THE NORTHERN SIERRA MIWOK
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.