but is of the Algonquian language family, related to languages spoken throughout large areas of eastern North America. (Only the Yurok share this language family in California). Their way of life centered around the coastal-tideland gathering of shellfish and other marine resources. There were as many as 3,500 Wiyot living in their region in the early 19th century. Today there are about 450 people of Wiyot descent. Most of them live in non-Indian communities in northern California, while about 50 of them live on the Blue Lake, Rohnerville, Table Bluff, and Trinidad rancherias. See: Website
A colony of Washoe Indians in Alpine County in northern California, near Lake Tahoe.
A federal reservation of Pit River Indians in Modoc County, in northeastern California, near the town of Burney. Residents of the X-L Ranch Reservation belong to the Pit River Tribe, which is composed of eleven distinct bands, and who speak the Achumawi and Atsugewi language, which are two closely-related members of the Palaihnihan branch of the greater Hokan linguistic family. The total area of the reservation is a little over 9,254 acres, representing the largest of acquired lands for "landless Indians" by Congress at the beginning of the 20th century. The population is around 40 people.
The Yokuts people traditionally occupied the San Joaquin Valley and foothills in the central part of California. The three divisions were the Northern Valley Yokuts, the Southern Valley Yokuts, and the Foothill Yokuts. Contemporary Yokuts tribes include the Choinumni, the Chukchansi, the Tachi (or Tache) and the Wukchumni. The Yokutsan languages are of the Penutian family. Their diets consisted of king salmon along the major rivers, with a mixed resource base of fish, vegetable foods, and game in valleys with lesser tributaries. In the foothills, acorns were the principal food source, with other vegetable foods and game playing a secondary role. In the early 18th century, there were between 18,000 and 50,000 Yokuts, one of the highest regional population densities in aboriginal North America. Today there are some 2,000 Yokuts living on the Picayune, Santa Rosa, and Table Mountain rancherias, and on the Tule River Reservation. There are about 600 more Yokuts in two tribes which are not federally recognized, and others scattered around California. See also: Picayune Rancheria of Chuckchansi Indians.
For pictures, see: Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian
The Yana Indian people traditionally occupied lands in the northern part of the state, next to and extending to the southwest of Mt. Lassen, in the upper Sacramento River Valley and the adjacent eastern foothills. Their language belongs to the Hokan language family, with four divisions (Northern, Central, Southern, and Yahi), although there are no speakers of Yana today. Their traditional lifestyle depended on acorns as the main staple food, with other gathered vegetables and game adding to their subsistence. The aboriginal population of Yana was probably fewer than 2,000. Today, some people of Yana descent live on the Redding Rancheria.
Ethnologically, the natives of Yosemite Valley belonged to the Mariposa dialect group of the southern Sierra Miwok Indians. The Yosemite area was occupied by Indians between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. Ancestors of the historic Sierra Miwoks probably began entering the foothills and higher elevations of the Sierra from the Central Valley about 2,000 years ago. Within late prehistoric and early historic times, the Central and Southern Sierra Miwoks constituted the primary inhabitants of the Yosemite National Park area (Greene, Linda Wedel. Yosemite: The Park and Its Resources. Vol. 1. Historic Resource Study. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of the Interior, 1987). However, other tribes also occupied and regularly visited the Central Sierra, including the Yosemite region, primarily the Washo and the Mono Paiutes (who lived immediately east of Yosemite in the western Great Basin in an area that includes Mono Lake). The Paiutes claim they occasionally hunted in Little Yosemite Valley and spent the winter in Yosemite Valley, and also inhabited Hetch Hetchy Valley. At the time of the discovery of Yosemite Valley by whites, the estimated population of the Indians in Yosemite was between 200-500. There were three kinds of villages in the Yosemite Valley - permanent villages (occupied the year round); summer villages (May-October); and seasonal camps (for hunting and fishing). Some 37 camps have been counted in the Valley proper and at least six camps were occupied as late as 1898. The people living there belonged to the Ahwahneechee, or Ahwahnee Mew'wah, or Sierra Mewuk, (or, Miwok Indians). However, Chief Teneiya (or, Tenaya), the Chief of these Indians when the white men arrived in the 1850s, was recognized by the Mono tribe (found on the eastern side of the Sierras), as one of their numbers as he was born and lived among them until he founded the Paiute colony in Ahwahnee, or Yosemite Valley. The original Indian name of Yosemite Valley was Ah-wah'-nee (deep grassy valley, or perhaps, place of a gaping mouth), and the Indians living there were called Ah-wah-neé-chees according to statements by Chief Teneiya to Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell who published Discovery of the Yosemite, and the Indian War of 1851, Which Led to That Event (Chicago: F. H. Revell, 1880). Chief Teneiya said the Ah-wah-neé-chees