An Overview by Richard E. Marshall June 17th, 1992

As early as 1500, the area along Elk Slough, also known as Elkhorn Slough, was inhabited by the Ylamne, a Miwok indian tribelet. A Miwok speaking people, they were related by marriage and military alliances to other Miwokan tribelets nearby as well as several along the Consumnes River, near the city of Elk Grove. Inhabiting the area until 1836, the group was severely impacted by the outbreak of malaria which caused widespread death throughout the Delta Region.

Shortly after California became a state the federal government, by the passage of the “Arkansas Act’ in 1850*, granted by patent to each state for the purpose of reclamation, all unsold swamp and overflowed lands within the latter’s boundaries. The fees collected from the sale of the land was to be applied to the reclamation of the lands.

In 1855, California passed an act providing for the sale of these lands at $1.00 per acre with payments over five years, a 320 acre limit, and, when paid over time, at least one-half of the land had to be reclaimed within the said period or otherwise forfeited. Only a few thousand acres were sold under this act. The act of 1855 was repealed and another act was passed in 1858 which abolished the credit system and the obligation to reclaim one-half of the land. The $1.00 per acre payments were placed in a swamp land fund with no provision for reclamation. In 1859 the acreage limitation was increased from 320 acres to 640 acres. In addition, terms of 20% down and five years to pay were allowed on the balance.

*Reclamation Board, 4th Biennial Report of 1918