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Mechoopda Maidu Indians


The Mechoopda: A Historical Overview

Mechoopda was a village community formerly located on Little Butte Creek, about 3 miles south of today's downtown Chico. The people of Mechoopda spoke a language related to Maidu, one of the more than 175 languages and dialects once spoken in native California.

Mechoopda oral tradition does not include a story of migration, but rather makes reference to the beginnings of this world at a place known as Tadoiko, a few miles south of the village. It was here that a raft carrying Kodoyampeh (Earth Maker) and Turtle first came ashore on the soft, newly created earth. A large depression was visible there for centuries until leveled for agriculture in the early 20th century.

By 1850, following John Bidwell's acquisition of the Spanish Land Grant, Rancho Arroyo Chico, the Mechoopda moved to a former summer camp site located on the south side of Chico Creek near First and Flume Streets in what is now downtown Chico. A few years later the village was moved downstream, closer to Bidwell's residence. In 1868, the village was moved mile west to its final location, eventually becoming the Chico Rancheria.

The people called this last settlement Bahapki ("unsifted"), rather than Mechoopda, because Indians from several different villages, and neighboring tribes, resided there as members of the Rancho Arroyo Chico work force.


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