Mechoopda tribe member leads historical tour of Chico State's campus

Chico State is more than just a college campus. It holds ancient history of Native American tribes that lived on and owned the land. Last Wednesday, Chico State students and community members gathered outside Laxson Auditorium for the Native American historical walk.

 Mechoopda tribe member Ali Medders-Knight described the history behind the campus and the struggles Native American tribes endured  while dealing with liberation.

“This land has a rich history that dates back 10,000 years,” said Medders-Knight.

Chico used to encompass 25 tribal villages with 150-200 people living in them. One Mechoopda residential area was located in the area where the farmer’s market takes place, but the main Mechoopda housing hub was located where Konkow and Mechoopda dorms are located.

When a smallpox outbreak occurred, a majority of the villagers died and the villages were consolidated.

“On West Sacramento is the Mechoopda cemetery. People were buried with artifacts and unidentified graves,” said Medders-Knight.

Eventually, John Bidwell bought the land from John Potter. According to Medders-Knight, he Indians became slaves enduring hard labor such as logging, herding horses, planting and working at the mansion.

“This area was dependent on slavery to be built, but the tribes lost their land because of thievery,” she said.

Courtney Chacon senior kinesiology major and Monica Philips sophomore English major were stunned at Chico’s past and the historical sites left behind.

“It’s a tragic thing to hear about the lost and devastation but it’s interesting to know the secrets my school holds,” said Philips.

Chacon said, “I’ve never know this about Chico but it’s important to know that Native American history was significantly involved in shaping our town.”

After many years the tribe became reinstated with a constitution and tribal office.

“The purpose of this walk is to get the truth out about where we live and the history behind it. It’s a healing process because this happened to my family,” said Medders-Knight.


Jennifer Jacobs can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.