Nome Cult Trail

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The Nome Cult Trail is a northern Californian historic trail located in present-day Mendocino National Forest which goes along Round Valley Road and through Rocky Ridge and the Sacramento Valley. It is also known as the Koncow Trail of Tears. On August 28, 1863 all Konkow Maidu were to be at the Bidwell Ranch in Chico to be taken to the Round Valley Reservation at Covelo in Mendocino County. Any Native Americans remaining in the area were to be shot. 435 Maidu were rounded up and marched under guard west out of the Sacramento Valley and through to the Coastal Range. 461 Indians started the trek, 277 finished. They reached Round Valley on September 18, 1863.


The trail was originally used during the mid-19th century to relocate Native American tribes to the Nome Lackee Indian Reservation near Paskenta, California. The Nomlaki were first placed there in 1854 in an effort to control the tribe as well as protect them from recently arriving settlers.

After five children of local settlers were murdered,[1] 461 members of the Concow Maidu were rounded up and, on September 4, 1863, forced to march over 100 miles (160 km) from Chico, California to the Round Valley Indian Reservation. Escorted by 23 US cavalrymen under the command of Captain Augustus Starr, many elderly or sick could not continue the trip during the ascent from the Sacramento Valley into the Coast Ranges. After the party stayed at Mountain House between September 12–14, about 150 members were left behind. When news of this reached Fort Wright, the commandant Captain Douglas sent Superintendent James Short to bring food to those dying along the trail and several wagon teams to bring them back to the fort. After 13 days, Short was able to save only "a portion of them." According to a later report, Short described the horrific scene:

"..about 150 sick Indians were scattered along the trail for 50 miles...dying at the rate of 2 or 3 a day. They had nothing to eat ... and the wild hogs were eating them up either before or after they were dead." [2]

Continuing on, the Maidu were forced to climb 6,000 ft (1,800 m) before their eventual descent into Round Valley. During the journey, mothers reportedly tried to kill their babies fearing they too would be abandoned if they were to die as well. Only slightly more than half of the original 461 members survived the march. Along with the 150 left behind at Mountain House, 32 others died en route and two others who escaped before the remaining 277 eventually arrived at the reservation on September 18. Left by the cavalrymen, they had too few supplies for the winter months.[3]

A small 4-mile (6.4 km) section exists and is part of the Nome Cult Mountain House Trail as part of a number of hiking trails in Mendocino National Forest.[4]


  1. ^ Historical Marker for Children of Sam and Mary Lewis
  2. ^ Baumgardner, Frank H. Killing for Land in Early California: Indian Blood at Round Valley. New York: Algora Publishing, 2005. (pg. 212) ISBN 0-87586-364-7
  3. ^ Moon, Debra. Chico: Life and Times of a City of Fortune. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2003. (pg. 36) ISBN 0-7385-2446-8
  4. ^ Massey, Peter; Angela Titus and Jeanne Wilson. California Trails North Coast Region. Hermosa Beach, California: Adler Publishing Company, Inc., 2006. (pg. 56-57) ISBN 1-930193-22-X