The California Valley Miwok Tribe is a federally recognized tribe of Miwok people in San Joaquin County and Calaveras County, California. The California Valley Miwok are Sierra Miwok, an indigenous people of California.
Official Tribal Name:California Valley Miwok Tribe
Official Website: www.CaliforniaValleyMiwok.com
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Traditional Name: Sierra Miwok
Common Name: Sheep Ranch Rancheria
Meaning of Common Name:
Alternate names / Alternate spellings / Misspellings:
Formerly known as the Sheep Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California. Alternately known as the Sheep Ranch Rancheria. Mewan.
Name in other languages:
State(s) Today: California
The Plains and Sierra Miwok (the Miwok of the Sacramento Valley and the Sierra Nevada), are a group that was once the largest group of Miwok Native American people. They lived in Northern California on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada between the Fresno and Cosumnes rivers and also in the Central Valley of California in the north portion of the Delta area, where the Cosumnes, Mokelumne, and Sacramento rivers converge.
The Sheep Valley Rancheria was established in 1916 and is currently a cemetery.
Land Area: .92 acres
Time Zone: Pacific
Population at Contact:
Alfred L. Kroeber estimated there were 9,000 Plains and Sierra Miwok combined in 1770, but this is an arguably low estimate. Richard Levy estimated there were 17,800 collectively. In 1848 their population was estimated at 6,000, in 1852 at 4,500, in 1880 at 100, and in 1910 the population was estimated at 670. There were only 12 persons in the California Valley Miwok Tribe when the Sheep Valley Rancheria was established in 1916.
Registered Population Today:
There are only five members of this tribe at the present time (2013).
Tribal Enrollment Requirements:
Name of Governing Body:
Number of Council members: 2
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers: Chairperson, Secretary-Treasurer
Number of fluent Speakers:
Bands, Gens, and Clans
There were four definite regional and linguistic Miwok sub-divisions: Plains Miwok, Northern Sierra Miwok, Central Sierra Miwok, and Southern Sierra Miwok.
Ceremonies / Dances:
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
Legends / Oral Stories:
The record of myths, legends, tales, and histories from the Sierra Miwok is one of the most extensive in the state of California.
Art & Crafts:
The Miwok are known for their beautifully woven baskets.
Photo By Urban, GFDL via Wikimedia Commons
The Sierra Miwok lived by hunting and gathering, and lived in small local tribes, without centralized political authority.
Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
The original Sierra Miwok world view included Shamanism. One form this took was the Kuksu religion that was evident in Central and Northern California, which included elaborate acting and dancing ceremonies in traditional ceremonial outfits, an annual morning ceremony, puberty rites of passage, shamanic intervention with the spirit world, and an all-male society that met in subterranean dance rooms.
Kuksu was shared with other indigenous ethnic groups of Central California, such as the Pomo, Maidu, Ohlone, Esselen, and northernmost Yokuts.
Miwok mythology is similar to other natives of Central and Northern California. The Sierra Miwok believe in animal and human spirits, and see the animal spirits as their ancestors. Coyote is seen as their ancestor and creator god.
Miwok Chiefs and Leaders:
The towns of Marysville and Honey Lake paid bounties for Indian scalps. Shasta City offered five dollars for every Indian head brought to city hall. And California’s state treasury reimbursed many of the local governments for their expenses.
There were some 150,000 Indians in California before the Forty-niners came. By 1870, there would be fewer than 30,000. It was the worst slaughter of Indian peoples in United States history.The video below gives more details about these atrocities.
The Sheep Ranch Tribe is a federally recognized, California Indian tribe that was established in 1915 by a land acquisition act of the U.S. government for homeless Indians. Of the original 12 individuals who were identified as members, Peter Hodge was listed as “the leading member of this little band.
Over the decades, various Indians (individuals and families) came and went to and from the Rancheria reservation, with the Hodge family being the primary residents through Mable Hodge Dixie and her son, Yakima Kenneth Dixie.
Also, in 1936, Jeff Davis is recorded as having voted for the Indian Reorganization Act; and it is documented that in the 1950’s the Carsoner family (Velma, Iva, Antone, Tom, Barbara, Cecelia, Linda, and Andrew) were raised on the reservation.
In 1996, Mable Hodge Dixie was identified by the government as the sole authority for the Tribe. By Miwok tradition, upon her death in 1971, the Chieftainship passed to her eldest son, Richard Dixie; and upon his death in 1975, the Chieftainship passed to the second eldest son, Yakima Dixie, who contines in that position today.
In 1998, upon the recommendations of the BIA, Mr. Dixie gave tribal status to one Silvia Burley, who is a distant relative, so that she might obtain medical and educational benefits for herself and her daughters that accrue to Indians through government programs. In return, Ms. Burley was supposed to help Mr. Dixie organize the Tribe.
Instead, she had the authority for the Tribe conveyed to herself and redirected huge sums of money to herself and her family – disenfranchising Mr. Dixie and all other rightful members of the Tribe.
In 1999, Mr. Dixie accidentally discovered his substitution; and the rightful authority for the Tribe has been in dispute since then. In February 2005, the BIA in Washington, D.C. determined that the issue of authority should be resolved by the formal organization the Tribe and that this process be supervised under the auspices of the BIA.
On November 6 2006, the local Agency of the Bureau issued a Notice that the organization would proceed; and that is where the matter stands at this time. Ms. Burley appealed that Notice.
In 2007, the Bureau of Indian Affairs had recommended that the Central California BIA superintendent should “assist” the tribe establishing its new government; however, Larry Echohawk, then Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, declared that the tribe does not need BIA oversight and can organize its own government, ratify a new constitution, and create its own criteria and procedures for tribal enrollment.
In December of 2011, the US Federal Government reaffirmed its formal recognition of the California Valley Miwok Tribe.
In the News:
The Dawn of the World: Myths and Tales of the Miwok Indians of California
American Indian Food (Food in American History)
Indian Basketry, and How To Make Indian & Other Baskets
California Indian Languages