Tule River Reservation
Entrance to the Tule River Reservation
Entrance to the Tule River Reservation

No one knows exactly how long people have lived in Mighty 190 Country, but archeological records and other evidence clearly point to thousands of years before the “discovery” of California by Spanish soldiers who came with missionaries to colonize the coastal areas beginning in 1769.

Many modern-day residents of the Tule River Indian Reservation descended from the native people who lived in the same area before entry by miners and settlers in the mid 1800's. Others were forced to move to the reservation from other areas of Central California and the Eastern Sierra.

The story of how the native people of the region came under government control and were forced to live on reservations is long and sad, in part because the Federal government did not live up to its promises.

The reservation was first located in what is now East Porterville at the site of present-day Alta Vista School. It was later established on the South Fork of the Tule River. Its location must have seemed much more distant in the horse and buggy days of 1873. Today, the reservation can be reached by way of a windy mountain road. Its headquarters is located about 17 miles outside of Porterville.

The modern history of the Tule River Reservation began in 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This act restored the authority of Indians to govern themselves. A constitution was written and elections held to form a Tribal Government. Elections are still held each January and the Tribe is governed as a sovereign nation by a nine-person Tribal Council.

The current Tribal Chairman is Neil Peyron.

Many years passed on the Tule River Reservation with a Tribal government but very little money for its operation. Unemployment was as high as 80 percent. Many young people had to leave the reservation to find work. Tribal elders recall that there was little hope of a better future, but many kept working to improve conditions.

Loss of valuable Tribal timberlands was eventually overcome in 1980 when years of effort by tribal leaders resulted in President Jimmy Carter signing a law that returned 1240 acres of timberland to the tribe. The Tribe continues efforts to secure adequate water for the Reservation.

Careful management of its timber resources helped the Tribe in its effort to create economic opportunity with funds from the timber program going to purchase land at the Porterville Airport that has been developed into an industrial park. Today the Tribe is involved in an exciting aviation operation.

In 1996, the tribe opened Eagle Mountain Casino and has since expanded that operation twice. Gaming revenue has helped the tribe considerably, reducing unemployment on the reservation and in the surrounding area. Many new homes and facilities, including a gymnasium, health center, and child care center, have been built on the reservation since 1996, using a combination of gaming revenues and other funds.

The Tribe has land on Highway 190 near Success Lake that has been put into trust and currently has plans to build a visitor-serving complex at that location including a gasoline station.

The improved economic situation has gone hand-in-hand with a cultural renaissance as tribal programs have been expanded to encourage youth to learn native songs and crafts and to regain knowledge of a native language.

Visitors are welcome on the Tule River Reservation. Camping and fishing is allowed in certain areas by permit. Care must be taken to keep out of areas designated for tribal access only.

For more information contact Tule River Tribal headquarters, (559) 781-4271. You can learn more about the Tule River Tribe at its website:

www.tulerivertribe-nsn.gov

 
 
Copyright © 2006-17 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.