Mono Indian Tribe of California

Published on October 22, 2010 by John

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17 Mono Indian Tribe Papoose Cradleboard

17″ Mono Indian Tribe
Papoose Cradleboard

The Mono are a Native American people who traditionally live in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Eastern Sierra (generally south of Bridgeport), the Mono Basin, and adjacent areas of the Great Basin.

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Culture and geography

Throughout recorded history, the Mono have also been known as “Mona,” “Monache,” or “Northfork Mono,” as labeled by E.W. Gifford, an ethnographer studying people in the vicinity of the San Joaquin River in the 1910s.

Today, many of the tribal citizens and descendents of the Mono tribe inhabit the town of North Fork (thus the label “Northfork Mono”) in Madera County. People of the Mono tribe are also spread across California in: the Owens River Valley; the San Joaquin Valley and foothills areas, especially Fresno County; and in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The two clans of the North Fork Mono Tribe are represented by the golden eagle and the coyote. Mono traditions still in practice today include fishing, hunting, acorn gathering, cooking, healing, basket making, and games. The Honorable Ron Goode is the Tribal Chairman for the North Fork Mono Tribe.

Ceremonies are performed at the Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork, California, and an annual Indian Fair Days festival takes place on the first weekend of August every year to revive many traditions and rituals for tribal kin and tourists alike to enjoy.

Tribal groups

The Mono are divided into the Eastern Mono and the Western Mono, roughly based on the Sierra crest. The Eastern Mono are also known as the Owens Valley Paiute.The Western Mono traditionally lived in the south-central Sierra Nevada foothills.

Eastern Mono (Owens Valley Paiute)

Big Pine Band of Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Indians of the Big Pine Reservation
Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Lone Pine Community of the Lone Pine Reservation
Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community of the Bishop Colony
[edit]Western Mono (Monache)
Big Sandy Rancheria of Mono Indians of California
Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California
Northfork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California
Table Mountain Rancheria of California
Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation


The Mono speak the Mono language, which is in the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The native language of the Mono people is referred to as “Nim”.

Mun a hoo e boso. Mun a hoo e num. Mun a hoo to e hun noh pa teh can be translated as “Hello to my friends. Hello to the Mono people. Hello to the people from all over.”


Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) suggested that the 1770 population of the Mono was 4,000. Sherburne F. Cook (1976:192) set the population of the Western Mono alone was about 1,800.

Kroeber reported the population of the Mono in 1910 as 1,500.

Today, there are approximately 2300 enrolled Mono Indians. The Cold Springs Mono have 275 tribal members.The Northfork Mono’s enrollment is 1800, making them one of California’s largest native tribes. The Big Sandy Mono have about 96 members. The Big Pine Band has 462 tribal members, but it is difficult to determine how many of these are Mono.

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