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Miwok (also spelled Miwuk, Mi-Wuk, or Me-Wuk) can refer to any one of four linguistically-related groups of Native Americans, native to Northern California, who spoke one of the Miwokan languages in the Utian family. The word Miwok means people in their native language.

In 2008, ancient Miwok artifacts were unearthed, some as many as 5000 years old in Calaveras Countymarker. Many of the artifacts will be reburied with a special ceremony. Miwoks believe the artifacts belong to the land.


There are four geographically and culturally diverse ethnic subgroups of Miwok people:

Federally recognized tribes

The United Statesmarker Bureau of Indian Affairs officially recognizes eleven tribes of Miwok, Mi-Wuk or Me-Wuk descent in California, as follows:
  • Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
  • California Valley Miwok Tribe (formerly known as the Sheep Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians)
  • Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
  • Ione Band of Miwok Indians, of Ione
  • Jackson Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
  • Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, of Shingle Springs Rancheria (Verona Tract)
  • Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, of the Tuolumne Rancheria
  • United Auburn Indian Community, of the Auburn Rancheria
  • Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok
  • Middletown Rancheria (Members of this tribe are of Pomo, Lake Miwok, and Wintun descent)
  • Wilton Rancheria Indian Tribe

Non-federally recognized tribes

  • Miwok Tribe of the El Dorado Rancheria
  • Nashville-Eldorado Miwok Tribe
  • Colfax- Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe of the Colfax Rancheria
  • Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation
  • Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians


Generally, the Miwok were a hunting and gathering people who lived in small bands without centralized political authority before contact with European Americans in 1769. Generally, Miwok mythology and narratives are similar to other natives of Northern California. Miwok believe in animal and human spirits and see the animal spirits as their ancestors. Coyote was their ancestor and creator god.

In 1770, there was an estimated 500 Lake Miwok, 1,500 Coast Miwok, and 9,000 Plains and Sierra Miwok, totaling about 11,000 people, according to historian Alfred L. Kroeber, although this may be a serious undercount; for example, he did not identify the Bay Miwok. The 1910 Census reported only 670 Miwok total, and the 1930 Census, 491. See history of each Miwok group for more information.

The Sierra Miwok preferentially exploited acorns from the California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii; in fact, the modern day extent of the California Black Oak forests in some areas of Yosemite National Parkmarker is partially due to preferential cultivation by Miwok tribes, who burned understory vegeation as the tribes reduces the fraction of Ponderosa Pine.

See also


  1. Ancient Artifacts Found At Construction Site Retrieved: April 26, 2008
  2. Buena Vista Rancheria - Me-Wuk Indians
  3. California Valley Miwok Tribe (CVMT GovPortal) - Official Website of the California Valley Miwok Tribe
  4. California Valley Miwok Tribe (CVMT WebPortal)
  5. Ione Band of Miwok Indians
  6. Welcome — United Auburn Indian Community
  7. Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria
  8. Wilton Rancheria Announces Restoration of Status as Federally Recognized Indian Tribe (Sacramento Business Journal)
  9. Kroeber, 1925
  10. Cook, 1976, pages 236-245.
  11. C. Michael Hogan (2008) Quercus kelloggii,, ed. Nicklas Stromberg


  • Access Genealogy: Indian Tribal records, Miwok Indian Tribe. Retrieved on 2006-08-01. Main source of "authenticated village" names and locations.
  • Barrett, S.A. and Gifford, E.W. Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region. Yosemite Association, Yosemite National Park, California, 1933. ISBN 0-939666-12-X
  • Cook, Sherburne. The Conflict Between the California Indian and White Civilization. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1976. ISBN 0-520-03143-1.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Washington, D.C: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. (Chapter 30, The Miwok); available at Yosemite Online Library.
  • Silliman, Stephen. Lost Laborers in Colonial California, Native Americans and the Archaeology of Rancho Petaluma. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8165-2381-9.

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