Home ] Services ] Publications ] Links ] Forum ] About ] [E-mail HG]


Heidelberg Graphics home page


Search site for:

More Information

The Indians of Chico Rancheria by Dorothy J. Hill
 History of Indians, mostly Mechoopda, before and after they were relocated to Chico Rancheria.

About the publisher

The Indians of Chico Rancheria was first published by the State of California Resources Agency, Department of Parks and Recreation in 1978. After the book went out of print the author, Dorothy Hill, decided to start a publishing company, Ka Ca Ma Press, and reprint her book as the first title. Ka Ka Ma was named after her three daughters: Kathy, Carol and Maggie.

Top of page

Comments from the author

The history of the first residents of the area, the Indians, raises two questions. First, what was the nature of the aboriginal culture before white contact in the area? Second, how was the indigenous lifestyle changed during the years after the Indians were relocated to Chico Rancheria on General Bidwell's 22,214-acre Arroyo Rancho Chico?

The Indians of Chico Rancheria were not exclusively one tribe or tribelet, although the majority of members were of the Mechoopda tribelet, a part of thee Northwestern Maidu group. The Mechoopda  originally had lived in the area described by Kroeber as extending from Dayton to the east side of Little Chico Creek. They were thus Bidwell's most immediate neighbors. Other members of the rancheria were Maidu from Oroville and Konkau as well as Wintun and Yana from west and north of Chico respectively.

When Bidwell first moved onto the Rancho, he may have found that it earlier supported several villages. In 1883 older Indians of Chico Rancheria directed Bidwell to the "old rancheria" called Paque on lower Chico Creek. When C. Hart Merriam did his field work in 1923, an Indian elder of the area named many Indian villages on the rancho. One of these, west of the confluence of Mud Creek with Big Chico Creek, which Merriam referred to as Paki, Pake, Paiki, or Pankem, might be the same site as noted by Bidwell. How long the Indians had occupied these villages bordering the streams of Big Chico Creek, Lindo Channel, and the lower reaches of Mud, Rock and Pine Creeks will remain unknown until archaeological testing and dating are done.

After their relocation to Rancho Chico, about 1849, the Indians of Chico Rancheria were offered protection because Bidwell's need of a labor force on his large ranch. Their safety was in contrast to Indians in the remainder of Butte County, most of whom lost their lives as well as their land. Instead of honoring the territory given the Indians of Butte County by the U.S. Treaty of 1851, many citizens either killed or rounded up the Indians for the U.S. Army which in 1863 drove them to a reservation at Round Valley, Mendocino County. Many Indians filtered back into the county, but few found areas isolated enough for them to settle in safety.

The year 1868 marked the beginning of another great change in the lives of the Indians of Rancho Chico, for that is the year that Annie E. K. Bidwell arrived as the bride of John Bidwell. During the next fifty years, her work with the Indians brought many changes to the rancheria.

After the deaths of John Bidwell in 1900 and Annie E. K. Bidwell in 1918, home lots on Chico Indian Reservation land were willed to families employed on the Rancho. For 46 years after Mrs. Bidwell's death, the rancheria land was held in three different trusteeships because Indians could not legally own land. In 1964 the Indians received title to their lots, and most sold them as sites for apartment houses and community businesses. This marked an end to the Chico Rancheria. Before the Indians left the area or passed away, the time seemed right to research the questions stated above.

Data was obtained in the course of four years of field work, from personal interviews with residents of the rancheria, and from archival research throughout California and Washington, D.C.

The main sources of documentary materials for this study include the Bancroft Library at university of California, Berkeley; Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park, Chico; Butte County Library, Oroville; California Room of the California State Library, Sacramento; California State University at Chico Library; Chico City Library; Federal Archives in San Bruno; Huntington Library in San Marino; Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.; and the State Archives in Sacramento.

There appeared a need to compile the date from these scattered sources into a single work that would be useful to students, scholars, and interested persons. This book, a revision of the 1970 CSUC thesis, Indians of Chico Rancheria: An Ethnohistoric Study will help serve this need. A useful related study is Maidu Use of Flora and Fauna, published in 1972. --from introduction by Dorothy J. Hill

Top of page

Order The Indians of Chico Rancheria by Dorothy J. Hill

Home ] Ordering ] Reviews ] Contents ] [ Other ] [Top of Page]

For best viewing use Internet Explorer set at 800 x 600. Click here to download.

This site is copyright 2002 by Heidelberg Graphics, Chico, California

E-mail Heidelberg Graphics

Hit Counter