THE NORTHERN SIERRA MIWOK PEOPLE

The Northern Sierra Miwok people inhabited the foothill areas between the Cosumnes River and the Calaveras River.  The exact boundary along each of these rivers isn't exact and that the aboriginal boundaries most likely included both sides of the river or certain forks of the rivers and most likely changed over time from disputes with neighboring people.  The Northern Sierra Miwok are not a tribal group, rather it is a linguistic grouping similar to how Spanish is a linguistic branch of Latin.  The people north of the Cosumnes River spoke a dialect of Nisenan and people south of the Calaveras river spoke a dialect of Central Sierra Miwok.  Aboriginally, the area of the Northern Sierra Miwok was inhabited by numerous different tribal groups.  Each tribal group included the heirarchial family group, which was based on patrilineal descent, and groups of people intermarried into the patrilineal group.  It is estimated that each tribal group's land was 5-10 miles in radius, depending on the geography, and included multiple village locations.  There really isn't a lot of information available on the aboriginal tribal groups and how they were related to one another in Northern Sierra Miwok territory.

By the time anthropologists started to take notice of how the Northern Sierra Miwok formed tribal groups, there were merely remnants of tribal groups left who had refuged together for survival purposes.  Even though many of the Northern Sierra Miwok people had moved around and some moved from their aboriginal homelands, many of them still remembered where their families origined.  Today most Northern Sierra Miwok descendants don't know their aboriginal tribal groups or their aboriginal homelands thanks to the massive disruption caused by the Missions, the gold rush, and assimilation efforts of the early 1900s.

In 1915, John J. Terrell conducted a census in Ione which has become an important document for membership criteria of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians.  To learn more about the people who were on this census click here.

In time, more information will be added regarding other Northern Sierra Miwok people.