Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians facts for kids
|(1200 enrolled members (2010))|
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( California)|
|traditional tribal religion, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Yokuts people|
The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California is a federally recognized tribe of indigenous people of California. They are Chukchansi or Foothills Yokuts. Picayune Rancheria is the tribe's ranchería, located in Madera County in central California.
Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians is affiliated to Chukchansi Yokuts culture. Chukchansi Yokuts are indigenous to Central California where they inhibit areas of the San Joaquin Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada for more than 12,000 years. In more of contemporary terms, they have lived in the Sierran foothills from the Fresno and Chowchilla rivers in the north down to the where the valley ends in the Tehachapi mountains in the south. Many Chukchansi still live in these foothills about 30 miles north of Fresno; this is where the headquarters of the tribe, Picayune Rancheria, is today. Chukchansi is the language spoken regionally in which anthropologist classified an estimate of 60 tribes together as Yokuts—meaning people. Hense, Chukchansi Yokuts. But according to the official website of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, these tribes all have similar culture and custom but have had different dialects.
The first Picayunes were agents of their environment. They adapted and manipulated nature that managed and produced harvest through sophisticated techniques. This includes farming, hunting, fishing, and gathering. Deer Although deer and antelope would be their primary source of protein, they would also hunt for squirrel, rabbit, raccoons, and anything within the marshes and grassland. They would use decoys to capture or kill the animals. According to Joana Blume, such decoys would be to use antlers and skin from previous kills to attract antelope. Other decoys helped catch pigeons. They would also Blume goes to state that they would participate in communal drives where several members of the tribes would drive rabbits into nets. Those who gathered and reaped, their primary source of nutrition derived from plants that peaked in the summer: acorns, nuts, seeds, roots, and berries.
Fire was more than just used for cooking. It had a multiplicative purpose to the Picayune Rancheria. Fire was used to cut hair, driving rabbits and squirrels out of their holes when hunting, and maintains of the grassland and vegetation that would really cause great fires. Because the brush from the grassland would be cleared by the fire, hunting and gathering were made easier as it attracted more wildlife and produced the ability to sow crops. Fire also made the environment livable conditions. According to Blume, fires “usually occurred after the harvesting of seeds in the fall as well as in the spring” (15). Their deep understanding of the environment and resources created an epistemology that is important for Picayunes today.
After contact with Europeans, Spanish missionary settlers and American trappers and gold miners, the population of the indigenous Picayune were disrupted, weakened, and displaced. It is stated that prior to contact, there was a population between 70,000-80,000. According to the website, “The introduction of diseases that the Native people had no immunity to caused waves of de-population. By 1900, it is estimated that approximately 85% – 90% of all California Indians 'disappeared.' The discovery of gold in the mid-19th century brought thousands of foreigners in search of wealth. Under American rule at the time, Native people had no legal rights. Their lands were taken away from them and their way of life was changed forever.” These series of unfortunate events forced the community to become laborers within the farm, logging, mining, and cowboy industries. In early twentieth century, the government began to distribute land to the landless Native Californians and created Rancherias—not reservations. This gave back their agency of autonomously. However, not much later in time, the relationship with the government was severed between 1950’-60’s. Their sovereignty was denied and their land was sold. Thankfully in 1983, the tribe was federally recognized, however, they remained without land. The Picayune struggled to buy back the land that was once stolen from them. Recently, the tribe was able to establish a casino named Chukchansi Gold Casino & Resort.
The tribe is a high advocate for education. Their language is/was at the point of extinction. Since June of 2009, there’s been a push to work with the Department of Linguistics, California State University, Fresno to establish courses studies on the language and culture to prevent the history and culture from extinction. It is known as The Chukchansi Yokuts Revitalization Project. At one point in time, there were only 5 or 6 Native speakers who knew the language of which two were in collaboration with the university. On May 7, 2012, the tribe pledged $1 million to the department to keep it’s language alive. In keeping not only its language and culture alive, the tribe has established a scholarship within Cal State Fresno known as Picayune Rancheria Chukchansi Scholarship. Currently enrolled students must demonstrate their interest in Native American culture, history and/or language within the fields of Linguistics, Anthropology, Finance, Education, or Agriculture. Besides the University, The tribe offers educational programs and services for tribal members. All highs school and adult members are assisted with educational scholarships, collegiate and academic advising, career development, and internships in collaboration with local organizations and institutions. There is also an extra-curricular activity program for grade school students (K-12). The tribe strongly believes in early education for “ensuring a promising future for children and families of Native American heritage.” “Therefore, the staff at [their] school will passionately seek to ensure that all students and their families are given the tools that they need to succeed in education while at the same time giving Native American people the opportunity to relay the cultural foundation that was once taken away from many families.”
The tribe owns and operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, California Market Buffet, Goldfield's Cafe, Noodle Bar, Vintage Steakhouse, and Bakery, all located in Coarsegold. The Casino owns the naming rights to Chukchansi Park in Fresno.
