Tribal History

Wilton Rancheria Tribal History

The members of Wilton Rancheria are descendants of the Penutian linguistic family identified as speaking the Miwok dialect. The Tribe’s Indigenous Territory encompasses Sacramento County. The lands the Tribe’s ancestors inhabited were located along a path of massive death and destruction of California Indians caused by Spanish, Mexican, and American military incursions, disease and slavery, and the violence accompanying mining and settlements. Between March 1851 and January 1852, three commissioners hastily negotiated eighteen treaties with representatives of some of the indigenous population in California. The ancestors of the Tribe were party to the treaty signed at the Forks of the Cosumnes. The Treaty of the Forks of the Cosumnes River ceded the lands on which the Wilton Rancheria in Sacramento County was later established, but promised to establish a rancheria beginning at the Cosumnes River, “commencing at a point on the Cosumnes river, on the western line of the county, running south on and by said line to its terminus, running east on said line twenty-five miles, thence north to the middle fork of the Cosumnes river, down said stream to the place of beginning; to have and to hold the said district of country for the sole use and occupancy of said Tribe forever.”

The Tribe’s ancestors came back from nearly being annihilated only to have their children taken to boarding schools that stripped their indigenous language and culture further. Finally in July of 1928 the United State of America acquired land in trust for the Miwok people that were living in Sacramento County. A 38.77 acre tract of land in Wilton, Sacramento County, California was purchased from the Cosumnes Company which formally established the Wilton Rancheria. In 1958, the United States Congress enacted the Rancheria Act, authorizing the termination of federal trust responsibilities to 41 California Indian Tribes including Wilton Rancheria. The Tribe official lost its Federal Recognition in 1964. 

Congress reconsidered their policy of termination in favor of Indian self-determination in the 1970s. In 1991, surviving members of Wilton Rancheria reorganized their tribal government and in 1999 they requested the United States to formally restore their federal recognition. Ten years later a decision of a U.S. District Court Judge gave Wilton Rancheria restoration, restoring the Tribe to a Federally Recognized Tribe in 2009. Wilton Rancheria is a federally recognized Indian Tribe as listed in the Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 132, p. 33468-33469, as “Wilton Rancheria of Wilton, California”. The Tribe passed their constitution in 2011. It stated its four branches of government that includes the Office of the Chair & Vice Chair, the Tribal Council, a Tribal-Court, and the General Council. The Tribe’s administration office is located in the City of Elk Grove, Sacramento County in California.

As stated in the Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 176, Notices 55731, on September 11, 2013 the Tribe was designated the geographic boundaries of the Service Delivery Area (SDA) of Sacramento County in the State of California. As the only Federally Recognized Tribe in Sacramento County it is designated administratively as the Tribe’s SDA. To function as a Contract Health Service Delivery Area (CHSDA), for the purpose of operating a Contract Health Service (CHS) program pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistant Act (ISDEAA), Public Law 93–638.