Nisenan Indians – Richard B. Johnson Interview – Nevada City Rancheria

 

Not Safe to be an Indian

“In past, you didn’t talk about being Indian. If you did, you could get beat up – badly. This is why we’ve been quiet.”

Correcting History – Maidu is a Language, not a People

“When we discovered that Deer Creek was going to be dedicated to somebody else, not the local Indians, we needed to start communicating. In the late 1800’s they wanted to identify Indian races in California. They came up with names based on linguistic groupings. Concaw and Nisenan Indians were called Maidu. Maidu is a name of a language, not a name of a people. It’s like the word ‘Latin.’  Do you know a people or a country called Latin? We want people to know that we are the Nisenan Nation and we’re still here.”

Today’s Nisenan Nation

“It’s safe, now to say you are an Indian. This community has treated the Native Americans very well. Even during the Gold Rush times, there were people trying to protect the Indians. The Craig family gave us the land where our Rancheria was to live on for eternity – not to be disturbed or moved again. Women of the Golden West provided housing. If it wasn’t for these people, it’s possible that none of us would be here. Even though there were tragedies and atrocities,  there were still some good people who felt that if we were left alone, we would be peaceful, happy, and content. We try.” – says Johnson.

 

Resources:

Nevada City Rancheria website

News From Native California – a quarterly magazine devoted to the vibrant cultures, art languages, history, social justice movements, and stories of California’s diverse Indian peoples.

California Native People book resources compiled by Chuck Smith, Anthropology Instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA

PDF – The Secret Treaties with California’s Indians – Larisa K. Miller

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