Join us as we celebrate the rich and diverse culture, traditions, and histories of Native people. We acknowledge the unjust treatement Native people have faced historically to present day and how tribal citizens have worked to overcome these challenges and celebrate their heritage.
Wilton Rancheria is the only Federally recognized Tribe in Sacramento County. As a statement of respect, the City of Elk Grove recently adopted a Land Acknowledgement, which will be read at City meetings and events.
We honor, respect, and acknowledge Elk Grove’s first inhabitants, the Plains Miwok, who lived as sovereign caretakers of this land and these waterways since time immemorial. We commemorate and advocate for their descendants, the Wilton Rancheria Tribe -- the only Federally recognized Tribe in Sacramento County -- who ensure because of the bravery, resiliency, and determination of their ancestors, tribal members, and leaders.
Tommy Orange is a bestselling author and award-winning Indigenous writer born and raised in Oakland, California. A member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe, Tommy’s book “There, There” about a group of Indigenous People in Oakland, received the American Book award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2019. The book describes the many adversities Indigenous People face daily.
- Tommy Orange bestselling and award-winning author
- Tommy Orange Visits Harvard Art Museums to Talk About New Novel, Indigenous Identity
- University of Wyoming News
John Herrington: First Native American in Space
In 2002, John Herrington became the first Native American in space. Herrington took aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour eagle feathers, arrowheads, wooden flutes, and flags of the Chickasaw and Crow nations to honor his heritage. Prior to being accepted as an astronaut, Herrington was a US navy pilot at Moffett Field Naval Air Station near Mountain View, California. He was inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame in 2007.
Cheri Madsen: Native American Paralympian
Cheri Madsen was left paralyzed by an unknown virus at age three. She discovered wheelchair racing at the age of 18 and made history as the first Native American female to win an Olympic exhibition bronze medal at the 1996 games in Atlanta. Madsen was a four-term Paralympian competing in 1996, 2000, 2016, and 2020, accumulating two gold, five silver, and three bronze medals during her career.
Maria Tallchief: Prima Ballerina
Maria Tallchief, a member of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, was born in 1925 and raised in Los Angeles. She is considered America’s first major prima ballerina, and the first Native American to hold that rank as well as the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet. Maria was a strong advocate for the Native American experience and received many awards including the National Medal of Arts. Upon her passage in 2013 the Osage Tribe honored her with the name “Princess Wa-Txthe-thonba” which means “Woman of Two Standards (Worlds)” for her achievements as a ballerina and as an Osage woman.
- Maria Tallchief: Osage Prima Ballerina
- Maria Tallchief | National Women's History Museum (womenshistory.org)
- Tallchief, Maria - National Women’s Hall of Fame (womenofthehall.org)
Wilton Rancheria Tribe
The Wilton Rancheria tribe is indigenous to territory within Sacramento County and are descendants of the Miwok-speaking Native American tribes. Wilton Rancheria was terminated in 1958 by the federal government under the California Rancheria Act. After years of struggle, the Tribe regained its federal recognition in June 2009. In November 2011, the Tribe adopted its modern Constitution. The Wilton Rancheria tribe currently has 700 members, 62% of members live in Sacramento County, and 60% of the tribal youth are currently enrolled in the Elk Grove Unified School District.
Photo source: Wilton Rancheria Tribe
Representative Sharice Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. She is also a first-generation college graduate, American attorney, and former mixed martial arts fighter. Davids has represented Kansas’ Third Congressional District since January 2019. Representative Davids made history by becoming the first openly LGBTQ Native American woman elected to Congress and by being one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.
Photo source: davids.house.gov
Jim Thorpe, America’s First Multi-Sports Star, is a member of the Sac and Fox Nation and was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States. He won in the Decathlon and Pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics. He was stripped of his medals because of the payment he received during his time playing baseball. 30 years after he passed, the International Olympic Committee returned the title of Gold medalist to Thorpe.
Thorpe also played six seasons of Major League Baseball and 12 seasons in the American Professional Football Association. He was inducted in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. Thorpe is referred to by many as one of the greatest athletes of his time.
Photo source: Creative Commons
Secretary Deb Haaland is a tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. She attended University of New Mexico Law School and received a Juris Doctor in Indian Law in 2006. As one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, Haaland served as the representative for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District from 2019-2021. She resigned the seat to become the Secretary of the Interior in 2021. Secretary Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary.
Photo source: doi.gov/secretary-deb-haaland
Internationally acclaimed Native American (Cherokee Nation) activist, actor and musician, Wes Studi participated in many movements for the advancement of Native Americans’ rights and preservation of indigenous languages throughout his life. He is noted to have brought fully developed and authentic Native American characters to the screen. His portrayal of characters earned him a variety of awards throughout his career including induction into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers. In 2019, Studi received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Award for lifetime achievement. He was also the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar specifically for acting.
Photo source: Office of the California Governor