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Koi Nation of Northern California
Lower Lake Rancheria
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( California)
English, traditionally Southeastern Pomo
Related ethnic groups
other Pomo peoples

The Koi Nation of the Lower Lake Rancheria is a federally recognized tribe of Southeastern Pomo people in northern California. Their name for their tribe is Koi Nation of Northern California, from their traditional village, Koi, once located on an island in Clear Lake.

Koi, meaning people of water, lived on islands in the Clear Lake in what is now Lake County, California, and migrated seasonally to the California coast. The "Purvis Tract" is located on the Northwest corner of the Clear Lake. For thousands of years, the Nation lived under the Purvis Tract. In that time, the nation continued to assert its unique identity and maintain control of its area.

Tribe's Mission Statement

It is the mission of the Koi Nation to empower our people to achieve a better way of life and maintain tribal integrity and honor through responsive government. Their goals are as follows.

  • To develop a foundation for the preservation of cultural traditions and history, and protect and care for our environment by exercising our *sovereignty to the fullest extent.
  • To ensure the social, cultural and economic stability and prosperity of our people by developing and optimizing tribal and community resources and opportunities.
  • To ensure the protection and care of our tribal youth and our families, including the establishment of educational and developmental programs in securing a brighter future for coming generations, as well as for our neighbors and the greater community.
  • To uphold the Constitution of the Koi Nation and protect the rights of the tribe, as well as the basic rights of each and every individual in our tribal community.
  • To ensure the fair and equitable provision of services and entitlements to all tribal members.

Economic Development Plan

Though a federally recognized Indian tribe, the Koi Nation remains landless. The tribal government seeks a land base on which to launch a program of economic development to provide a variety of services to its members, including adequate housing, healthcare, educational and vocational opportunities, and proper care for tribal elders. As the tribe moves forward with its plans for economic development, the Tribal Council of the Koi Nation remains firmly dedicated to its vision for the tribe’s future.

The Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation, a federally recognized Indian Tribe, officially announced its plans to build a world-class tribal government gaming facility, resort and spa near Oakland International Airport in the city of Oakland. The Tribe's Crystal Bay Casino, Resort & Spa project will create an estimated 4,440 new jobs, 2,200 directly, annual payroll approaching $80 million and $1 billion in overall annual economic activity for the local area.The Tribe also has begun government-to-government talks with the city to explore potential benefits the project could bring to the local economy. Discussions have included a proposal for annual payments from the Tribe to mitigate impacts to city services, including funding for additional police and fire protection, reimbursement for lost property taxes and parking tax revenue, and road and traffic improvements. The Tribe's payment proposal would also provide significant new annual funding for numerous public programs and organizations, with an emphasis on youth violence prevention and education programs throughout the city.

On March 17, 2008, the nation submitted a gaming ordinance for the Chairman's review and approval. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2710(b), requires the NIGC Chairman to review and approve (or disapprove) tribal gaming ordinances. The ordinance sought a determination from the Chairman that the Nation was a restored tribe within the meaning of 25 U.S.C. 2719(b)(1)(B)(iii). On June 18, 2008, the Chairman disapproved the ordinance. He deffered to a December 29, 2000 determination of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, which reaffirmed the government-to-government relationship between the Nation and the United States and found that the Nation had never been terminated. Determinations about the government-to-government relationships between the United States and Indian tribes per se and without more are properly made by the Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


The Koi people were among the Southeastern Pomo who lived in north-central California for millennia. They fished, hunted, and gathered. In the 19th century, European-Americans rapidly flooded Pomo lands. The US government signed two treaties with Pomos in 1851–1852 which defined Pomo territory; however, these treaties were never ratified by congress. In 1856, the US government forcibly removed many Pomo people to a reservation in Mendocino County; however, the Koi remained on their island.

In 1870, Koi people attended a historic Ghost Dance. By 1871, their homes had been burned and destroyed by European-Americans. Disease, enslavement, and murder greatly reduced their population. The federal government secured a parcel of land called Purvis Flat, which became the Lower Lake Rancheria, for the homeless Koi people. In Bureau of Indian Affairs then declared the land "uninhabitable" in 1937; however, the BIA reversed itself and demanded that Koi people had to live on the land or lose their rights to it. Seven tribal families lived on the rancheria in 1950. In 1956, the tribe sold the land to Lake County to use as an airport; however, the federal government never terminated their recognition of the tribe. The BIA finally reaffirmed tribal recognition of the Lower Lake Rancheria on 29 December 2000.


The Koi and the Elem tribe are known to have the longest continual human habitation of one area in all of North America. The span being the 14,000-21,000 years. The areas included are from Lower Lake and all of Clearlake for the Koi to Clearlake Oaks for the Elem. The Koi people had a simple way of life based on the complex spiritual connection with the living environment of the surrounding area. All natural things are considered to have been created by the Creator and should be embraced and respected. The Koi ancestors and those of the Elem and Kamdot tribes shared a common language which is of the Hokan language root. It is believed to be one of the oldest languages in the entire state. The Koi have revived their language and along with resources found at UC Berkeley. A couple of the tribal members attended language classes at UC Berkeley called the Breath of Life Tenth Biennial Workshop. The tribe is now currently holding classes teaching how to speak, read, and write in Koi.

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