Millard Fillmore and the Indians of California

Some of the most interesting stuff of history can only be found accidentally.   You don’t know what you don’t know, and so the only way to find it is to stumble into it in the dark.

Pamela Bumsted sent me a link to this site, which describes the travails of the Winnemem Wintu, a band of people native to the area of California from Sacramento, going north.  It is an American Indian tribe, except under the view of the U.S. government.

Their troubles relate to their giving up claims to their traditional lands in a treaty with the U.S. government, during the administration of Millard Fillmore.  Alas for the Winnemem Wintu, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Senate, and their own claims to their own lands fell out of law and out of history.

In the 1851 Treaty at Cottonwood Creek, the Winnemem (represented by the signature of Numterareman), along with other Wintu bands, ceded a vast territory from Sacramento to near the Oregon border to the United States in exchange for a 25-square-mile reservation along the Sacramento River. The California legislature lobbied against the treaty to the U.S. Senate which, in turn, pressured President Millard Fillmore to refuse ratification of any of the 18 treaties signed “in peace and friendship.” As a consequence, the Winnemem never got their reservation and started losing their traditional lands to encroaching settlement and the designation of the Shasta National Forest in 1906.

Eighteen treaties were not ratified by the Senate?  Which 18?  What happened to those bands? Were they all California bands?

We know the Winnemem Wintu are fighting for recognition  now.  What happened to the other 17 nations, and the other 17 treaties?  Got resources?  List them in comments


5 Responses to Millard Fillmore and the Indians of California

  1. In response to j a higginbotham ” Just curious – was the 25 square mile reservation the Indians were getting in exchange for this vast area included in their original lands? ” From what I know the 25 sq mile reservation did not include the original lands.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Thank you, Mr. Franco.

    If you remember, could you drop by and let us know when anything happens on any front? I’m rather interested in how this works out for you, now.


  3. Mark Franco says:

    The 18 treaties of California that were not ratified covered over 100 plus tribes/nations in the state of California. The other tribes, those that were not part of the “landless” Indians who received rancherias, were left in the lurch following the Rancheria Act and then the determination that the rancherias were the tribes, excluding all the other Indians of California. The 109 “recognized” tribes make up approximately 40000 California Indians This is about 10 percent of the total number of Indians in the state who are without status, services or assistance.
    The area that Treaty H (made at Reading’s Ranch in 1851) did not include the land of the Winnemem which lies in the McCloud River watershed. The area in the treaty was further south, so the Winnemem refused to move and instead received allotments, later flooded by the Shasta Dam project. But that is another story (CVP Indian Land Acquisition Act 55stat612 – took the allotment lands but did not deliver the promised exchanges).


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Don’t know. Why not contact them and ask?


  5. j a higginbotham says:

    Just curious – was the 25 square mile reservation the Indians were getting in exchange for this vast area included in their original lands?


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