Big Sandy Rancheria

The Big Sandy Rancheria of Mono Indians of California is a ranchería and federally recognized tribe of Western Mono Indians (Monache) located in Fresno County, California, United States.[4] As of the 2010 Census the population was 118.[5] In 1909, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) bought 280 acres of land for the Big Sandy Band of Western Mono Indians.[6]

Big Sandy Rancheria
of Mono Indians
Total population
96 enrolled members[1]
Regions with significant populations
United States ( California)
English, Western Mono[2]
Traditional tribal religion, formerly Ghost Dance[3]
Related ethnic groups
Other Mono tribes


The Big Sandy Rancheria, located just outside the community of Auberry, in Fresno County, is 228 acres (0.92 km2) large. In 1990, 38 tribal members lived on the reservation.[3] In 2009, approximately 158 out of 495 enrolled tribal members lived on the reservation. The reservation is very secluded, and the tribal headquarters is situated within a ring of houses.[7]


In 1909, the BIA purchased 280 acres of land for the Big Sandy Band of Western Mono Indians. It was bought in order to provide the tribe with a secure home where they could grow their food, have cattle, and be free from attacks by non-Indians.

In 1958, Congress enacted the California Rancheria Termination Act which affected 41 California rancherias, which also included Big Sandy Rancheria. It terminated the trust status of the lands and Indian status. In 1966, Big Sandy Rancheria organized the BSR Association because of this act. The BSR Association was formed so they could receive common property and be able to approve the distribution plan made by the BIA for the termination of the rancheria. The plan said that a portion of the rancheria wwould beas given to the American Baptist Home Mission Society as part of the land exchange done by the society and BIA. The distribution plan did not make any plans for improving the r'sancheria housing, water, sanitation, or irrigation.

The tribe approved the BIA's distribution plan without knowing their rights and obligations, advantages and disadvantages of agreeing with the termination, or other options they could have taken. After the approval of the distribution plan by Big Sandy members, the BIA revoked their status with the federal government. The BIA never fulfilled the rest of the agreements of the Rancheria Act other than preparing the distribution plan itself. The rancheria was terminated and its members were ineligible for federal services provided by the BIA. The termination of the rancheria was damaging and had a big impact on the social and economic development of the tribe. This was unfortunate because during their termination the federal government was providing programs to directly assist the Indian tribes. During this time housing conditions, low income, high unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, and low education attainment worsened. These problems are still seen today.

In 1983, the United States District Court Action officially restored the BSR as an Indian Country and the people of the tribe were once again federally recognized Indians. Members holding land in accordance with the BIA distribution plan were able to return their land to trust status whenever they wanted and also the Association's properties.[8]

Government and administration

Big Sandy Rancheria's tribal headquarters is located in Auberry, California. They are governed by a democratically elected, five-person tribal council. General Council meetings are the last Sunday of each quarter and Tribal Council meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month.[9]

As of 1958, the Auberry Band of the Mono people was called ?unaħpaahtyħ , "that which is on the other side (of the San Joaquin River)" in the Mono language,[10] or Unapatɨ Nɨm ("across (the Joaquin River) people").

As of 2017 their chairperson is Elizabeth D. Kipp and their Vice Chairperson is Miles Baty. Patricia Soto is treasurer, Regina Riley is Secretary, and Sharon Baty Simpson is Member at Large. The tribal administration has three departments: Family Activities, Head Start, and Finance. James Collins is the tribal administrator, the family activities director is Alena Dondero, the Head Start director is Johanna Leal, and Leann Anguiano is the finance manager.[9]

Economic development and enterprises

The tribe owns and operates the Mono Wind Casino and Broken Arrow Restaurant in Auberry.[11]

They operate BSR Fuel Distribution in Auberry. They sell diesel and gasoline products.[12]

BSR fuel distribution practices nation-to-nation trade and thus strengthens tribal relationships. It allows tribes and rancherias to buy fuel products and transact directly with one sovereign Native American government to another. This form of trade prevents state interference and thus not prevents having to pay state taxes on fuel products.[13]

Trading with other tribes helps Big Sandy Rancheria keep their tax revenue funds for their own reservation and people. The funds are used to help the community with programs such as healthcare/medical, elder care, native education programs, hardship funds, housing, and the tribal's infrastructure.[14] The programs and services that Big Sandy Rancheria offers their tribal members are to help them grow and achieve self-sufficiency.

See also


  1. "California Indians and Their Reservations: Big Sandy Rancheria." San Diego State University Library and Information Access. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  2. Eargle, 88
  3. Pritzker, 136
  4. California Indians and Their Reservations. Archived 2010-01-10 at the Wayback Machine SDSU Library and Information Access. (retrieved 17 May 2010)
  5. Staff, Website Services & Coordination. "2010 Census Interactive Population Map (Text Version) - U.S. Census Bureau".
  6. "Welcome to Big Sandy". Big Sandy Rancheria. Big Sandy Rancheria. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  7. Eargle, 101
  8. "Big Sandy Rancheria History". Big Sandy Rancheria. Big Sandy Rancheria. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  9. "Government & Administration". Big Sandy Rancheria. Big Sandy Rancheria. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  10. Sydney M. Lamb. 1957. Mono Grammar. University of California. Berkeley PhD dissertation .pdf
  11. "Mono Wind Casino." 500 Nations. (retrieved 17 May 2010)
  12. "BSR Fuel Distribution". BSR Fuels. BSR Fuel Distribution. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  13. "Nation to Nation trade". BSR Fuels. BSR Fuel Distribution. Archived from the original on 21 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  14. "Tribal trade advantages". BSR Fuels. BSR Fuel Distribution. Archived from the original on 21 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.


  • Eargle, Jr., Dolan H. California Indian Country: The Land and the People. San Francisco: Tree Company Press, 1992. ISBN 0-937401-20-X.
  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.

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