Published on October 22, 2010 by John
Nomlaki Native Americans
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The Nomlaki Native American peoples historically occupied the central territory of the larger Wintun language group, consisting of the Wintu, Nomlaki, and Patwin indigenous peoples. Nomlaki is believed to be a interpretation of Ilmawi, meaning “western dwellers”. However, according to some members of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Ilmawi might be a Yahi/Yana word for their tribe. Elders indicate that “Nomlaki” is an English naturalization of the words “nom leaqah” which mean “Western Language” in reference to the specific dialect of the Central Wintun language that the Nomlaki speak. In support of this, ethnographer Walter Goldschmidt writes: “The term Nomlaki derives for the River Nomlaki name nomlaka ‘west language’, referring to those Hill Nomlaki on Thomes Creek…” (p. 347).
Historically, these indigenous peoples have also been referred to as the Nome Lacks, Nome Lackees, Numleki, Noamlakis, and Tehemas. The traditional Nomlaki Native American homeland encompassed the Western Sacramento River valley foothills and the summit of the Coast Range in present-day Tehema and Glenn counties of California. Prior to Euroamerican contact, the Nomlaki are estimated to have numbered over 2,000 people; today there are over 330 registered Nomlaki Native Americans on three rancherias. The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians received federal recognition in 1994.
Location: Northern California between the Western Sacramento River valley foothills and the summit of the Coast Range in present-day Glenn and Tehema counties.
Population: Prior to Euroamerican colonization around 2,000; today over 330 individuals.
Language Family: Penutian stock, Wintun family.
First Contact by Euroamericans: Some time in the early 1800s.