The Northern Maidu in Plumas County
The Northern Maidu, native inhabitants of Plumas and surrounding counties, occupied the Feather River region and its many tributaries. The terrain is mostly forested ridges dotted with high lakes and green valleys. Big Meadows is now Lake Almanor. Indian Valley, Genesee, American, and Sierra valleys are now occupied by Plumas County settlements, but once were occupied solely by the Maidu. The areas to the east, namely Mohawk and Sierra valleys, were claimed for hunting grounds, containing few, if any, permanent villages due to heavy winter snow.
View a collection of archival photographs of the Northern Maidu in Plumas County.
The Maidu language is part of the Penutian language family and is closely related to the Konkow and Nisenan dialects. It is a spoken language only, and there exists no written history of the Maidu before the arrival of Euro-Americans. The tribal name "Maidu" means simply "the people."
The Maidu lived along the edges of valleys in small settlements, usually of a hundred people or less. There was no overall tribal organization throughout the region. There was also no private ownership of land, but each group generally remained within its own valley. Frequently they would migrate into the mountains to hunt or gather food in the warm seasons, then return to their villages in the valleys with the arrival of the winter snows. In winter the cedar bark K'um served as the main family home. Their village sites were picked to afford protection from strong winds and flooding streams and to be in the proximity of game and plants. The Maidu lived with their environment and were guided in much of their culture by nature's forces.
Annual Events & Celebrations
Much can be learned from studying how the native Maidu harmoniously lived with respect for the land. Various events are held annually, recalling and preserving customs and traditions. The Northern Sierra Indian Days are held in September in Greenville. Call Plumas County Arts Commission at (530) 283-3402 for more information.
Source: Excerpts are from Mary Dunn and James McMillan, "The Northeastern Maidu (Plumas Memories No. 8)"; Kenneth Kolb, "The Maidu Indians of Plumas County"; and Marie Potts, "The Northern Maidu."
Resources Available on Northern Maidu
Numerous publications, photos, a video, and displays are available at the Plumas County Museum. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the Northern Maidu of Plumas County, please call the Plumas County Museum at (530) 283-6320.