In 1992 the tribe was established as the Federated Coast Miwok; then upon restoration, renamed the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. The tribe consists of both
andpeople. Our tribal ancestors existed for thousands of years before us with territorial lands which include all of Marin and southern Sonoma counties.

The Coast Miwok are from the areas of Novato, Marshall, Tomales, San Rafael, Petaluma and Bodega. The Southern Pomo people are from the Sebastopol area. Many of the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo people still live within their ancestral territories.

The tribe was entrusted with land by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1920 which was a 15.45 acres tract in Graton, California. This land was known as the "village home" a place for landless Indians of the Marshall, Bodega and the Sebastopol area.

This land was then removed illegally from trust in 1958, and what remains today is a 1 acre parcel which is called the . At the present time only one Coast Miwok tribal family resides there and holds this 1 acre of land in private ownership.

We are still here... And live within this modernized world, determined to keep our traditions and culture alive. Our current membership is 1,000 strong. Each tribal member can be traced and is documented to the original 14 ancestors of the tribe. We honor our elders and also the children who are the next generation, and our future.

  1579 - Was the earliest recorded account made by the Europeans of the Coast Miwok people on the coast of Marin. This was documented in a diary by Chaplain Fletcher who was aboard Sir Frances Drake’s ship. This diary was later published in 1628 by Drake’s nephew, also named Frances Drake.

1579-1809 The Spanish and Russian voyagers also provide additional information about encounters with the Coast Miwok and their occupancy of the area. A Russian outpost at Bodega Bay was established in 1809.
1779- 1823 The Mission Period. The Spanish missions and the Mexican occupancy impacted this area of California. Mission San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores), Mission San Rafael Archangel and Mission San Francisco Solano used Indians included the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo people as their labor source. Records from these missions are still used today to substantiate the Native culture and genealogical research. Even after the mission period, Indian people continued in servitude to the Mexican land grant owners throughout their confiscated land in their tribal territory.

1800 – 1880’s Land and Business Owners. Camilo Ynitia, a Coast Miwok, secured a land grant for Olompali near Novato. Olompali now a State Park was the site of a large Coast Miwok village predating back thousands of years prior to the historic Spanish/Mexican periods.

Nicasio is another important locale, located in Marin County northwest of San Rafael. After the mission period ended, a San Rafael church had granted the Indians of San Rafael 80,000 acres (20 leagues) of former mission lands. About 500 Indians had located there. By 1850 all this land was illegally confiscated with 1 league remaining. In 1880 the 36 Indian people remaining were persuaded to leave when Marin county stopped giving funds to any Indian who living at the poor farm, a place for “indigent” people.

Early 1900’s a commercial fishing industry was founded at Bodega Bay by William Smith and his Bodega Miwok family. Their business lasted up until the early 1970’s. The Smith Bros. wharf and warehouse was the first built at Bodega Bay and is now known as Lucas Wharf. A road in Bodega, the Smith Brothers Road, is named in honor of the brothers.

The Southern Pomo were the first inhabitants of what is now the town of Sebastopol. The territorial lands of the Southern Pomo of Sebastopol is in Sonoma County south of the Russian River to the southern Santa Rosa area. Although the Southern Pomo were the original people of Sebastopol they were considered “landless”, unlike the rest of the Southern Pomo northward that had reservations. Many of the Southern Pomo also lived in the town of Graton. Today many still live within their ancestral territory.

The Southern Pomo are well known for their baskets. And because Sebastopol borders so closely to the Coast Miwok territory there is substantial evidence of trading and traveling between the two groups.

Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers of animals, plant foods and seafoods. They were also considered skillful craftsmen in basketry, flint knapping and clamshell bead making. Many tribal descendants today continue these cultural traditions. Our Spring Festival is a celebration of Spring and its first fruit. Another food celebration held in the Fall is the Acorn Festival. Gatherings and trades with neighboring tribes also occurred. Today we continue this tradition with the Big Time Festival at Kule Loklo. This is a gathering of neighboring tribes of trade, dance and celebration. Hand-made clamshell beads were used as money for trades or services. Owning many beads was a sign of wealth. Today this skill is still continued with the shell beads and necklaces used mainly as regalia by dancers. Most basketry was buried and lost, what few remain are exhibited in museums.

In May of 1920, Bureau of Indian Affairs Inspector John J. Terrell was dispatched “to procure signed contracts for the most urgent purchases” on behalf of homeless Indians of California. Land along the coast was attempted but cost prohibitive. Terrell then proposed the purchase of a 15.45 acre tract of land near the small rural Sonoma County town of Graton for the “village home” of the Marshall, Bodega, Tomales (Coast Miwok) and Sebastopol Indians (Southern Pomo). This purchase was an alternative to the pricey coastal lands and was within the familiar areas of travel and a harvest camp area for the Marshall, Bodega and Sebastopol people. This land was then put into trust and the government combined the two neighboring tribes into one recognized entity, Graton Rancheria.

The Graton Rancheria was inadequate in size or accommodations. It was too small for the homes needed for the tribe's population and the terrain was mostly steep hills which limited building. There was also a limited water supply. At this time home construction was costly and the Bureau could offer no assistance. The reply from the Bureau was “We have no objection to you establishing yourself thereon. However, it will be necessary for you to build your own house if you move on the property.” The Graton people could not build due to financial reasons but for those that did, tent platforms were the usual construction. These platforms were used at different times by different families during the fruit harvest months.

Because housing was never established for the Graton Rancheria few people desired to stay here on a permanent basis. The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved a plan to distribute the assets and remove the Rancheria from federal trust in August of 1958 with three distributees (now deceased). Today only one Coast Miwok family (daughter of one of the three distributees) resides on this land since 1950.

Graton Rancheria (Current Photo)

©2011 Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria