Betty J. Mason, M.L.S. (Muscogee Creek)


Mission: The Independent American Indian Review is appropriate for any person or group interested in learning more about contemporary Indian nations. Each issue of the magazine, with the exception of special index of review editions, focuses on a different American Indian nation, or group of nations, within a region. Articles share interviews and information on contemporary American Indian leaders who have broken today’s negative stereotypes and who are working to gain control of their community’s destiny. Photographs are included whenever possible to link readers with these contemporary American Indian people. Legends and creation stories are included in most issues for younger children as well as for adults.

This special edition introduces the California Indian Peoples with a focus on native resources in Northern California. This issue is organized into two major sections: An Introduction to California Indian Peoples, which includes similar historical events and legislation on all American Indian nations; and Reviews on books, media, music and electronic resources.

The first section introduces the First Peoples of California, past and present. It outlines a brief history, which lists chronologies of significant events. This treatment includes maps and listings of over 100 Federally Recognized Tribes; a current listing of terminated reservations and unrecognized tribes in California, and relevant BIA offices and agencies. There is an update on the status of Indian Country in California. Educational Resources includes brief profiles on Native American Studies programs and libraries at Berkeley, Stanford and UCLA. This section includes biographical highlights on a wide representation of contemporary Native Leaders, Educators, Artists and Writers of California Indian ancestry in this state. More lengthy interviews and photos are available on a scholar, an educator and a librarian. Profiles will include references, suggested readings and websites, depending on available resources.

The second section will be on multi-media reviews including the subject-specific California Indian Library Collections. The reviews are categorized under the following types with appropriate age groups on media and websites; serial publications and scholarly publications; references; children’s literature and books for youth and adults. Each review includes publication and price information, when available; a brief summary and suggested uses for libraries and classrooms. Suggested grade levels and specific subjects integration, when appropriate, is given. If the material or media is recommended, it is noted as such. If the material or media is not recommended, the reviewer provides an explanation, and suggests ways in which the material might be used. Information in recommended resources can be used by any age group to increase their understanding of American Indians/Alaska Natives. This review section on literature and electronic resources will focus on the Indian peoples and resources of Northern California. An index to reviews is included.






By Betty J. Mason






        Pre-Contact Map



CALIFORNIA INDIAN COUNTRY: Rejuvenation of Cultures, Languages & Recognition




Today, the California Indian peoples are "still dancing, singing, telling stories", so noted Greg Sarris, in his anthology on new California Indian writing. It is the oral traditions and written literature and songs that informs the world, both Indian and non-Indian, that these California peoples are still here and survive.

This issue of IAIR then focuses on the writings, poetry, oral traditions and cultures of these native peoples of Northern and Central California. This article is a survey of their literature and contemporary profiles, to dispel the myths that these people are extinct. This survey includes a very brief introduction to the diversity of California Indian Peoples with a focus on the native resources of Northern California.

In the1990 census, the golden state of California had the second largest Indian population in the United States. Second only to Oklahoma, California had a total Indian population of 242,000 natives. In the next census of 2000, the golden state is projected to have the third highest Native American population in the U.S. This state has an estimated 160 tribal entities living on reservations, rancherias and in large metropolitan areas and isolated allotments in rural areas. According to reference sources and BIA reports, California has about 100 Federally Recognized Indian Reservations, Rancherias and Reserves under the Sacramento Area Office (Sources: Tiller, 1996; www.doi.gov/bureau-indian-affairs.html).

This section includes a listing of thirty-five major cultural groups (Tiller, 1996). There is a Pre-contact Map on California with tribal territories, courtesy of the California Indian Library Collection and updated by Paula Giese  (http://indy4.fdl.cc.mn.us/~isk/maps/ca/california.html) followed by a brief history and chronology of significant events. There is a section on contemporary California that includes several listings and a map from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The first listing shows the status of Federally Recognized reservations, rancherias and reserves compiled from the Federal Register, and updated from available guides and websites. The next listings include terminated tribes, unrecognized tribes and BIA area offices and agencies. The BIA Map of California shows the location and names of Federally Recognized Reservations and Rancherias under the Sacramento Area Office. (Sources: Tiller, 1996; Field, 1999; www.doi.gov//bureau-indian-affairs.htm l; Klein, 1998)



Prehistory and history of California Native Peoples are organized into three major periods: The Precontact Period, the Spanish/Mexican Period, and the American Period. The Precontact Period is that golden era from prehistory to the middle of the sixteenth century. The Spanish/Mexican Period which includes the popular mission era was from 1769 to 1846. The first 25 years of the American Period began with the Mexican-American War in 1846 and ended in 1870, including the American Invasion, the Gold Rush, and Statehood. The American Period continues to the present.


The pre-contact period is that era of history before contact with Europeans. Briefly, the Precontact Period began around 12,000 years ago. By 7,000 B.C., people had migrated into the California region and developed into numerous diverse and distinct tribal groupings and territories with dozens of languages from about seven major language groups and language families. The pre-contact map, courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections (CILC) is a graphic representation of the location of the California Indian Precontact tribal territories.

