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Fresno Bee and the Yosemite Miwok, I mean Yosemite Paiutes.

Paiute Yosemite story – Fresno Bee article and responses.

Submitted by Yosemite_Indian on Thu, 2008-01-17 01:28.Posted in Politics/Social Action | Yosemite_Indian’s blog »

Fresno Bee does an article about compliants Paiutes have about Yosemite National Park Service working with and helping their current and former Indian employees, the Southern Sierra Miwuks aka the American Indian Council of Mariposa.From the Fresno Bee:

http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/315939.html

Indianz.com:

http://www.indianz.com/News/2008/006598.asp

Same story on Yosemite blog:

http://www.yosemiteblog.com/2008/01/11/paiutes-or-miwok-only-time-remembers/

The Chairman of the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes thought the article was OK because it brought into the light that Yosemite NPS is possibly helping their fellow Indian employees and friends at the Park in their quest for federal recognition. In his opinion any news about Paiutes re-claiming their rightful place in history is better than no news.

Other Paiutes were not so happy and here are their responses to the Fresno Bee article in comments to the story;

The signs in the photos are incorret. They show photos of Paiutes and Yokuts, but claim they are Miwok or Miwok/Paiute. That is what upsets many of the Paiute people. Kathleen Hull states that Tenaya’s father was a Miwok, but during that same time Paiutes and Miwoks were fighting. In other words no Miwoks could’ve gone to Paiute Mono Lake and lived there. He would’ve been killed. In our Paiute legends we have a place called Ahwahnee so how do they explain that. Also in Tenaya’s group he had people from Nevada and maybe some from Oregon. Yes Tenaya’s band was a camposite tribe, a camposite tribe of different Paiute groups. There is no such thing as Nevada and Oregon Miwoks, only Nevada and Oregon Paiutes.

R. Dandridge | Homepage | 01.11.08 – 6:16 pm | #
Kathleen Hull says “Tenaya’s mother was Paiute but his father MAY HAVE BEEN Miwok.” Then she goes on to say “…there’s good reason to believe the Awahnichi were Miwok-speaking people based on the language and various other cultural traits.” May have been is not scientific. It is a guess. Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, who met Tenaya, wrote that Tenaya spoke a Paiute jargon, not Miwok. That the Mono Paiutes considered Tenaya to be one of their own and bragged about his WAR exploits. Now can Hull explain to me when or where did Tenaya speak Miwok? There has never been any account of Tenaya speaking Miwok, only speaking Paiute. Can Hull explain who Chief Tenaya was fighting that he would have “war exploits” for the Paiutes to brag about? Tenaya certainly wasn’t fighting the Monos and Paiutes, but there are recorded accounts of Mono Paiutes fighting Miwoks. So no Miwok man could’ve went to war-like Paiute Mono Lake and live in peace, that is a fantasy promoted by white people. Ahwahnee or Owahnee is also a place in Paiute legends. It was only written that the Miwoks were the scouts and guides for the white miners and militia. The Miwoks had signed the Fremont Treaty EVEN BEFORE The Mariposa Battalion went into Yosemite Valley. It was also written that the white militia could have never discovered Tenaya if not for the help of their Miwok scouts. So the Myth of the Yosemite Miwoks is just that…a myth. The Park also says that they cannot identify the photos yet the photos in question can be identified. The photos in question are titled “Piute” or are of KNOWN Paiute people. So why can’t the Park identify them if they are titled? What the park is doing is putting up a “Yosemite Miwok” story but using photos of known Paiute people. That is the true story here, not some fantasy of the Yosemite Miwoks. Plus the Park is also PAYING the Non-profit Southern Sierra Miwuks over 87,000 dollars to do ‘tasks’ around the park, but does not pay any other Indian group in the area. Why is that? They are not even a federally recognized tribe yet. It is a fact the non-profit Southern Sierra Miwuks are going for a nice big casino in the town of Dublin.
Jake Smith | Homepage | 01.11.08 – 2:10 am | #

