FEDERATED INDIANS OF GRATON RANCHERIA
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

  • The Graton Rancheria community is a federation of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo groups recognized as a tribe by the US Congress. The Miwok of west Marin County have, through the years, been referred to as Marshall Indians, Marin Miwok, Tomales, Tomales Bay, and Hookooeko. The Bodega Miwok (aka, Olamentko) traditionally lived in the area of Bodega Bay. The neighboring Southern Pomo Sebastopol group lived just north and east of the Miwok. The town of Sebastopol is located about one mile midway between the north boundary of Miwok territory and the southern edge of Southern Pomo territory.
  • The earliest historical account of Coast Miwok peoples was by a priest accompanying Sir Francis Drake in 1579. Early descriptions by Spanish and Russian voyagers in 1595, 1775, 1793, and 1808 prove these Indian peoples continued to live in this area over the ensuing centuries.
  • Colonial Spain claimed title to all Indian lands in this area. Spanish missions in San Francisco, San Rafael, and Sonoma used Indians, including Coast Miwok and Southern Pomos for labor. Extensive mission records are useful in proving Native cultural and genealogical presence and persistence.
  • At the end of the Mission Period (1769-1834) Indian people were kept in servitude by Mexican land grant owners all across the confiscated tribal territories. During Mexican occupation a Coast Miwok, Camilo Ynitia, obtained a land grant for Olompali, the site of a large Coast Miwok village extant from prehistoric times and today it is an important historic site.
  • In 1835 when the Mexican government secularized the Church, the San Rafael Christian Indians were granted 20 leagues (80,000 acres) of mission lands at Nicasio. By 1850, confiscation of land by non-Indians had quickly reduced these Indian lands to a single league.
  • By 1880 there were 36 Indian people at Nicasio but the population was persuaded to leave when funds were cut to all Indians (except those at Marshall) who were not living at the Poor Farm, a place for "indigent" peoples.
  • In the late 1800s, Indian people of this area were employed as farm workers. Although the work was seasonal and itinerant, Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo preferred to work in Marin and Sonoma counties. Bodega Miwok, William Smith, and his relatives founded the commercial fishing industry in the Bodega area. One family continued as commercial fishers into the 1970s, while another family maintained an oyster harvesting business.
  • 1905 to 1936: Reports by scholars and by the Bureau of Indian Affairs demonstrate Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo continued to live in Marin and Sonoma even though deprived of their land by non-Indians.
  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs bought a 15-acre tract near Graton to be the "village home" of the Marshall, Bodega, Tomales and Sebastopol Indians in 1920. The government consolidated these neighboring groups into the Graton Rancheria thus establishing them as federally recognized tribes of American Indians.
  • Graton Rancheria was removed from federal trust in 1958 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs by distributing its assets to only three residents as private property. This action terminated federal recognition a tribe of American Indians. The termination was done in the absence of, and without the consent of the tribal members.
  • Since contact with Europeans through today, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have held together socially, politically, geographically and through frequent intermarriage. They are recognized as a coherent Indian group by academics, outside Indian groups, the federal and state governments, and local agencies.
  • Currently, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria prove their lineage as California Indians by their having roll numbers on the 1933 Census Roll of the Indians of California, the 1955 California Combined Roll, and the 1972 California Indian Judgment Rolls. Members born since the last roll (1969) document lineage with birth and baptismal certificates.
  • In 1997 the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria applied for restoration of tribal status by the Congress of the United States by submitting a bill to reinstate federal recognition of tribal status thus redressing the 1958 land distribution.
  • After scrutiny by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and approval by the US Congress, on December 27, 2000, federal status was restored to the Tribe as President Clinton signed the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act which restored to the Tribe, all of their rights and privileges including the right to trust land.