Chowchilla is a city in Madera County, California, United States. Chowchilla is located 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Madera, at an elevation of 240 feet (73 m). It is a principal city of the Madera–Chowchilla Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 11,127 at the 2000 census. (This number does not include inmates at Central California Women's Facility and Valley State Prison for Women, which are located just outside of the city. ) As of 2009, the population is about 19,051 (this includes the inmates at the Central California Women's Facility and State Prison for Women). Chowchilla continues to grow as there are new housing developments. The name "Chowchilla" is derived from the Native American tribe of Chauchila (the spelling is inconsistent in reference guides) Yokut Indians which once lived in the area. The name itself evidently translates as "Murderers" and is apparently a reference to the warlike nature of the Chauchila tribe. The Chauchila Indians were inadvertently responsible for the first white men "discovering" Yosemite Valley, which occurred when the Chauchila Indians were being pursued by a band of whites. References to the Indian tribe still abound in Chowchilla, and the town's high school still retains the moniker of "Redskins" as their local mascot.