Jake again:

Jake Smith
January 11th, 2008 21:57

1

One of our Paiute people contacted the Fresno Bee about the how Yosemite NPS signs and the new Yosemite Visitor center had the story of the Yosemite Miwoks, but used photos of mostly Paiutes. One of the major problems we Paiutes had was with the interpretive signs located at the Lower Yosemite Falls and the Visitor Center. The majority of the Paiute people used in the photos for the Miwok story in Yosemite are not in the Southern Sierra Miwuks. When the reporter finally talked to David Andrews he gave her governmental documentation proving what he was saying was true. The reporter even talked to other Paiutes. Yet when the story came out there was only David Andrews vs four people claiming that the early Yosemite Indians were Miwoks. Not one mention of the Paiutes used as Miwoks in the Visitor Center or the photos of Paiutes used at the sign at Lower Yosemite Falls. No quotes from the other Paiutes. The four who the Bee reporter quoted instead was the spokesman for Yosemite National Park. An anthropologist the Park uses, an man who writes books mentioning the Yosemite Indians as Miwoks and the ex-chairman of the American Indian Council of Mariposa aka the Southern Sierra Miwuks. So basically it was four against one. The story turned from the Paiutes being used incorrectly for Miwok history to 4 people claiming Yosemite was Miwok. You can see the problems we Paiutes have with the Visitor Center by hitting the website link. Scott Gediman claims that there is no proof that photos were of Paiutes, yet their own books and Yosemite Research Library state differently. Kathleen Hull ‘guesses’ that Ahwahnees were Miwoks and she says they spoke Miwok. But if you read Dr. Lafayette Bunnell’s book The Discovery of Yosemite there is no mention that they were Miwoks, but only Paiutes and Monos. The book does say that Tenaya spoke Paiute and that he was the discoverer of the Paiute colony of Ahwahnee. Here is another thing that is not mentioned during that time Paiutes and Miwoks were enemies so no Miwok man could’ve entered Mono Lake and lived in peace before contact. Ahwahnee is also part of our ancient legends. All early writers say that the Mono Paiutes bragged about Tenaya WAR EXPLOITS and claimed him as one of their own. Now explain this to me, WHO WAS TENAYA FIGHTING? It was clearly not the Monos and Paiutes who were in the east. So that would mean he was fighting Miwoks. Chief Bautista, the Miwok chief, even gave the name “Yosemite” to Chief Tenaya’s band. In their language that meant “The Killers” and he said that his people were afraid to enter the Yosemite Valley. The ex-chairman of the Southern Sierra Miwuks Bill Leonard says that the Southern Sierra Miwuks are a combination of Miwok, Paiutes and Yokuts, yet during early times before the white man the three groups were enemies with each other. All three groups are different. Plus today there are already Miwok and Paiute and Yokut tribes in the area. So why would they want to create a tribe of the three combined tribes? Why don’t they just join one of the three that they are from? Oh, because some of them are already enrolled in Yokut, Paiute and Miwoks tribes in the area. One question the reporter should’ve asked Bill Leonard was “Are you are Miwok?” Because Bill Leonard is a Yokut and not a Miwok. At least if they asked David Andrews if he was a Paiute, he would’ve responded “yes”.

another response:

In W. A. Chalfant’s book The Story of Inyo, Chalfant documents Harry Cromwell’s old Paiute creation story of Owahnee (Ahwahnee) a place in our legends that was destroyed and the people scattered. This is how Tenaya’s father and a small group of the Ahwahnee surivivors went to Mono Lake, a Paiute area. There they stayed with their brethren and Tenaya’s father married a Mono Lake Paiute woman. They had Chief Tenaya, and Tenaya grew up among his mother’s people. When he was old enough Tenaya married a Mono Lake Paiute woman and had children. THEN a medicine man advised Tenaya that it was safe to return to the mountains. Tenaya then took his family and about 200 to 300 Indians back into Yosemite Valley and created the PAIUTE colony of Ahwahnee. So this “guess” that they were Miwoks, is a bunch of bull. Miwoks and Paiutes were fighting during that time and Tenaya’s father would have never went to Paiute Mono Lake. If he was Miwok why didn’t he go to the other Miwok areas? When Tenaya was captured by the white military, led by Miwok scouts, it was documented that Tenaya spoke Paiute and had Nevada and Oregon Indians. There are no Nevada and Oregon Miwoks, only Nevada and Oregon Paiutes. It was also documented that the Mono Paiutes bragged about Tenaya’s WAR exploits. Now who was Tenaya and his band fighting if they had Mono Paiutes flanked to their left, Mono Indians below them. That would mean that their enemies were the Miwoks to the west of them. It is white people speaking to the Miwok scouts who got it all wrong. When we Indian people try to tell them that the Miwoks were not the original people of Yosemite, they just don’t GET IT, that is because they don’t know how Indian people think. Most of those people now claiming to be the original Yosemite Indians are in fact the descendents of the Miwoks scouts, guides and gold diggers for the whites and not the real Ahwahnees.
Can they explain this to the Paiute people?
Can they?
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Yosemite Native People – A famous Yosemite Indian Icon

One of the most famous photos of Native people in Yosemite is this photograph taken by J. T. Boysen in 1901.

The Icon of early Yosemite Native American Indian life.

Suzie and Sadie McGowan in Yosemite - Yosemite Icon

The photo is of Suzie and her young daughter Sadie McGowan in Yosemite Valley, Ca. 1901, taken by J. T. Boysen.

The photo is a beautiful portairt of early Indian life in Yosemite. Mother and daughter as they walk along the green meadows as the waterfall cascades in the background.

A Paiute mother carrying her child in a Paiute cradleboard in one of the most wonderful places in the world, Yosemite Valley. Bringing back a time when Paiutes roamed the green meadows of Yosemite Valley during a simpler time.

Suzie and Sadie McGowan

Native Madonna and Child in the valley of Ahwahnee.

Sadie McGowan was also a favorite for many local photographers and tourists. Below is a photo of Sadie McGowan in her Paiute cradlebroad propped up against a tree. Later Suzie added decorative beadwork on the top of cradleboard and on the sides.

Sadie McGowan up against tree

Here someone created a colored painting of Sadie’s photo. Titled “Piute Indian Papoose”.

Sadie McGowan in color

Suzie McGowan, mother of Sadie, had another name. Her real married name was Suzie Bill. Her maiden name was Suzie Williams. She was the daughter of Rose Williams. Suzie’s husband was Poker Bill, son of Yosemite-Bridgeport-Hetch Hetchy-Mono Lake area Paiute Captain Jim and Patsy Jim.

Captain Jim was also called “Toha’eesha” translated in Paiute to English as “White Wolf”, but to his family he was just “na’ah” or father. He was called “White Wolf” because his hair was pre-mature gray by a certain age.

Captain Jim - Yosemite-Bridgeport-Mono Lake area Paiute

Captain Jim, father of many of the Paiute Indians around Bridgeport, Yosemite, Mono Lake. His daughters and grandchildren were famous basket makers in the whole area. He was also the father of Suzie’s husband, Poker Bill

The Bill family acquired the name McGowan after working for a white man with that name. Like many Indians they changed their last names to white persons they worked for.

Like many Paiutes they were nomadic and traveled around their ancestral areas hunting and gathering. Here is Poker Bill and Suzie Bill (McGowan) in Yosemite with their daughters.

Poker Bill and Family

Poker Bill and family in Yosemite. Left to Right; Yosemite icon Suzie Bill (McGowan), without her headscarf holding Sadie McGowan still in her signature plaided blanket, daughter Carrie Bill (McGowan) who later became the famous Indian basket maker Carrie Bethel, daughter Minnie Bill (McGowan) who later became the famous Indian basket maker Minnie Turner – Minnie Mike, then Suzie’s husband and father of the children, Poker Bill, son of Captain Jim.