On the next page are the pre-contact map and the listing of 35 major California cultural groups (Eargle, 1992; Tiller, 1996) including languages and traditional homelands. The intent of the alphabetical listing and map are to illustrate the diversity of languages, cultures and territories of California Indians before contact.






CAHTO: southernmost Athabascan-speaking tribe on the Pacific coast in the northwestern corner of the state. Listed on the map as Kato, another common spelling.

CAHUILLA: Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, located inland southern California.

CHEMEHUEVI: southern Paiutes along the Colorado River; Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan Language family.

CHILULA: one of the Athabascan peoples in the extreme northwestern corner of the state.

CHUMASH: lands in southern California, and spoke one of the five closely related Hokan languages.

CUPENO: Foothills of the Coast Range near the Mexican border; Takic language of Uto-Aztecan language family.

HUPA: northwestern corner of the state, and their language belongs in the Athabascan language family.

KARUK: along the Klamath River in far northwestern California; one of the Hokan language families.

KAWAIISU: foothills between Mohave Desert & San Joaquin Valley; Southern Numic branch, Uto-Aztecan language.

KITANEMUK: southern California and their language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family.

KUMEYAAY (DIEGUENO): near Mexican border on coast near Colorado River; Hokan language of Yuman branch.

LUISENO-JUANENO: southern California coastline; Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family.

MAIDU: lived in northcentral part of the state, and their languages are of the Penutian family.

MATTOLE: northwestern corner of the state near the Oregon border, and speak an Athabascan language.

MIWOK: Coast Miwok, the Lake Miwok, and the Sierra Mewuk; north central California, and spoke Hokan languages.

MOJAVE (MOHAVE): along the Colorado River; a language belonging to the Yuman branch of the Hokan family.

MONO, WESTERN (MOHACHE): south-central Sierra Nevada foothills; Uto-Aztecan family, related to Paiute.

PAIUTE: two main groups in California, the Northern Paiute and the Owens Valley Paiute; Uto-Aztecan language.

PIT RIVER (ACHIUMAWI, ATSUGEWI): eleven bands of Pit River Nation, along the Pit River in far northeastern part of the state and speak the languages of Achumawi and Atsugewi, closed related to the Hokan languages.

POMO: northwestern California; seven related but mutually unintelligible languages belonging to the Hokan family.

SERRANO: southern California in Mojave Desert & San Bernardino Mountains; Takic branch, Uto-Aztecan family.

SHASTA: northernmost part of California and southern Oregon; language belongs to the Hokan family.

SHOSHONE: east-central area to east of Sierra Nevada, including Owens Valley; language closely related to Paiute and belonging to the Uto-Aztecan family.

TOLOWA: coastal redwood forest area of northwestern corner of state; belongs to Athabascan language family.

TUBATULABAL: Kern River Valley in southern Sierra Nevada; Uto-Aztecan language family but appears to be very different from similar languages of this type.

WAILAKI: northwestern corner, mainly in foothills of the Coast Range: belongs to the Athabascan language family.

WAPPO: mountainous area of northern California, including Russian River valleys; language together with Yuki, which forms a branch of the Penutian family.

WASHOE: over 4,000 square miles area centered on Lake Tahoe near California-Nevada border; Hokan language.

WHILKUT: northwestern corner of state near other Athabascan peoples; closely related to other California Athabascan languages.

WINTUN: three divisions are Wintun, Nomlaki, & Patwin; greater Sacramento Valley, languages of Penutian family.

WIYOT: far northwest coast of California, along shores of Humboldt Bay; belongs to Algonquian language family.

YANA: northern part of the state near Mt. Lassen, and their language belongs to the Hokan language family.

YOKUTS: San Joaquin Valley and foothills in central part of the state; language belongs to the Penutian family.

YUKI: northwestern California; language, together with Wappo, forms one branch of the Penutian language family.

YUROK: along the Klamath River & on the Pacific Coast in far northwestern corner; belongs to Algonquian family.



The Spanish/Mexican historical period lasted about 300 years from 1542-1846. Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo, an explorer, claimed the coast of Alta California as early as 1542. First contact with Europeans during the Mission Period was a disaster for the coastlands Indians. Significant events (Kroeber, 1967, Heizer, 1980 and Washburn, 1988) listed below.

1542 Alta California and the Chumash Indians discovered by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Portuguese explorer. He claimed the coastlands for Spain.

1579 Sir Francis Drake, Englishman visited the Coast Miwok Indians for a few weeks.

1769-1834 Mission Period. Spanish padres, Franciscan order established 21 missions built by enforced native labor, along the coastlands from San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north. 1769 Indian population estimated at 310,000. Missions established in territories of the Diegueno, Luiseno, Juaneno, Gabrieleno, Fernandeno, Chumash, Salinan, Costanoan, and Coast Miwok. Others affected by the Mission system were the Pomo, Yukian, Maidu, Wintun, Yokuts, Esselen, Shoshonean, and Yuman. High rates of mission Indian deaths (64,000) due to disease, cultural shock, starvation, change in diet, and sickness. Raped native mission women practiced infanticide and abortion.

