Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians

Mailing Address

46575 Road 417
Coarsegold, CA 93614




Cultural History

The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians hails from the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the Fresno River up to the Finegold Creek up to the Coarsegold Creek extending up to the San Joaquin River. Their ancestors lived peacefully and harmoniously along the creeks. Their ancestors were used to living through farming, hunting, fishing and gathering roots and berries. The early tribal members were engaged in hunting deer, rabbit, and raccoons. The tribe’s diet, however, is mostly filled with plants. Their favorites were acorns, nuts, seeds, root crops and some other berries. The women were in charge of gathering these during the summer.

It was during the Gold Rush years when the United States government also made treaties with the Chukchansi and many other tribes in California. The treaties that were signed were never put into reality. Soon enough, the Chukchansi Indians found themselves living in small bands when the federal government gave them a federal acknowledgement as an Indian Tribe. The recognition given to them was also removed shortly. The tribe then was urged to join a class action lawsuit which was entitled Tillie Hardwick vs. United States. It was during the proceedings that the tribe fought for their rights, and they gained victory thus; in 1983, the tribe once again gained their much awaited federal recognition. Following this, their tribal constitution was then approved in July of 1988. The constitution put in provisions a seven member governing body which will be known as the Tribal Council. The tribe, up to know, still continues to operate under the said constitution. 

Most of the tribal members did not leave the Coarsegold and in the surrounding towns of the Oakhurst, Madera as well as the Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area. These places are considered to be the hometown of the tribe. The tribe was no longer allowed on a private property, but they still continue to live their ancestral way of life that is, by fishing, hunting and gathering food as well as basket making. The federal government granted them tracts of land to be used as home sites, but still, many families are homeless. The tribe was also landless until in the recent years when it was given the chance to won lands by borrowing money and using it to purchase back the land that they originally owned.

Nowadays, the tribe is on the brink of success as it operates several programs. The tribe is keen in promoting self-sufficiency and economic independence. The tribe has gained success in education, and today, their members are also politically active. The tribe operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino. Their Pow Wow Celebrations are held in remembrance of their traditions. Their Center for Development is also offering free workshops.

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