had been a large and powerful tribe, but by reason of wars and a fatal black sickness, nearly all had been destroyed, and the survivors of the band fled from the Valley and joined other tribes. This left Yosemite Valley empty for many years until Chief Teneiya returned from living with the Monos, where he had fled back home. Many years before this time, Teneiya's father had left Yosemite Valley and gone to live among the Monos, marrying a maiden of that tribe. Their son, Teneiya then brought some of his father's old tribe of Mono Paiutes and other Indians with him to Yosemite Valley, claiming it as the birthright of his people, and taking the name for his band as Yosemite Indians (from the word for large grizzly bear). Other bands of Indians were in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park at this time (Po-ho-neé-chees, Po-to-en'-cies, Wil-tuc-um'-nees, Noot'-choos, Chow-chil'-las, Ho-na'-ches, Me'-woos, Chook-chan'-ces) and these Indians, including the Yosemites, were all somewhat affiliated by common ancestry or by intermarriage according to Galen Clark in Indians of the Yosemite Valley and Vicinity (Yosemite Valley, CA: Galen Clark, 1907). When the Mariposa Battalion was organized under the command of Maj. James D. Savage to pursue these California tribes in the Mariposa Indian War of the early 1850s, the Yosemite Indians and one or two other bands of Indians retreated into the mountains of the Sierras. It was during this war campaign of the whites against the Indians that Maj. Savage and his 200 men discovered the Yosemite Valley on March 25, 1851 (two miners glimpsed Yosemite Valley in October 1849 while hunting a bear). Teneiya and his people were taken to the Fresno Reservation in June 1851. Chief Teneiya, his family and some of his followers were allowed to return to Yosemite Valley after being on the reservation for only a few months. In May 1852, the Yosemite Indians killed a party of prospectors coming into Yosemite Valley, setting off another expedition of troops into Yosemite in pursuit of the Indians. After many of the Yosemite Indians were killed, Chief Teneiya and the surviving Yosemites escaped over the mountains into Mono country. Teneiya and his little band stayed with the Monos until the autumn of 1853, when they returned to Yosemite Valley. But, after some of Teneiya's men raided the Monos for horses, the Monos set upon Teneiya and his people and the old chief and many of his warriors were killed. Yosemite became a national park in 1890, and incorporated Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove in 1906, comprising almost 1,200 square miles of mountains and meadows on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada in central California.
Prehistoric Kumeyaay village located in San Diego County along the coast at the present-day merge of Interstate Highways 5 and 805, near the city of Del Mar. These people moved seasonally to Pawaii (Poway), and up to the Cuyamaca mountains for the late summer and fall seasons.
The Yuki Indian people were traditionally located in northwestern California, just south of the area historically occupied by the Athabascan speakers. Their language, together with Wappo, forms one branch of the Penutian language family, although there are no speakers of Yuki today. Along the coast, the Yuki depended on fish and shellfish, with land resources of secondary importance. Along the major rivers, they ate king salmon, with acorns and game of lesser importance. In the foothills of the Coast Range, acorns were the major staple food resource, followed by other vegetable foods and game. Today there are about 85 people of Yuki descent, with around 50 living on the Round Valley Reservation. For pictures, see: Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian.
A large branch of languages which includes the Hokan language family, spoken by peoples from northern California south into Mexico and east into the Great Basin. See also: Hokan
The Yurok Indian people traditionally lived in the far northwestern corner of California, along the lower Klamath River and on the Pacific Coast near its mouth. Their language belongs to the Algonquian language family, as does the Wiyot Indian language. These are the only two tribes in California who speak Algonquian. The Algonquian language family contains many languages spoken over large areas of eastern North America. The Yurok made their living in a variety of ways, from coastal-tideland gathering of fish and shellfish, to salmon fishing along the major rivers in the area, to the gathering of vegetables and killing of game. The aboriginal Yurok population was roughly 3,000 in the early 19th century. After the gold rush of 1849, warfare, diseases, malnutrition, and poverty, the Yurok population reached its ebb around 1910, when only 688 were counted. This was a 73% decline from the 1848 population. Today there are over 3,500 enrolled tribal members, living mainly on the Yurok Reservation, and on the Big Lagoon, Blue Lake, Elk Valley, Resighini, Smith River, and Tsurai (Trinidad) rancherias, as well as in nearby non-reservation areas near and in Humboldt County.See: Website
A federal reservation of Yurok Indians in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, near the Pacific Coast town of Eureka, about 30 miles south of the Oregon border. Total reservation area is 56,585 acres, although about 85% of the land remains outside of federal trust status. The population on the reservation is around 1,103.