Destruction of the San Diego Mission by 800-1000 Kumeyaay Indian neophytes.

1777-1827 Three major epidemics (respiratory, pneumonia & diphtheria, measles) occurred during the Spanish occupation. Series of epidemics killed thousands of missions Indians with no natural immunities to common European diseases.

Revolt by 2000 Indians at Missions La Purisima and Santa Barbara.

1821-1846 Mexican Period and Mexican Revolution in 1821. Property confiscated and Indians seized for forced labor. Rancheros developed peonage system. Intermittent warfare between Interior Indians and Mexican colonists.

1832-1833 1932 Pestilence almost depopulated the whole valley of Sacramento and San Joaquin. Year of the Falling Stars, 1833 epidemic killed about 4,500 Wintu, Maidu, Miwok, Yokut and other Sierra Indians.

                                                     1834-1836 Secularization of the Missions.

1846 By the end of the era, there were an estimated 100,000 surviving Indians.



The American historical period began in 1846 with the Mexican/American War. The first 25 years was a holocaust for California Indians (Castillo, 1978a; Cook, 1978; Tiller, 1996; Field, 1999). Chronology with brief descriptions listed below.

1846-1870 American Period. United States naval and military forces sized California.

1848 Gold Rush. Discovered at Sutter’s sawmill at Coloma.

1849-1868 Massacres (Clear Lake, Nome Cult Valley, Pauma, Infernal Caverns, etc.) by the Military. Private military forays subsidized by federal and state government legislative acts.

1850 Statehood. Admitted to the union as a non-slave holding state.

1850-1863 State legislature enacted 1850 "An Act for the Government and Protection of Indians" legalized enforced labor or slavery. Amended 1860 extended indenture (10-20,000).

1851-1853 Indian commission from Washington signed a series of quick-claim deeds or treaties with California Indians to established 18 military reservations on 7.5 million acres. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaties and stored in Senate Archives for over 50 years

1870-1873 Ghost Dance. Reservations established at Pala and Pasqual but local protests led to its rescinding by President Grant. Modoc War 1872-1873.

Reservation Era and California Indian Removals. Reservations - Hoopa Valley, Round Valley, Smith River, and Tule River established by 1867. Dawes Act 1887. Indian Reform Act 1934.

1906 - 1928 California treaties rediscovered 1906. Rancherias created from 1906-1928 & after 1934.

1928 California Indians Jurisdiction Act of 1928. Special Indian Census in 1928 with degree of Indian blood. 1950 &1970 Census. BIA agencies conducted census in their areas.


1958-1970 117 California reservations, rancherias and trust lands listed on 1953 U.S. House Report. 1958 Indian Rancheria Act. Termination of Federal Services and Trust status for 41 Rancherias in 1958. Five more Rancherias terminated in 1960, 1966 and 1970.

1969-1971 Indian Resistance. Occupations of Alcatraz 1969-1971, Public Utility campground by Pit River Indians, etc. Established D-Q University and Indian Studies Programs at University of San Francisco, Berkeley, UCLA. Indian Education Act, 1972.

70,000 California Indians received $668.51 each for claim cases on unratified treaties.

1983 Tillie Hardwick, Pomo, won class-action suit, restored recognition to 17 rancherias.


CALIFORNIA INDIAN COUNTRY: Rejuvenation of Cultures, Languages & Recognition

California Indians celebrated voter approval of Proposition 5, The Tribal Government Gaming and Self-Sufficiency Act in early November 1998. Indian gaming is another victory in the over 450-year-old struggle for California Indian survival. There is a rejuvenation of lost languages, traditions and federal recognition. Tribes documented as extinct by anthropologists and historians are called the Unacknowledged Tribes. These bands or tribes are landless due to the omission of the BIA and the U.S. Congress to designate land holdings for the Ohlone, Esselen, Coast Miwok, Central Valley Yokuts, Yosemite Area Indians, Mutsun, and Salinan Indians. Terminated tribes are still fighting for reinstatement. Reservations or rancherias, a unique California institution, were established for a specific tribe or band. Others were established for landless Indians, but many without reservation affiliation were given public domain allotments. However, due to the works of tribal scholars, writers, artists and leaders there is a renaissance in California Indian Country, sup-ported by legislation (Native American Languages Act) and the native, non-native academic communities.


This section includes several listings on California Indians and a BIA map. The status of 106 Federally Recognized Tribal Entities of California is compiled from the Federal Register. Tribes and BIA offices from other Indian guides update this list. Terminated tribes, Unrecognized tribes and BIA area offices and agencies are also listed. The BIA Map of California illustrates only the location and names of 100 Federally Recognized Rancherias and Reservations under the Sacramento Area Office.