Mission / Rancheria

Rancheria Indians refers to a total of 59 Indian settlements established by the U.S. Government, 54 of them between 1906 and 1934, for the survivors of the aboriginal population.

Mission Indians were the indigenous tribes that lived near the Spanish missions in California in the area of present day San Diego.

An Indian Colony is a Native American settlement associated with an urban area.

California Rancherias

The Spanish word ranchería, or rancherío, refers to a small, rural settlement. In the Americas the term was applied to native villages in California, and to the workers’ quarters of a ranch.

A small area of land was set aside around an Indian settlement to create a ranchería. Some rancherías developed from small communities of Indians formed on the outskirts of American settlements who were fleeing Americans or avoiding removal to the reservations.

With the passage of Public Law 83-280 in the mid-1950s, terminating federal supervision and control over California tribes, some 40 rancherías lost the right to certain federal programs, and their lands no longer had the protection of federal status.

In 1983, a lawsuit resulted in restoring federal recognition to 17 rancherías, with others still waiting for the reversal of their termination.

List of California Rancheria Indians:

Alturas Rancheria
Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria
Berry Creek Rancheria
Big Lagoon Rancheria
Big Sandy Rancheria
Big Valley Rancheria
Blue Lake Rancheria
Buena Vista Rancheria
Cedarville Rancheria
Chicken Ranch Rancheria
Cloverdale Rancheria
Cold Springs Rancheria
Colusa Rancheria
Cortina Rancheria
Dry Creek Rancheria
Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians, Sulphur Bank Rancheria
Elk Valley Rancheria
Greenville Rancheria
Grindstone Rancheria
Guidiville Rancheria
Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians
Juaneño Band of Mission Indians

Laytonville Rancheria
Lytton Rancheria
Manchester/Point Arena Rancheria
Middletown Rancheria
Mooretown Rancheria
North Fork Rancheria
Picayune Rancheria (Chukchansi Indians)
Potter Valley Rancheria
Redding Rancheria
Redwood Valley Rancheria
Robinson Rancheria
Rumsey Rancheria
Santa Rosa Rancheria
Sherwood Valley Rancheria
Shingle Springs Rancheria
Smith River Rancheria
Stewart Point Rancheria Pomo
Susanville Rancheria
Table Mountain Rancheria
Table Bluff Rancheria (Wiyot)
Trinidad Rancheria
Tuolumne Me-wuk Rancheria
Upper Lake Rancheria

Mission Indians

Mission Indians is a term for many indigenous peoples of California, primarily living in coastal plains, adjacent inland valleys and mountains, and on the Channel Islands in central and southern California, United States.

The tribes had established comparatively peaceful cultures varying from 250 to 8,000 years before Spanish contact.

These resident indigenous peoples of the Americas were forcibly relocated from their traditional dwellings, villages, and homelands to live and work at twenty-one Franciscan Spanish missions in California, and the Asisténcias and Estáncias as they were established between 1796 and 1823 in the Las Californias Province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Spanish explorers arrived on California’s coasts as early as the mid-16th century.

In 1769 the first Spanish Franciscan mission was built in San Diego. Local tribes were relocated and conscripted into forced labor on the mission, stretching from San Diego to San Francisco. Disease, starvation, over work, and torture decimated these tribes.

Many were forcibly converted and baptized as Roman Catholics by the Franciscan missionaries at the missions.

Mission Indians were from many regional Native American tribes; their members were often relocated together in new mixed groups and the Spanish named the Indian groups after the responsible mission.

For instance, the Payomkowishum were renamed “Luiseños” after the Mission San Luis Rey, and the Acjachemem were renamed the “Juaneños” after the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

The Catholic priests forbade the Indians from practicing their native culture, resulting in the disruption of many tribes’ linguistic, spiritual, and cultural practices.

With no acquired immunity to the new European diseases, and changed cultural and lifestyle demands, the population of Native American Mission Indians suffered high mortality and dramatic decreases during the mission period and after.

Mexico gained control of Californian missions in 1834 when it became independent, but abuse persisted.

It secularized the missions and transferred or sold the lands to other non-Native administrators or owners. Many of the Mission Indians worked on the newly established ranchos, with little improvement in their living conditions.

Around 1906 Alfred L. Kroeber and Constance G. Du Bois of the University of California, Berkeley first applied the term “Mission Indians” to Southern California Native Americans as an ethnographic and anthropological label to include those at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and south.

Today it is also sometimes used for Northern California Native Americans, to include populations at the eleven Northern California missions, Mission San Miguel Arcángel and north.

