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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Miwok People
A Miwok house Reproduction
A Sierra Miwok cedar bark umuucha cabin reproduction in Yosemite Valley.[1]
Total population
1770: over 11,000
1910: 670
1930: 491
Regions with significant populations
California: Sierra Nevada Mountains, Central Valley, Marin County, Sonoma County, Lake County, Contra Costa County

Utian languages:
Miwok family


Shamanism: Kuksu
Miwok mythology

Related ethnic groups


Miwok (also spelled Miwuk, Mi-Wuk, or Me-Wuk) can refer to any one of four linguistically-related groups of Native Americans, native to Northern California, who spoke one of the Miwokan languages in the Utian family. The word Miwok means people in their native language.

In 2008, ancient Miwok artifacts were unearthed, some as many as 5000 years old in Calaveras County. Many of the artifacts will be reburied with a special ceremony. Miwoks believe the artifacts belong to the land.[2]



There are four geographically and culturally diverse ethnic subgroups of Miwok people:

The Miwok also ate fish, deer, berries, as well as acorns or flour.


Federally recognized tribes

The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs officially recognizes eleven tribes of Miwok, Mi-Wuk or Me-Wuk descent in California, as follows:

  • Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians[3]
  • California Valley Miwok Tribe (formerly known as the Sheep Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians)[4] [5]
  • Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
  • Ione Band of Miwok Indians, of Ione [6]
  • Jackson Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
  • Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, of Shingle Springs Rancheria (Verona Tract)
  • Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, of the Tuolumne Rancheria
  • United Auburn Indian Community, of the Auburn Rancheria[7]
  • Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok[8]
  • Middletown Rancheria (Members of this tribe are of Pomo, Lake Miwok, and Wintun descent)
  • Wilton Rancheria Indian Tribe [9]

Non-federally recognized tribes

  • Miwok Tribe of the El Dorado Rancheria
  • Nashville-Eldorado Miwok Tribe
  • Colfax- Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe of the Colfax Rancheria
  • Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation
  • Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians


The Miwok lived in small bands without centralized political authority before contact with European Americans in 1769. They had domesticated dogs and cultivated tobacco, but were otherwise hunter-gatherers.


The Sierra Miwok preferentially exploited acorns from the California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii; in fact, the modern day extent of the California Black Oak forests in some areas of Yosemite National Park is partially due to preferential cultivation by Miwok tribes, who burned understory vegetation in order to reduce the fraction of Ponderosa Pine.[10] Nearly every other kind of edible vegetable matter was exploited as a food source, including bulbs, seeds, and fungi. Animals were hunted with arrows, clubs or snares, depending on the species and the situation. Grasshoppers were a highly prized food source, as were mussels for those groups adjacent to the Stanislaus River.

The Miwok ate meals according to appetite rather than at regular times. They stored food for later consumption, primarily in flat-bottomed baskets.


Miwok mythology and narratives tend to be similar to those of other natives of Northern California. Miwok had totem animals, identified with one of two moieties, which were in turn associated respectively with land and water. These totem animals were not thought of as literal ancestors of humans, but rather as predecessors.[11]

Population size

In 1770, there was an estimated 500 Lake Miwok, 1,500 Coast Miwok, and 9,000 Plains and Sierra Miwok, totaling about 11,000 people, according to historian Alfred L. Kroeber, although this may be a serious undercount; for example, he did not identify the Bay Miwok. [11] The 1910 Census reported only 670 Miwok total, and the 1930 Census, 491. See history of each Miwok group for more information.[12]

See also



  • Access Genealogy: Indian Tribal records, Miwok Indian Tribe. Retrieved on 2006-08-01. Main source of "authenticated village" names and locations.
  • Barrett, S.A. and Gifford, E.W. Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region. Yosemite Association, Yosemite National Park, California, 1933. ISBN 0-939666-12-X
  • Cook, Sherburne. The Conflict Between the California Indian and White Civilization. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1976. ISBN 0-520-03143-1.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Washington, D.C: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. (Chapter 30, The Miwok); available at Yosemite Online Library.
  • Silliman, Stephen. Lost Laborers in Colonial California, Native Americans and the Archaeology of Rancho Petaluma. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8165-2381-9.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



Miwok means "the people" in the native Utian language.

Alternative spellings

Proper noun




  1. A linguistic group of indigenous people, native to central California.
  2. The Utian (Penutian) languages spoken by these groups.


  • 1925, Kroeber, Alfred, Handbook of Indians of California, Washington, D.C: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. (Chapter 30):
    "The Miwok pound acorns with pestles...."

Derived terms

External links


  • 1925, Kroeber, Alfred L. Handbook of the Indians of California. Washington, D.C: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. (Chapter 30, The Miwok); available at Yosemite Online Library.
  • 1976, Cook, Sherburne, The Conflict Between the California Indian and White Civilization. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1976. ISBN 0-520-03143-1.
  • 2004/6, Access Genealogy.com, Indian Tribal records, Miwok Indian Tribe (Online).


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