The Mattole, including the Bear River Indians, are a group of Native Americans traditionally living on the Mattole and Bear rivers in the vicinity of Cape Mendocino, within the present Humboldt County, California. A notable difference between the Mattole and other indigenous people of what is now northwest California is that the men traditionally had facial tattoos (on the forehead), while other local groups traditionally restricted facial tattooing to women.
Their Wailaki name was Tul'bush, meaning "foreigners." The Bear River Indians called themselves and the Mattole "Ni'ekeni'".
Aboriginal Bear River villages included Tcalko', Chilsheck, Chilenche, Selsche'ech, Tlanko, Estakana, and Sehtla.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber put the 1770 population of the Mattole at 500. Sherburne F. Cook estimated the combined populations of the Mattole, Whilkut, Nongatl, Sinkyone, Lassik, and Kato at 4,700, at least 50% higher than Kroeber's figure for the same groups. Martin A. Baumhoff estimated the aboriginal Mattole-Bear River population as 2,476.
The Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria is now organized as a federally recognized tribe. The tribe publishes the Bear River Bulletin newspaper for its members. Their tribal chairman is Leonard Bowman, and their headquarters is located in Loleta, California. The tribe operates the Bear River Casino, also in Loleta.
- Powers, Stephen (1976) . Tribes of California. Intro. and Annotations by Robert Heizer. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA USA: University of California Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-520-03172-5.
- Powers, Stephen (1976) . Tribes of California. Intro. and Annotations by Robert Heizer. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA USA: University of California Press. p. 109. ISBN 0-520-03172-5.
- Powers, Stephen (1976) . Tribes of California. Intro. and Annotations by Robert Heizer. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA USA: University of California Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-520-03172-5.
- John R. Swanton (1953). The Indian Tribes of North America - California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145. Retrieved 2012-09-04.
- Kroeber, A. L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. Washington, D.C. Page 883.
- Cook, Sherburne F. 1976a. The Conflict between the California Indian and White Civilization. University of California Press, Berkeley.
- Baumhoff, Martin A. 1958. "California Athabascan Groups". Anthropological Records 16:157-238. University of California, Berkeley.
- Tribes. California Nations Indian Gaming Association. (retrieved 24 Feb 2009)
- Bear River Casino. 500 Nations. (retrieved 24 Feb 2009)
- Elsasser, Albert B. 1976. "Mattole, Nongatl, Sinkyone, Lassik, and Wailaki". In California, edited by Robert F. Heizer, pp. 190–204. Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 8, William C. Sturtevant, general editor. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
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