So the photo is Suzie, holding Sadie, Carrie, Minnie, and Poker Bill.

Sadly not to long after this photo Suzie McGowan, the famous Yosemite icon, died giving childbirth.

This is an excerpt from C. Hart Merriam’s August 5, 1903 notes about Suzie’s Burial;

“I am told that a Paiute woman (wife of the Paiute called Poker Bill) died in childbirth a short time ago and was buried here. A fine basket bowl was put over her head when she was buried”.

So tragically this Yosemite Indian icon died only a couple of years after some of the most famous photographs of her in Yosemite Valley were taken. She left behind her family and her husband remarried Paiute Suzie Thompson. Suzie Thompson became their step mother and raised the girls who would later grow up to become some of Yosemite – Mono Lake Paiutes most famous basket makers.

Suzie’s daughters Carrie Bethal and Minnie Mike became famous in their own right in the California Indian basketry world. They created some of the large baskets sought after by auction houses and located in cultural Musuems.

This one Paiute person from the early Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute area caught forever on film lives in our hearts and minds and in time. She will always be remembered in photographs that captured her and her family in Yosemite Valley. Snap shots in time that caught a young Paiute mother who lived a life too short, but lives on in our memory because a photographer was intrigued by her and her child.

The Paiute people of Yosemite and Suzie McGowan, a Yosemite icon, never to be forgotten.

Suzie and Sadie McGowan - Paiutes in Yosemite

Suzie and Sadie McGowan, photographic icons of Yosemite. 1901 by J. T. Boysen.

A life too short, but always to be remembered.

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Eadweard Muybridge

Famous British photographer Eadweard Muybridge

Famous British photographer Eadweard Muybridge was an innovator and pioneer in the early motion picture and film process. He was ahead of his time in trying to capture movement and bring photography to life.

As a Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute Native American Indian person I can appreciate his pioneer spirit as he captured the early life of my people camping in Yosemite Valley along the Merced River.

For eons the Paiutes had camped along the Sierra Nevada and every now an then a photographer would capture Paiutes camping in the high Sierra.

Like this photo below entitled “Piute Indian Camp”;

Paiutes camped in the Sierras

What Eadweard Muybridge, the famous English photographer, did that was innovating and different was he decided  to capture a Native American scene like a movie director.

He started off far away from his subject and moved closer in giving the impression of someone seeing the Paiute village and then moving closer until they are inside the camp. Like a person walking into the camp and moving around.

Muybridge moved around the camp photographing early Native American Paiute life in Yosemite. A feat that no one had done before. This was Eadweard Muybridge’s vision of an early movie scene that he probably tried to capture and convey in this series.

We Paiutes believe that his genius would have gone unnoticed in this series if not for one Paiute who had seen several of Muybridge’s photos. People had thought that Muybridge had taken individual photos at different times, but they were actually photos taken in a series. Yosemite National Park Service believes that they were Miwoks, but that is not true once the Paiute started to see that the photos were numbered.

Once he noticed the numbers on the photos the Paiute put them together in numerical sequential order and the genius of man, Eadweard Muybridge, was revealed.

Eadweard Muybridge, the famous British photographer, and an early father of motion photography, had experimented in taking photos like a movie director would. The photos in this series appear like a photographic movie board. You can see the mind of this genius as he perceived a scene in motion, like a walk into an early Indian camp.

Muybridge also put the question of what tribe the people in the photos were to rest. Yosemite National Park Service hired a person years ago who was married to a Miwok, who tried to pass off serveral of Muybridge’s photos as Miwok people, but we Paiutes suspected they were really Paiutes. Not only was this one of Muybridge’s early experimenation in moving pictures, but he also documented early life of the Paiute people in Yosemite Valley. He saved the memory of our people that a certain Yosemite employee was trying to erase.

