The History of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians

For many centuries, the Pomo Indians lived in peace throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. But after the arrival of early settlers, their story turned tragic. The Pomo Indians were killed, their land was stolen and polluted, and they were made slaves.

In 1851, the federal government sent agents to negotiate treaties with the Pomo Tribes. Many agreed to give up most of their lands after the government set aside 7.5 million acres for those California tribes that signed treaties with the U.S. But settlers protested and the U.S. Senate rejected the treaties. Although the tribes honored the treaties, they weren’t told that the Senate had rejected them until 1905.

The Pomo Indians were forced to move to the Mendocino and Round Valley Reservations, and their lands were taken over by settlers. Then in 1867, the Mendocino Reservation was closed, leaving many Pomo Indians without homes. By the turn of the century, only 1,000 Pomo Indians remained. They lived in poverty and were treated as second-class citizens.

Native groups later banded together to buy back pieces of their old lands. Pomo Indian groups pooled their earnings and bought rancherias (small ranches) in Pinoleville and Yokaya.

In 1907, an Eastern Pomo Indian named Ethan Anderson filed a lawsuit that helped Indian groups secure the right to vote. Native Americans were granted full U.S. citizenship in 1924.

In the 1950s, the Pomo Indians were again betrayed by the federal government. Many of the Pomo Indian Tribes, including the Scotts Valley Band, were illegally disbanded by the federal government and their rancherias were terminated. In 1972, a federal task force concluded that the Scotts Valley Band was the only Pomo Indian Tribe that should be entirely relocated, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs relocated the vast majority of Tribal members to the Bay Area.

In 1986, members of the Scotts Valley Band sued the federal government, which ultimately restored the Tribe’s federal recognition.

Today, the federal government recognizes Contra Costa County as the Tribe’s "service population area." This is our rightful home. As a federally recognized “landless” Tribe, the Scotts Valley Band may purchase land in Contra Costa County and put it in trust for the benefit of the Tribe.

Today, we are fighting to preserve our culture, language and arts, and to re-establish a homeland in Contra Costa County. Our goal is to become economically self-sufficient while creating jobs and new economic opportunities for our Tribe and our non-Indian neighbors.

Our hope is that all Contra Costa residents will benefit from our efforts.

Reference: Tribes of Native America: Pomo, Blackbirch Press, 2002

Historical Highlights PDF (click here)