How did the Lytton Indians get their name?

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Question:

Why are the Lytton Indians named as such? I am a Lytton and I am curious why these Indians were named after a very British surname.

–Submitted by James L.

Answer:


There are two Indian tribes that bear the name Lytton, one in the United States and one in Canada.

The First Nation Lytton Band No. 705 is located at the confluence of the Fraser & Thompson Rivers in British Columbia, Canada. The Lytton First Nation speaks the Ntlakyapumuk language and is affiliated with the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council.

Living along the banks of the Fraser River in southwestern British Columbia, the Nlaka’pamux people have had a long history of contact with non-Aboriginal peoples. In 1808 they hosted Simon Fraser as an overnight guest. Later they watched as fur traders searched for transport routes through the mountains of the Fraser Canyon, and saw miners, settlers, and merchants flood into their country during and after the gold rush. Since then, the Nlaka’pamux have found themselves in the path of the Cariboo Road, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and virtually every other commercial and province-building initiative undertaken in the region.

The original site of the community was called “Chamin”, meaning either “cross mouth” (referring to crossing the mouth of the Thompson River), or “shelf that crosses over”. On November 11, 1858, Governor Douglas named the settlement after Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Secretary of State for the Colonies. The reserve land was allotted by Commissioner O’Reilly on August 24, 1881.

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians are located in California, USA. Captain William H. Litton, who developed the property now know as the Salvation Army’s Lytton Adult Rehabilitation Center, on Lytton Springs Road, acquired a large tract of land in 1860 that extended from the southernmost boundaries of Geyserville to the northern limits of the fledgling town of Healdsburg, California with the Russian River serving as is eastern boundary. This property was originally part of the Sotoyome Rancho land grant. He built a resort hotel on grounds that contained medicinal mineral springs and it soon became known as “Litton Springs” or “Litton Station.” It appears the name was changed in error by a draftsman or some other official on property records in 1896, and it has been spelled Lytton ever since.

In the late 1880s the Lytton Springs resort became a military academy for rich boys, and later a Pentecostal religious santuary. Pomo Indians who lived in this area became known as the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians.

The Pomos are not actually a tribe in the true sense, but a group of tribelets speaking similar languages and dialects. As with most California Indians, the smashing of the Pomos’ culture by conquest was very complete. Because of this, their culture has often been misunderstood.

The Pomo society had some quite complex and beautiful elements, like an elaborate counting system. Their money was manufactured with exquisite care. The Pomo Indians probably made the finest feathered basket-work ever produced by man, which today have become increasingly rare collector’s items, in addition to very beautiful and complicated dance costumes.

There remains a total of two hundred members in the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the Lytton Indian Community of California. The Lytton band of Pomo Indians is without a land base as a consequence of Termination. This band’s status was reinstated and finallly received Federal Recognition on September 6, 1991.

Other bands of Pomo Indians include the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians of California, Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria, Manchester Band of Pomo Indians of the Manchester-Point Arena Rancheria, Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria, Dry Creek Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California, and the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians of the Hopland Rancheria.

RELATED ARTICLES ON OUR WEB SITE:

Fraser Canyon Histories, 1808-1939

Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians of California

Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria

Dry Creek Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California

LINKS OF THE WEEK:

The Lytton Genealogy Study Group

California Missions

Pomo Indians

California Indian Museum