River Rock Casino News

View of Alexander Valley

Posted in Sonoma County


Nestled along the Russian River between Healdsburg and Cloverdale, the Alexander Valley has a rich history growing and harvesting grapes for wine. In 1846, Cyrus Alexander for whom the Valley is named planted the region's first vineyard. Today 13,000 acres of vineyards supply more than 25 local wineries. The region has earned a reputation for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay grapes in the world. But hundreds of years before Alexander began planting vineyards in the area, indigenous people cared for, protected, and lived off the land.


The Pomo are not one tribe, but approximately 21 independent communities speaking seven different language dialects. All groups have ties to Northern California and primarily reside in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties. Settlement in the Dry Creek area by the Southern Pomo, called the Mihila Kawna and Makahmo, was evident by 500 A.D. Descendants of these ancient inhabitants survive and continue to live as a tribe in the Alexander Valley, and are known as the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.

Historically, Pomo groups relied on the abundant fish, game, and plants of the region. This hunter and gatherer lifestyle enabled the Pomo to survive through the year. The abundance of natural resources meant Pomo were able to enjoy a comfortable and affluent existence. The Dry Creek people used hundreds of regional plants and game for food, but the primary foodstuff was acorns, which they gathered, stored, and processed throughout the season.