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Tribal History

Our Heritage

How the Rancheria was Formed

For thousands of years, the Miwok and the Maidu people lived in peace and hormony throughout the entire Sacramento area and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Each tribe had its own customs, traditions and history.

The arrival of the Gold Rush era in 1849 severely impacted these tribal nations living serenely in the foothills. Miners quickly invaded the region, forcing many members into hard labor in their own homeland. Some tribal members moved their families away, seeking safety in other areas.

On December 16, 1916, the Secretary of the Interior purchased the Shingle Springs Rancheria at the request of the Sacramento-Verona Band of Miwok Indians, the reservation actually resides within Southern Maidu, or Nisenan, territory. In fact, the Rancheria is situated in the heart of a hill and mountain call Nisenan.

Today's members of the Shingle Springs Rancheria are decendents of the Miwok and Maidu Indians who once lived in this region. They continue the ways of their ancestors, honoring and protecting the Earth for future generations.



The Natural World

Miwok-Maidu shamans would collect and use many plants for health care. They had to be careful, however, because during certain seasons some of the plants were poisonous.

For example, oak tree galls were chewed as toothpaste. The shamans would brew a tea and give it to members as a cure for kidney stones. They would also age acorn mush, then scrape off a mildew like substance and use it as an antibiotic.

Yarrow leaves and flowers were used to treat colds and influenza and the mashed leaves were applied to wounds to stop the pain. There were several plant remedies for digestive ailments, such as Monkey Flower and White Leaf Manzanita.

The Miwok-Maidu would also gather and spread leaves on the floor of their huts for cushioning. The bay leaves would discourage insect pests from moving in as well. These plants are just a few of the hundreds used for food, clothing and shelter.


Tribal Communities

One with the Land

The Miwok-Maidu occupied areas from the Pacific Coast to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

They knew and blended with this bountiful land for thousands of years, developing a rich economy based on gathering, fishing and hunting. Communities developed in sheltered places near fresh water and plentiful food.



The Miwok Shaman

The shaman, or medicine man or woman, held a number of roles in the tribe. The shaman was a spiritual leader; able to perform rituals and communicate with the spirit world. The shaman was a physician; charged with healing the members of the tribe. The shaman was also a pharmacist, with an extensive knowledge of plants and their affects on the body.

A shaman would many times experience manifestations of spiritual power at an early age either through dreams or visions. Although all people had spiritual energy, the shaman had it to a higher degree, and would train his or her power through extended prayer, meditation, fasting and exposure, or by using plants to create trances and communicate with the spirit world.

Because the Miwok-Maidu depended a great deal on ritual shamans played a central role in the tribe. The shaman was believed to have the power to predict the future and start the rains. The shaman was also charged with curing the ills of the mind and body, and would pray chant and use healing spells to extract the sickness from tribal members.



Tongues of the Past

The Miwok-Maidu spoke versions of the Penutian language, which was spoken by a number of tribes in California. The Miwok-Maidu had complex and extensive vocabularies to describe the world around them.

As our tribe came together and struggled to survive, our language was slowly lost. Today, we are working to save our language so that we can share it with future generations. Here is a sample of some of the words of our ancestors, prounounced using approximate English spellings.

Chief: HOYPU

Female ceremonial leader: MAAYEN

Mortar cups in rock: CHAW'SE

Acorn(s): MOO-YOO

Black Oak: TEL-LEE-LIE


Grizzly Bear: OOSOO-MA-TIE (thought to be the origin of "Yosemite")

Earth (World): WALL-LIE


Moon: KO-MAY




Person: MI-WOK

Kin, people: NI-SEN-AN

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