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The Nisenan are a group of Native Americans and an Indigenous people of California from the California Central Valley. Some Nisenan people today are enrolled in the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, a federally recognized tribe.[1]


The name Nisenan, derives from the ablative plural pronoun nisena·n, "from among us".[2]

The Nisesan have been called the Southern Maidu and Valley Maidu. While the term Maidu is still used widely, Maidu is an over-simplification of a very complex division of smaller groups or bands of American Indians.

Social organization

Nisenan, as with many of the tribes of central California, is not a strict political distinction, but are a group that shared a common language, with a wide spectrum on similar dialects. The Nisenan people historically have no been a unified polity but instead a number of small, self-sufficient, autonomous communities. Each community spoke a different variation of the Nisenan language, which has led to some inconsistency among the linguistic data on the language.


The Nisenan lived in the Central Valley of California, between the Sacramento River to the west and the Sierra Mountains to the east. The southern reach went to about Cosumnes River but north of Elk Grove and the Meadowview and Pocket regions of Sacramento, and the northern reach somewhere between the northern fork of the Yuba River and the southern fork of the Feather River.

Neighboring tribes included the Valley and North Sierra Miwok to the south, the Washoe to the east, the Konkow and Maidu to the north, and the Patwin to the west.


  1. ^ "Our Heritage." Archived 2014-01-03 at the Wayback Machine. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  2. ^ Mithun, Marianne (2001). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 455. ISBN 978-0-521-29875-9. 

External links

  • Placer County Museum
  • Nevada City Rancheria

See also

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