North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians

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North Folk Mono Rancheria

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History & Timeline



• Prehistory: Ancestors of the Tribe are key players in the interactive regulation of the material, ceremonial, and intellectual wealth of the San Joaquin Valley’s tribes.

• 1806: Native villages in the San Joaquin Valley, including both the flat plains and foothills, are raided by the Spanish and tribal residents either flee further into the foothills and mountains or forced to serve as neophytes to the missions along the coast.

• 1830s: Native subsistence patterns are changed forever after the Mexican government, responding to a severe drought, orders thousands of horses to be driven into the San Joaquin Valley to survive on their own. This event, which transformed the ecology of the Valley, is followed by a malaria epidemic in 1832 to 1833 which, together with other factors, kills nearly three-quarters of the Native population between 1800 and 1850.

• 1848: California becomes a state. A year later, the gold rush begins and the San Joaquin Valley foothills soon become the heart of gold country.

• 1850: California passes the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. Popularly known as the California Slave Act, it essentially allows the indenture of Native children and so-called “vagrant” adults under certain conditions. Although the law is repealed following the end of the Civil War in 1867, kidnapping and “sale” of Native people, particularly women and children, continues.

• 1851: Federal treaty commissioners are sent first to the San Joaquin Valley and then elsewhere in California to negotiate treaties to reduce the violence resulting from the rapid influx of non-Natives. The federal commissioners sign 18 treaties with California tribes which set aside 8.5 million acres for reservations. San Joaquin Valley tribes negotiate four separate treaties. Three of these treaties, including one which expressly set aside lands for ancestors of the Tribe, set aside lands on the Valley floor in the vicinity of the modern day City of Madera. However, the United States Senate refuses to ratify the treaties based on objections from the California Legislature. The treaties, which have become known as the “lost treaties,” are placed under an injunction of secrecy until 1905. In addition, the California Land Claims Act of March 3, 1851, is enacted, effectively denying California tribes of any legal interest in either their aboriginal lands or in the lands reserved by treaty. By 1853, California tribes are rendered landless.

• 1853: Congress approves the establishment of five permanent reservations for California Indians, which results in the creation of the Fresno Indian Reservation, or Fresno River Farm, as one of the reserves.

• 1857: Indian Agent Martin B. Lewis reports that several hundred Monos visit and recognize the Fresno River Farm, making the Mono the largest group identified on the reserve.

• 1860: The Fresno River Farm is closed and federal assistance is discontinued. Native people of the San Joaquin Valley, including ancestors of the Tribe, fall under the jurisdiction of the Tule River Reservation over 100 miles away, but most instead try to remain on their lands.

• 1860-early 1900’s: Ancestors of the Tribe are pushed further into the foothills while continuing to travel to the Valley floor and back into the foothills, working picking grapes, herding sheep, and for timber.

• 1890’s: The BIA begins making a limited number of land allotments to Native ancestors of the Tribe. Most lands allotted to the tribe come from National Forest Lands.

• 1906: The U.S. Congress begins appropriating money for the purchase of small tracts of land for landless Indians in California.

• 1916: Eighty acres of land are placed in trust “for the use of the North Fork band of landless Indians.” Like the prior allotments, the rocky soil and precipitous landscape made the parcels unsuitable for farming, and able to support only a few families.

• 1958: The U.S. Congress enacts the Rancheria Act that terminates federal trusteeship and recognition of 41 California tribes, including the federally recognized status and lands of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

• 1979: California Indian Legal Services files a class action suit on behalf of Tillie Hardwick and 16 other individual Indians against the federal government, claiming the government failed to make clear provisions of the Rancheria Act and fell short of promises for public improvements.

• 1983: The federal government agrees to settle the Tillie Hardwick suit by restoring federal recognition of each of the 17 tribes represented in the suit, including the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

• 1987: As part of the Tillie Hardwick litigation, the court approves a subsequent settlement with Madera County which restores the original Rancheria boundaries and declares all lands within the boundaries to be “Indian Country.” The federal government subsequently takes the lands into trust for the benefit of 6 individual Indians.

• 1993: The North Fork Tribal Council is formed.

• 1994: The Tribe opens a tribal office in rented office space.

• 1996: Tribal citizens adopt the Constitution of the North Fork Rancheria and open enrollment to eligible ancestral descendents of the Northfork Mono. (Today, the Tribe is among the largest tribes in California with more than 1,370 tribal citizens.)

• 1997: The North Fork Rancheria Indian Housing Authority is created to provide housing for tribal citizens and receives the first in a series of annual tribal housing grants from the Department of Urban Housing and Development (HUD).

• 2000: The Tribe purchases land with HUD funds for the development of tribal housing and a tribal community center. Construction of the first phase begins in 2004.

• 2001: The Tribe receives a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develop a solid waste management plan and a wetland protection plan.

• 2003: The North Fork Rancheria begins operating its a Tribal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, becoming the only Mono tribe, and the only tribe in Central California to assume responsibility for ensuring that low income Indian families with minor children residing within the counties of Fresno and Madera receive essential governmental services. By operating its own Tribal TANF program (rather than as part of a tribal consortium), the Tribe agrees to shoulder this responsibility and relieve the state and local governments of this burden. In addition to assuming the financial responsibility, the Tribe also, and more importantly, assumes the primary responsibility to help families break the cycle of poverty by promoting self-sufficiency through education and cultural awareness.

• 2004: In March, the Tribe announces its intention to develop a gaming and entertainment resort to help achieve self-sufficiency for its tribal citizens and bring responsible development opportunities to the Madera community.

• 2004: In August, the Tribe subsequently agrees to provide millions in one-time contributions and $4 million dollars annually to the County of Madera pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding. The Madera County Board of Supervisors unanimously agrees to enter into the MOU following two well-attended public meetings.

• 2004: In October, the Bureau of Indian Affairs publishes a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) —the most rigorous level of environmental review under the applicable federal law--for the proposed trust acquisition.

• 2006: The Tribe signed a MOU with the City of Madera in October, 2006, which includes additional voluntary contributions of more than $27.8 million over 20 years to City to fund projects that will improve the lives of Madera residents and mitigate possible impacts of proposed development.

• 2006: In December, 2006, the North Fork Rancheria signed a MOU with the MID which including mechanisms to offset water-related impacts of proposed development.

• 2008: The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) released the draft EIS for public comment in February of 2008. Shortly thereafter, a public hearing of the casino’s environmental study was held at Hatfield Hall at the Madera County Fairgrounds.

• 2010: Final EIS released

• 2011: Department of the Interior releases affirmative "two-part" determination for the project.

• 2012: Governor Brown provides gubernatorial "concurrence" to DOI "two-part" decision

• 2012: Governor Brown signs state-tribal gaming compact

• 2012: DOI announces decision to place land into trust for project

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