Indigenous Peoples Day and the Clovis connection

Photo Destiny De La Cruz, Clovis Roundup

October 10, 2023 – The City of Clovis was built on Yokuts territory. Some of the other nearby Indigenous peoples are the Mono, Chukchansi, and Miwok.

Usage of the term is disputed, and many years ago there were several distinct subgroups. Yokuts lived all over Central California. Previously, they were sometimes called Mariposas or Mariposans.

The Clovis – Big Dry Creek Museum has a display of Native American artifacts and photos, largely from the Mono tribe.

The Clovis history museum’s Indigenous display includes; a large mortar and pestle, weaved basketry, moccasins, soap stone carvings, stone raw hide scrapers, bone needles, arrowheads and arrows, arrow shafts made from bison ribs, a small mortar (stone bowl) filled with two types of acorns, beaded jewelry, a soap root brush (North Fork Mono and Chukchansi), and more.

There’s even an artifact marked “Paiute”. Paiute is a general term for many different Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin—Mono included. Most of the Paiute languages are related to the Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Nahuatl language family. 

According to the Tachi Yokut Tribe, “We believe the tribe along with others belonged to the first groups that settled in California. They are called the seed-gatherers because they did no farming at all in the days before Columbus. Their main food was acorns,”

“The Yokuts also ate wild plants, roots, and berries. They hunted deer, rabbits, prairie dogs, and other small mammals and birds. They made simple clothing out of bark and grass. Their jewelry and headbands were made of seeds and feathers. The Yokuts found life in the California valleys to be pleasant and peaceful for many centuries.”

The website is a great resource to find out what native territory you are living on. On their website, it also provides information on Territory Acknowledgement. Within the study of cultural anthropology, this is sometimes called Land Acknowledgement, or “Honor Native Land.”

In practice, a territory acknowledgement looks like opening events and gatherings by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of that land.

Fresno State offers an interdisciplinary program called American Indian Studies (AIS). “American Indian Studies honors the Yokut and Mono peoples whose diverse tribal communities share stewardship over this land,” Students are able to major or minor in American Indian Studies.

“The AIS program is made up of faculty with backgrounds and expertise in federal-Indian law, Indigenous histories, oral traditions and literatures, NAGPRA, cultural preservation, Indian Education, archaeology, tribal administration, cultural studies, and American Indian affairs.”

Fresno City College campus features Yokuts Plaza, complete with a stone monument. The monument reads, “This area is dedicated to the Yokuts and Mono tribes and their ancestors,”

“Since time immemorial these indigenous nations have occupied the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Foothills developing distinctive cultures that have emphasized a love for the land and community. We are proud to say Fresno City College sits on Native land. This monument is to acknowledge and appreciate their cultural and historical legacy.”

The monument was dedicated by the Cultural/Women’s Studies Department, President Tony Cantu, Dr. Bernard Navarro, Professor John Cho, and Artist Erik Esconvedo in 2014.

Indigenous Peoples Day is often celebrated in place of Columbus Day—both to honor Indigenous people and also in response to the brutality and “depopulation” perpetrated by Christopher Columbus against Indigenous people. Indigenous Peoples Day has been celebrated for over three decades.

Remembering our history is integral to the Clovis way of life, and Indigenous history is Clovis history.

Destiny De La Cruz is a budding journalist with a passion for photojournalism. As a Fresno State alumni, she earned a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication & Journalism, the Film & Media Arts option with a minor in Anthropology. She has an interest in all things film, food, literature & outdoors.