The Coast Miwok peoples were organized into small, politically independent tribes that inhabited the Marin and southern Sonoma Counties. In total, the Coast Miwoks had approximately 14 tribes. Their territory is north of the Ohlone people in the San Francisco area, and they constitute the second largest Miwok people, also known as the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
Park lands north of the Golden Gate, primarily in Marin County and Southern Sonoma County, are the aboriginal lands of the Coast Miwoks. This includes the from Point Reyes National Seashore and extends from Muir Beach to Fort Baker along California’s Northern Coast.
- 1579: The earliest recorded account of the Coast Miwok people made by the Europeans was found in a diary kept by Chaplain Fletcher aboard Sir Francis Drake’s ship.
- 1830: Indigenous people were kept in servitude and eventually given acres of land.
- 1861: The United States Congress enacts legislation which effectively extinguishes Indian title to almost all land in California, leaving most tribes, including Graton Rancheria’s ancestors, entirely landless.
- 1958: Congress passes the California Rancheria Act of 1958 calling for the termination of 41 California Rancherias, including the Graton Rancheria.
- 1990: Tribal members fight to restore their status and are renamed the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
- 2000: Legislation signed, granting the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok, full rights and privileges afforded to federally recognized tribes.
- 2005–08: 254 acres of land is purchased for a reservation and a tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is funded.
- 2013: The Graton Resort and Casino opens. In doing so, they are able to provide programs and services to tribal citizens to realize their dreams of self-sufficiency.
Coast Miwok Life
Coast Miwok life was intricately woven into the changing seasons. The Coast Miwok had many tools and techniques they used to gather or hunt for food. The ocean provided food year-round. Crab, clams, mussels, abalone, limpets, and oysters were some of the seafood gathered by the women in the tidal zone, while dip nets, woven surf nets, and cone shaped traps helped catch an array of fish.
Coast Miwok today
Descendants of the Coast Miwok peoples live throughout the Bay Area. Many are organized into distinct tribal groups. While participating in contemporary society, they are actively involved in the preservation and revitalization of their native culture. Restoration of native language, protection of ancestral sites, practice of traditional plant uses, storytelling, dance, song, and basket weaving are all aspects of these restoration efforts.