List of Missions

These tribes were associated with the following Missions, Asisténcias, and Estáncias:

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, in San Luis Obispo
Mission La Purísima Concepción, northeast of Lompoc
Mission Santa Inés, in Solvang
Mission Santa Barbara, in Santa Barbara
Mission San Buenaventura, in Ventura
Mission San Fernando Rey de España, in Mission Hills (Los Angeles)
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, in San Gabriel
Mission San Juan Capistrano, in San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, in Oceanside
Mission San Diego de Alcalá, in San Diego
Santa Ysabel Asistencia, founded in 1818 in Santa Ysabel
San Antonio de Pala Asistencia (Pala Mission), founded in 1816 in eastern San Diego County
San Bernardino de Sena Estancia, founded in 1819 in Redlands
Santa Ana Estancia, founded in 1817 in Costa Mesa
Las Flores Estancia (Las Flores Asistencia), founded in 1823 in Camp Pendleton

List of Mission Indian Tribes Today

Current Mission Indian tribes include the following in Southern California:

Agua Caliente Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Augustine Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Barona Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Cabazon Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Cahuilla Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Campo Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Costanoan Band of Carmel Mission Indians (Ohlone)
Cuyapaipe Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Inaja and Cosmit Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Jamul Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Laguna Band of Mission Indians of the Laguna Reservation)
La Jolla Band of Mission Indians (Luiseño)
La Posta Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Los Coyotes Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla and Cupeño)
Manzanita Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Morongo Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla, Serrano and Cupeño)
Mission Creek Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Pala Band of Mission Indians (Cupeño and Luiseño)
Pauma Band of Mission Indians (Luiseño)
Pechanga Band of Mission Indians (Luiseño)
Ramona Band or Village of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (Serrano)
San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Santa Rosa Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians (Chumash)
Santa Ysabel Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Soboba Band of Mission Indians (Luiseño)
Sycuan Band of Mission Indians (Kumeyaay/Diegueño)
Torres-Martinez Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians (Chemehuevi)

Related Articles:

Chinigchinich, religious God of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians
Description of the Vanquech or Temple
Juaneño Band of Mission Indians Puberty Rites
Juaneño Band of Mission Indians Marriage Customs
Juaneño Band of Mission Indians Principal Feasts and Dances
Superstitions of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians

Other California Tribes


Article Index:

Four tribal groupings make up the indigenous Indians of San Diego County

Four tribal groupings make up the indigenous Indians of San Diego County: the Kumeyaay/Diegueño, the Luiseño, the Cupeño, and the Cahuilla.

The Diegueño are the largest group, and are classified in the Yuman language family, Hokan stock. They are divided into the Ipai (the northern dialectical form) and the Tipai (the southern dialectical form). The Southern Diegueño are known in their language as the Kumeyaay. 

Some research shows that the Kumeyaay are the same as the Kamia, which are the Yuman-speaking Indians of Imperial County, over the mountains east of San Diego County.

The Luiseño, Cupeño, and Cahuilla Indians belong to the Cupan subgroup of the Takic language family of Uto-Aztecan. This language is sometimes called Southern California Shoshonean. They live in the northern part of San Diego County, and are related linguistically and culturally to the Juaneno, Gabrielino, Serrano, and Kitanemuk Indians.

The Cahuilla are primarily in the desert areas of Riverside County, although they occupy the far northeasternmost reservation of San Diego County, called Los Coyotes.

All of the Indians who traditionally lived in the San Diego area when the Spanish arrived in 1769 are called Mission Indians.

There are 18 Indian reservations in San Diego County, more than in any other county in the United States. However, most people have only heard of the reservations with successful bingo and gaming operations, which are the reservations of Sycuan, Barona, and Viejas.

The 1990 Census of Population and Housing lists around 2,200 Indians living on 17 of the reservations in the County, although there are many others living in the urban areas.

The reservations may be divided by the following tribal groups, or rancherias.


Barona, Campo, Capitan Grande (unoccupied), Cuyapaipe, Inaja-Cosmit, Jamul, La Posta, Manzanita, Mesa Grande, San Pasqual, Santa Ysabel, Sycuan, and Viejas.


La Jolla, Pauma, and Rincon




Los Coyotes

Missions of California

The twenty-one Spanish missions of California established by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order between 1769 and 1834, were supposed to expand Christianity among the Native Americans living in the area.

The local natives were forcibly relocated from their traditional dwellings, villages, and homelands to live and work at the missions as virtual slaves.