MightyOak Capital MightyOak is a venture capital firm, merchant bank and real estate investment firm. MightyOak maintains a broad portfolio of passive investments and is the Central California leader in merger and acquisition transactions. In addition, MightyOak is an active real estate investor and developer.
Mighty Builders Established in 1987, Mighty Builders is the leading commercial construction company in Central California, and a national leader in Indian Country construction and commercial self-storage construction. Currently licensed in California, Nevada and Hawaii; Mighty Builders has built several million square feet of commercial projects throughout the western United States. Yosemite Lumber Established in 1953, Yosemite Lumber is the premier wholesale distributor of lumber products and construction supplies in Central California. Located in Oakhurst, California, Yosemite works with commercial and residential contractors for all their lumber and building supplies.
Chukchansi Crossing Will be Located on Highway 41 at the entry to the legendary Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, Chukchansi Crossing is at the “halfway point” between the Fresno/Clovis Metropolitan area and Yosemite National Park. Chukchansi Crossing will include restaurants, a boutique retail and one of the most cutting-edge fuel and travel centers in the United States featuring California’s widest selection of Native American fuel and products at phenomenally low prices.
Blue King Inc. Blue King Inc. is a tribal lending entity wholly owned by the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, a sovereign nation recognized by and located within the United States of America. By utilizing their website, you are conducting business on the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians through Blue King Inc. and are subjecting yourself exclusively to the laws and jurisdiction of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, a sovereign Native American nation.
Willow Glen Smoke Shop Founded in 2011 by Chukchansi Inc., Willow Glen Smoke Shop is a tribally-owned Native American company that carries Native American brand tobacco and other tobacco products. Willow Glen Smoke Shop is one of the leading Native American owned tobacco retailers in California. Willow Glen Smoke Shop is open to the public and carries a variety of Native brand cigarettes and other products.
Sportsmen’s Den Is a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) located in Oakhurst and Mariposa, CA. Their license classifies them with the ATF as a firearms dealer. It is recommended that customers contact them at 559-683-2900 with any questions regarding buying, selling, or transferring firearms and the fees associated with those services.
FOI Commercial Interiors In 2010, the Chukchansi Indian Tribe, located near the base of Yosemite in the mountains of California, purchased FOI to be included in their portfolio of businesses. The vision and values of FOI and the Chukchansi Tribe complement each other perfectly and the acquisition promises tremendous opportunity for growth and additional resources for their clients.
Since the 2003 opening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino the Chukchansi Tribe has been one of the leading tribes known for disenrolling its own members. Disenrollment is the process by which a tribe strips members of their tribal affiliation thus denying those members the benefits associated with federal tribal affiliation such as education benefits, land and property rights on reservations, tax benefits, medical benefits, and payments to the tribe from tribal sources of money including money from casinos owned by the tribe as well as child care and elder care. Since 2003 hundreds of tribal members have been disenrolled allowing the remaining tribal members to receive larger portions of the income from the casino. The tribe has disenrolled people with documented ancestry, land rights granted by the federal government and some of the last native speakers of the Chukchansi language. By 2013 the tribal membership had gone from an estimated 1800 members to an estimated 900 members. In a now thrown-out court case in 2012, the Ramirezes family argued that only the members of their family were legitimate Chukchansi tribe members. In February 2012 leaders who opposed the policies of disenrollment were elected to the tribal council by a majority vote. However, the incumbent council members invalidated the elections and refused to step down to the newly elected leaders. This resulted in supporters of the newly elected leaders staging protest where they occupied the “City Hall” building. The supporters of the incumbents then showed up and began throwing pepper-spray and burning logs into the building the protesters were occupying. Sheriffs deputies from Fresno and Madera Counties as well as the California Highway Patrol were called to break up the resulting riots.
In February 2014 the Bureau of Indian Affairs stepped in and reappointed the 2010 Tribal Council in an attempt to temporarily resolve the dispute until a new Tribal Council was voted on. They decided to reappoint the 2010 leadership as that was the last year when the BIA could determine that there was an uncontested Tribal Council election.
Aune, Doreen. Chukchansi Language Adult Curriculum. Linguistics in the College of Arts and Humanities. California State University, Fresno. Fresno, CA. 2012. Blume, Joanna M. Grasslands—The forgotten Resource: The Cultural Ecology Of The Central California Grasslands. Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA. 1994. Chukchansi Gold Casino & Resort. Web.  California State University, Fresno. Chukchansi Yokuts Revitalization Project.  California State University, Fresno.  Guekguezian, Peter Ara. Topics in Chukchansi Yokuts phonology and morphology. Diss. California State University, Fresno, 2011. Indian Country Media Network. Tribe Donates $1 Million to Preserve Chukchansi Language. 10 May 2012.  The Official Website of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians. 
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