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Surprise Valley Native Americans in the 19th & 20th centuries

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  • Tom Piute (c.1830 - d.)
    1900 United States Federal Census for Ora Evans California Lassen Township 01 District 0048later husband of Suzi and step father of George Evans It is relavant to mention that his step- great grandson ...
  • Westwood Pine Press (Westwood, California) 28 Jun 2000, Wed Page 13
    Lt. Col. Leonard Lowry (1920 - 1999)
    attended both Ft. Bidwell and Stewart Indian School and a high school in Lassen as well* served in three wars* cultural historian and organizer in Lassen Co.** see the work by Dr. Robert Amesbury " Eag...
  • by MMvB
    Eloise Stonecoal (1904 - 1961)
    Amputee as a result of running away from school. (see clipping) This was the Greenville Indian Industrial School in Plumas Co. A group of girls tried to make it over the mountains in wintertime. One d...
  • Samson Stonecoal (1865 - 1933)
    Pitt River Indian another Pitt River line is: Ellen Stonecoal (1885 Susanville - 1929) dau. of James Stonecoal and Kate Wicket 1875-1945 (modoc county)
  • William Irvin Decious (bef.1849 - 1929)
    "According to Wemple (1972), his grandfather, (William) Irvin Decious, who came to the (Honey Lake) valley in 1863, indicated that the Paiute and Maidu both lived in Honey Lake Valley at the time of ea...

Surprise Valley
Geologically, the Surprise Valley appears to be part of Nevada rather than California...
"In one early account, Surprise Valley is said to have been known by the local Indians as “Kibeningnaredols” which means “Valley of the Long Mountains”."

In the early years of while immigrant settlement, the area was accessed by the Applegate Trail:
"fifteen men on horseback to set out in mid-June 1846 to look for a link between the two trails, blessed by the Provisional Government of Oregon. They traveled due south through the Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue valleys. At the south end of the Rogue Valley—the site of present-day Ashland—they turned east and crossed the Cascade Range, approximately along the present route of Green Springs Highway, Oregon Route 66, and emerged near where Keno, Oregon now lies. They went around the south end of Klamath Lake and eventually to the future site of Winnemucca, Nevada. The party split, leaving some to rest, while the remainder followed the Humboldt River northeast and along the California Trail to Fort Hall. The first emigrants to use the Applegate Trail did so in fall 1846 by following the Applegate party on the return trip, a group of perhaps 150 families which were persuaded by Jesse." (~• wikipedia)

An outpost and later a fort was established at the northern end of Upper Alkali Lake. Whites first called it Camp Bidwell for a military man.

Project guidelines

We also include: Native Americans including relatives living over the border in Nevada and Oregon.

huge loss of population in 19th century

sticker_new_right.gif Not reflected in this study are the deaths attributed to war, disease and famine during the years of immigrant conquest.
Genealogies have few tools to account for these losses of Native American populations as the records are few in the white world and the record keepers of the era were racist. Many policies enacted by the US government were overtly genocidal.

Tribal Affiliations (alphabetical)

Note: some of the following tribal titles refer to the same peoples. In other words, most are basically Northern Paiute. The Paiutes called themselves "the people"


"..this region was inhabited by Paiute, Pit River (“Achumawi”), and Modoc North American people. As settlers flocked to California, battles with the Modoc over territory and resources stained this area’s history in bloody conflict. The Modoc War (1872–1873), fought here, was the last of the Native American Wars to occur in California."

"Northern Paiute includes a number of semi-nomadic, culturally distinct, and politically autonomous Great Basin groups. "Northern Paiute" is a modern construction; aboriginally, these groups were tied together only by the awareness of a common language. Paiute may have meant "True Ute" or "Water Ute" and was applied only to the Southern Paiute until the 1850s. Their self-designation was Numa, or "People." Non-natives have sometimes called these people Digger Indians, Snakes (Northern Paiutes in Oregon), and Paviotso. The Bannock Indians were originally a Northern Paiute group from eastern Oregon."

"Most Northern Paiutes remained on foot until the late 1840s and 1850s."

"By about 1900, Northern Paiutes had lost more than 95 percent of their aboriginal territory. Most groups accepted the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and adopted tribal councils during the 1930s."

"Beatrice Blyth (1938:396, 403-404) has mapped these resource exploiting groups. South of the Tenino were the Juniper Deer Eaters (Wadikishitika), on the Upper John Day were the Hunibitika (Hunibui - a root), to the northeast of them were the Elk Eaters (Agaitika), south of them were the Tagu Root Eaters (Tagutika), south of the Hunibui Eaters were the Wada Root Eaters (Wadatika), around Lake Albert and Summer Lake were the Epos Eaters (Yapatika), at Warner Lake were the Groundhog Eaters (Gidutikad) aka Gidi'tikadii, and to the east and south of them were the Gwinidiba (meaning unknown). These names do not represent political units, since they split into smaller family and friendship groups when not exploiting their particular resource."

A street name in the modern Bidwell reservation honors this heritage: "Gidutikad Street"


These individuals and their families often lived on reservations such as the one at Ft. Bidwell.
Children were often sent/educated to an educational facility such as the one in the abandoned Ft. Bidwell in Modoc County.
(Here's an analysis of the student body of 1910 )

Surnames often reflected ancestral given names.e.g. "Ochiho" means Red Willow.
Go to the <photos> section for additional graphics.

~• about the military post: "Fort Bidwell was commissioned in 1865, and was decommissioned in 1893."


  1. June 30 1910 census of Bidwell agency in which there were over 1000 NA of the three tribes listed in 1917
  2. June 30 1917 census of Bidwell agency in which there were
  • 209 Paiutes
  • 533 Pitts
  • 14 Digger
    • Total 756 total


pertinent events of the 20th century