BIA Acknowledgment of Marian Wilders Lot Distribution

During the California  Rancheria Termination Act of 1958, where the government was to terminate their federal relationships with all California rancherias and distribute the tribe’s assets to qualifying adult tribal members, members of the Nakomis Men’s Club began having secret meetings and attempting to enact termination policies that the rest of the members (1) didn’t know about, and (2) never voted on.

Within these meetings, as it turns out, two men were specifically named in numerous correspondence between members and the Department of Interior. These men were working nefariously to place the most favorable lots into the names of their own family members, including those who didn’t meet the criteria that the BIA and DOI had instructed.

While they were assigning themselves these lots, they were excluding legitimate and eligible assignees their rightful lands. Entire parcel maps excluding the names and original lot assignments, reconfiguring existing lots into new lot parcels, and conducting secret meetings on what the Termination Act meant for the tribe. These men were taking full advantage of the power they weilded, and turns out, these men were not even eligible lot holders. They never even lived on the Rancheria and yet they were doling out land to their families and out of towner kids.

Public notices were to be posted throughout the area, giving notification that meetings were being held so that eligible tribal members could have the opportunity to claim what was rightfully theirs to claim.

The BIA offered a “Protest” period which allowed members to file their protests of the tentative distribution plan. Many tribal members filed their protests with the department when they learned that they were completely excluded and denied anything from the Hopland Rancheria.

Here is a letter of the Bureau’s acknowledgment that my grandmother Marian R. Wilder indeed was entitled to a land distribution from the Hopland Rancheria as it reads (transcribed from the official copy via the National Archives in San Bruno, CA):

Marian R. Wilder:

The Area Director at Sacramento has forwarded to this Department you letter of May 21 protesting the provisions of the Hopland rancheria distribution plan. It is quite evident from the file that you are entitled to be designated as the distributee to parcel 18. We are sorry your name was not included in the plan as  submitted to us, but it is not surprising that there were oversights. The requirements for participation were defined after the community  made several  abortive attempts to prepare a plan, and in the process of selecting  eligible distributees under the requirements, your eligibility was overlooked. We are directing a change in the distribution plan to show you as the distributee for parcel 18.  The person to whom this parcel is now assigned xx has agreed to accept another designation.

When the plan is presented to the distributees for their acceptance vote, it will clearly show you as the distributee for parcel 18. We are pleased that your protest could be resolved in this manner.

Sincerely yours,

Secretary of the Interior

Many protests were filed to the BIA, however, not all of them were accepted or considered. Some claims were unsubstantiated and the BIA could not resolve the matter in which they were claiming. Including a few of our own Billy family members. Some folks didn’t meet the criteria, and some just didn’t have the documentation to fulfill their deceased relative’s wishes to regain donated lots for schools, etc.

It is somewhat surprising that the BIA lent enough attention to the matter of how the Hopland Indians were planning to distribute their lots, let alone to offer a period in which protests could be made, and their hand in sifting through each claim and determining a final decision for all of it.

Our multigenerational grandparents didn’t live through all of that history for nothing, and yet, here we are. Being told (through the grapevine, of course) that we don’t belong.

Then who does?

Come! Let’s find more untruths. See you in the next post!

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