ContentsPutah and Cache: Capay Valley

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Rumsey Rancheria

Robert Thayer

As you pull off the road by the Cache Creek Casino, you can't help but notice the contrast between the east side's busy parking lot full of busses and cars to and the west side's spectacular stretch of walnut trees, prime agricultural fields and distant Blue Ridge. In the 1980's, interpretations of federal law allowed Native American reservations to establish gambling casinos. Fifty or so Wintun natives remained in the Capay Valley on the Rumsey Indian Rancheria, which is geographically split, with a small area near Rumsey and a larger tract near Brooks. Few of the Rumsey band can actually trace their lineage to the Capay Valley's former Patwin people—as late as 1976, the Bureau of Indian Affairs could only document eleven living Patwin in the entire country. However, the Rumsey Wintuns, originally from farther up the Sacramento Valley, built a casino, which has become a lively spot on an otherwise sparsely populated Highway 16.

The Rumsey Wintun Band has instituted a "good neighbor" policy, donating considerable sums of money toward local law enforcement, the local native American college, DQU, and to organizations like the former Sacramento Symphony and many other charities. Controversies over future expansion plans for the rancheria and casino have been worked out amicably, with participation from neighbors, and passage of Proposition 5 in 1998 allowed expansion of the Cache Creek facility to become one of the largest in the state. Some non-native people (and some indigenous people as well) may object to gambling-oriented development, but regardless of one's opinions, the casino has allowed a degree of autonomy for these native people that had been denied them for the last 150 years. Step inside for a glimpse of the action.

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Lower Cache Creek