What Are Some Miwok Indian Tribe Facts?

The Miwok tribes are indigenous to Northern California. Their total population is approximately 3,500 people. The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes 11 Miwok tribes. Some of the tribes use the spelling "Me-wuk" in their names. There are also several other federally unrecognized tribes living in California.

The word "Miwok" means "people" in the Miwokan languages. The four living Miwokan languages are highly endangered, as English is the main language spoken by members of the Miwok tribes.

Members of the federally recognized tribes live mainly on rancherias, which are analogous to reservations. A tribal/general council governs each Miwok tribe, and the tribe holds democratic elections for council members. For example, council seats within the California Valley Miwok Tribe are for a term of six years. The California Valley Miwok Tribal Headquarters suffered great damage in a fire in March 2015, possibly caused by faulty electrical wiring.

The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians owns the Red Hawk Casino in Placerville, California. The Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians owns the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort in Amador County, California, and the resort is the county's largest employer. The Ione Band of Miwoks has also submitted a plan to build a casino in Amador County, near the city of Plymouth. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria operate the Graton Resort and Casino.