The Chicken Ranch Rancheria Me–Wuk Indians of California and the Tuolumne Band of Me–Wuk Indians have announced their partnership in sponsoring the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, home to the Mother Lode Fair and Mother Lode Round-Up, among other events. As part of the partnership, the main John Muir building has been renamed the Me-Wuk Tribes of Tuolumne County building.
Members from both Tribal Councils met at the fairgrounds July 7 for the unveiling of the new signage. It was a moment that held special meaning for both Tribal Chairmen.
“The Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians is truly honored to be part of the renaming of the John Muir Building to the Me-Wuk Tribes of Tuolumne County,” said Kevin Day, Tribal Chairman of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians. “Me-Wuk Tribes have resided in the Motherlode for time immemorial and were living in the Yosemite Valley up until the time it was designated as a National Park. If you research the history of the Tribes in the region, we were systematically removed from our ancestral lands, like Yosemite, so the renaming of the building to the Me-Wuk Tribes of Tuolumne County shows how positive the relationship has become between Tuolumne County and the Tribes. We encourage education to the plight of the Me-Wuk Tribes in Yosemite and the Motherlode.”
Chicken Ranch Rancheria Tribal Chairman, Lloyd Mathiesen, echoed Mr. Day’s sentiment.
“Our main goal for our continued sponsorship with the Mother Lode Fairgrounds is to not be a part of something that celebrates the name of a man who worked to tear down our people.”
Though Muir is widely known as “the father of the national parks” and was pivotal in their establishment, he also supported the extraction of indigenous peoples from their native lands in the name of maintaining a “balance of nature,” an effort that eventually became a widespread practice stretching from Yosemite to Yellowstone and beyond.