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Nisenan first settlers of Clover Valley

Rocks, Rails and Ranches
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Editor?s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the history of Clover Valley. The northeastern Sacramento Valley and nearby Sierra foothills of the early 19th century were home to the Nisenan, a southern tribe of the Maidu culture. Many Nisenan moved seasonally between the valley floor and the foothills. Archeological evidence shows that Rocklin?s Clover Valley was probably one of the most densely populated areas at times. In the late 1820?s Euro-Americans established camps on Nisenan lands, bringing their diseases with them. In 1833 about 75 percent of the Nisenan perished from a plague, possibly malaria, brought by Hudson?s Bay Company trappers. Some of the Nisenan survivors fled into the hills. A few stayed behind and joined other tribes working at Sutter?s Fort in the late 1830?s, but the Nisenan were never missionized. The gold rush brought hoards of Euro-Americans to the Sierra foothills and the ensuing widespread destruction of Nisenan villages as well as persecution and killing of the Nisenan permanently disrupted their culture and depopulated Clover Valley. However, in the late 19th century, Joel Parker Whitney befriended and regularly had contact with a small band of Clover Valley Nisenan at his Spring Valley Ranch on the west side of Boulder Ridge. Whitney fed the Nisenan, observed and wrote about their customs, including their method of harvesting and drying grasshoppers and their mud bathing rituals. Sadly, the last vestiges of Nisenan lifestyle had disappeared from Clover Valley and elsewhere in the Rocklin area by 1904. Next time: Clover Valley in modern times.