CHAPTER FOUR - CALIFORNIA INDIANS TODAY

 

New Term in this Chapter:

 

Federal recognition

 

To be accepted as a tribe by the United States government
     Three groups of California Indians exist today.
Those who are among the 10+ federally recognized tribes,
Those who are among the 40+ groups seeking federal recognition, and
Those who are not members of any formal organization, but are of California Indian descent.
      In addition, there is a large population of non-California Indians who have migrated into California from other states, Latin America, and Canada. The chapter will deal only with Indians who are descendants of California Indians.
      California’s federally recognized tribes all have reservations or rancherias, though not all of the various members of the tribes live on those reservations or rancherias. Many of the reservations and rancherias are very small, some being comprised of less than 25 acres. The two largest reservations are the Hoopa Valley Reservation totaling more than 85,000 acres or 12 square miles, and the Tule River Reservation (near Porterville) totaling over 53,000.
      Before the introduction of gaming on some California reservations, unemployment was 80%. Today, the reservations with casinos have 100% employment, and they are contributing much of their profits to improve conditions on all of the California reservations. Economic conditions are improving rapidly.
      Until now, even getting enough food on reservations that were in remote areas and on poor soil and often without water was difficult. Basic health care was non-existent. Some of the poorest people in California lived on the reservations.
      Many of the federally recognized tribes have undertaken ambitious programs to preserve their history and culture, and to educate not only their children about their histories, but to educate the entire school-age population of the state. Their hard work has resulted in the passing of AB 1953 that establishes California Indian History Day on the last Friday of September. They hold public cultural events on their reservations, including big times, fiestas, ceremonies, and pow wows to which the public is invited.
      The reservation tribal governments are formed in accordance with the federal Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This means that each reservation is governed by a tribal council elected by the members of the tribe.
      All is not so well for those 40 groups seeking federal recognition. Federal law outlines conditions that must be satisfied for a group to become a federally recognized tribe. The most difficult relates to history. Groups had to be tribes when the United States took possession of California. That was in 1850 when the United States expelled Mexico from California. But gold was discovered in 1848, and in 1849 thousands of prospectors poured into California seeking gold. Gold was most easily found along the rivers where the Indians lived, and, many prospectors attacked the Indians, driving them from their lands and diffusing the tribes. The tribes did not reassemble until long after California became part of the United States.
      The federal law also states that the group had to have remained a tribe from 1850 until present, and that its leaders had to have political control over its members during that time. These are very difficult conditions to satisfy.
      Those who are not members of any formal organization, but are of California Indian descent comprise a substantial population. Many groups simply can never meet the federal conditions required to be federally recognized. Many unrecognized ethnies have no organization pursuing recognition. Many other people have no desire to become federally recognized. Such is the case of a large Chumash population in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

 

Pow Wows
      Today, California Indians often join Indian peoples who have migrated from other states in social events called pow wows. There they dance and enjoy each other’s company. Though most pow wow participants dress and dance in the form and methods of the Plains cultures, they are very respectful of the cultures of the California Indians. Every weekend all over California pow wows are taking place.
      Some California tribes have annual events celebrating their own cultures. Many call their annual celebrations "Big Times." Others hold annual events like the Cahuilla Fiesta and the Yokuts Bear Dance.

 

Traditional Lands
      Every square inch of California was once owned by an Indian ethnie. This includes where you live. Today, the California Indians occupy only a small portion of the state. Many live on reservations or small reservations called rancherias. Many others now live in the cities, suburbs, and rural areas just as you do.
      Today the Indians of California are no longer hunter-gatherers, but have jobs and professions just like your parents. They drive cars, read books, watch television, go to the grocery store, and enjoy the movies just like anyone else.
      But just as it is important for you to remember your history and traditions, it is likewise important to California Indians. They took care of California for thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans.
      Many archeological sites have been preserved that give us insight into how they lived. Many places that are sacred to the California Indians have been preserved and others have not. Many of the stories have been preserved. Yuroks and Hupas still dance the Jump Dance. Yokuts still hold the Bear Dance. Cahuillas, Serranos, and Luiseños still sing the Bird Songs. Members of the California Indian Storytellers still tell the stories. Members of the California Indian Basket weavers still weave the baskets. The schools of California now teach the history of The First Californians.

 

ASSIGNMENT:  Review California Cultures with Cities Inserted

 

Chapter Four Quiz:
1. How many federally recognized rancherias and reservations are there in California?

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2. Which is the largest reservation in California?  ______________________
3. Yes or no, are the advent of casinos a major reason for the improved standard of living for Indians in California?

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4. How many groups are there in California seeking federal recognition?

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5. What ethnie originally lived where you live?  _________________________
6. What ethnie originally owned San Francisco?

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7. What ethnie originally owned San Diego?

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8. What ethnie originally owned Los Angeles?

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9. What ethnie originally owned Santa Barbara?

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10. What ethnie originally owned the land around Lake Tahoe?

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