Opinion

Raymond Hitchcock: Wilton Rancheria protects its sacred space






Miwok veteran is among those buried at the Hicksville Cemetery in Galt, California Photo by Mel Aguilar

The Wilton Rancheria has been in the news lately as tribal leaders pursue a gaming development on ancestral territory in northern California. As the recently recognized tribe works to restore its homeland, Chairman Raymond Hitchcock highlights one place of special significance:
Once, Miwok villages were located along creeks and streams throughout the Sacramento Valley, including many along the Cosumnes River where the historic Wilton Rancheria was established. It was customary to bury our deceased along those waterways. As European settlers came and staked claims to land along the fertile rivers and streams, those villages and burial spots quickly disappeared along with the local Miwok population.

My great-great-grandfather, Aleck Blue, was a medicine man and healer from this area. He was born in 1839 or 1845 (Native American history at that time was oral, not written, and there were no records of his birth), and he lived and worked on the Valensin Ranch, one of the largest Spanish land grant holdings in California. It was said to be as large as 50,000 acres, spanning from Hicksville, north of Galt, to Ione.

Aleck was taken in by the Valensin family as a young boy. His parents were unknown Miwok. He worked as a ranch hand but visited other tribes in the area where he knew his people were from. He was respected in the Indian community and wanted to establish a permanent place for the local Miwok to lay their family members to rest.

Read More:
Raymond Hitchcock: A place for Miwok people to rest, and tell their story (The Sacramento Bee 11/11)

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