We cannot help but reflect on days gone by when looking at this rare picture of Millerton in 1870. A Dumna Village is seen on the shore edge of the San Joaquin River, Kuyu Illik, now sadly enough under the waters of Millerton Lake State Recreation Area. The center of the Dumna territory was at Millerton, their largest village, the territory for the Dumna’s extends to present day Table Mountain Rancheria.
Kuyu-Illik was the main village (largest village, a-tbu) and home to Chief Tom Kit and his family, the Dumna people. The Kechayi Village, Aho-lu’l, was just north of the Dumna’s, Tom Kit’s relation; Gai-da-na was Chief. There was another village along the river edge, considered Kechayi Territory, Taka-tipao
The Aho-lu village was right along the edge of the San Joaquin River and unlike some of the other Tribes across the river, the Kechayi and the Dumna’s were particularly strong in swimming. The story told by Yet-choo-nook, with great pride to Anna Gayton, is that her people led by her father would carry the Chukchansi people on their back and swim them across the river..”they no good swimmers, Kechayi the best swimmers”. Coiled baskets were used for the young, ta’okach. The swimmer would push the basket with one arm while using the other arm for his stroke. Frank Latta writes of the Mayfield Family, in the book they were assisted across the San Joaquin River by “friendly bathers and fishermen” these people were the Dumna’s and the Kechayi people. Yet-choo-nook goes on to say, if the Kechayi were mad at the Chukchansi, they would not bring them across the river, leaving them stranded to fend for themselves and one can assume consequences were not happy. The Kechayi realized they had strong abilities with the water and excellent prowess for fishing and being the best of all salmon fishermen. They soon began a business and selling their catch. This was the day when salmon was the main stronghold of the San Joaquin River.
Life s we see it in this photo was the beginning of the end for our people as the white man came upon the rich, peaceful living of the Yokuts Indians, lead by Supreme Leader of many of the Tribes in the San Joaquin, Chief Tom Kit. Their lives would never be the same with the intrusion of the Spanish, the gold miner, government soldiers and the government interference and as fate brings to all, progress.
We were shuttled from Rancheria to Rancheria, Reservation to Reservation and finally settling on Ancestral Land, Table Mountain Rancheria, which was created by the Federal Government for displaced Indians, Indians that were taken from their ancestral lands. Table Mountain Rancheria was and continues to be a Rancheria for displaced Indians. Table Mountain Rancheria and lands in question are ancestral lands of the Dumna/Kechayi and Pitkache people. Pitkache Chief on these ancestral lands was the grandfather to the Dumna Chief, eventually becoming Supreme Leader of Tribes on the San Joaquin River.
The Dumna/Kechayi Tribes are petitioning for Recognition and presently working with the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the California Native American Heritage Commission. We are not asking for enrollment in Table Mountain and are not connected to any coalition pursuing these efforts; our focus is accurately portraying the historical facts. We wish Sovereignty and Recognition and wish the Table Mountain Rancheria and county to work with us, rather than alienate us, if our history continues to be used.
WB Secrest, Jr Illustration "Fresno County-The Pioneering Years-From the Beginnings to 1900" Charles W. Clough & William B Secrest, Jr, pg 68 1984