Published on September 22, 2013 by Amy
The Ione Band of Miwok Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Miwok people in Amador County, California.
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The Ione Band conducts business from Plymouth, California. The tribe is led by an elected council. The current tribal administration is as follows.
Miwok people lived in over a hundred villages along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, as well as north of the San Francisco Bay area east into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Ione Miwok oral history says the tribe comes from the Buena Vista Peaks, south of Ione, California, when the Sacramento Valley was covered by water.
European contact came in the 19th century, when Spanish explorers descended upon Miwok lands. They enslaved thousands of Indians. Smallpox and other epidemics hit the Miwok between 1820 and 1840. John Sutter built his fort in 1839 and continued enslaving Indians. He raided around Ione. The 1848-50 California Gold Rush bought an onslaught of non-Native people into the region.
Spurred by the violence created by the newcomers onto indigenous Californians’ lands, the United States federal government negotiated three treaties with the Ione Miwok. The US Congress never ratified the treaties, and the public did not learn about them until 1905. Pushed off their ancestral lands and denied human rights or protection, the Ione Miwok were forced to work as laborers and ranch hands to survive.
A 1915 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) census revealed 101 homeless Miwok people living around Ione. These would become the Jackson Rancheria, Buena Vista Rancheria, and Ione Band of Miwok Indians. The US tried and failed to create a 40-acre Indian rancheria for the Ione Miwok. Families settled on the land, and finally in 1972, the land was awarded to 12 individuals and other members of the Ione Miwok, but not collectively to the tribe. Negotiations and legal struggles over land ownership and tribal recognition continued for decades.
In 1994, Ada Deer wrote that the The Ione Band of Miwok Indians was in fact recognized by the federal government. The Ione Miwok elected a tribal council in 1996. They ratified a constitution that was approved by the BIA in 2002 and held another election in 2003.
In 2012, the BIA has approved an application by the tribe to put 228 acres of land in Amador County in trust.