For this we Paiutes want to thank the genius of Eadweard Muybridge and his early attempts at motion pictures.

Here are the photos after they were put together in numeric sequential order. They appear like one of his early attempts of motion pictures. We also want to thank the Paiute who put the photos together and his blog.

Below are some of the earliest photos of Paiutes camping in Yosemite around 1870, by Eaweard Muybridge, the famous photographer.

Here are the photos in sequence, so you can see the progression. Remember Eadweard Muybridge also did those great photos in motion of nude people running and animals in motion.

photo no. 1571; Here Muybridge can see the Indian encampment along the Merced in the distance as he approaches. I can’t tell if he is on a boat, on the other side of the river or on an embankment.

1571 Yosemite Paiute encampment along Merced River
photo no. 1572; Here Muybridge is getting closer to the Indian encampment along the banks of the Merced. You can see the granite rocks in the back.

1572 Yosemite Indian encampment closer
photo no. 1573; Muybridge is now on the beach and shoting the village. You can see a camp fire in the close distance.

1573 Yosemite Indian camp along the beach
photo no. 1574; Titled “Piute Chief’s Lodge”. Here Muybridge goes to the “Piute Chief’s Lodge” and photographs the interior of the Paiute chief’s lodge. He probably went up to the headman first to ask if he could take photos or try to converse with him. That last sentence is just a guess, but it is probable since that is the first photo up close.

1574 - Piute (Paiute) Chief's Lodge
photo no. 1575; Muybridge takes photo of a meeting of ceremonial significance. Someone is talking. In Paiute we had people we called “Talkers” who told of the traditions and history of ceremonies since we had no written language.

1575 - Yosemite Paiute ceremony
photo no. 1576; Muybridge walks over and shots a small group or family sitting in their own corner of the camp. In the back you can see another small family grouping. They have their Wonos in front and other baskets. A Wono is Paiute for Burden basket.

1576 small Yosemite Indian group

photo no. 1577; Muybridge takes a photo of men sitting on a log. They are wearing hats and other western style clothing. It was titled “Piute Bucks on a log”.

1577 - Yosemite Indian men sitting on log

photo no. 1578; I don’t have this one.

photo no. 1579; Muybridge takes photos of young teen males swimming in the Merced. Trying to keep cool in the summer. The title indicates that it is summer time and is called “A Summer Day’s Sport”. Paiute kids are trying to keep cool as the older people meet.

1579
photo no. 1580; Muybridge takes photo of an “Octenigarian” and a young boy. The face of the woman is blurred. They have a simple camp.

1580 - An eldery Yosemite woman with boy.

photo no. 1581; Muybridge then photographs a “Medicine Man Sleeping” below. His house was created  with boards leaning against a tree to make a shelter. His Wono (burden basket) lays next to him.

Medicine Man Sleeping

photo no. 1582; Muybridge then goes to photograph women leaching acorns and making bread. One is stirring her basket.

1582 - Paiute women cooking

photo no. 1853; I don’t have this one.

photo no. 1854; Five marriage age girls. One on the farthest left wears an early style Paiute beaded collar. The others have headbands.

1584 - Five Marriage age girls. One wears Paiute collar.

photo no. 1855; Muybridge than takes his camera to the outer edge of the camp where there is a Paiute sweatlodge with someone in it. Paiutes would sweat than jump into the river to cleanse themselves.

1585 - Paiute sweatlodge in Yosemite.

photo no. 1856; At the same camp is the famous German born painter Albert Bierstadt who is working on one of his paintings or drawings. Paiute children are to his right watching him, like kids do. Meanwhile the ceremony continues in the background. The group in the back looks like they are performing a Paiute round dance off to the side as the marriage age girls sit in the foreground.

Albert Bierstadt at the Yosemite Paiute camp.

photo no. 1857; Muybridge photographs Albert Bierstadt painting a an Indian man in front of the Paiute chief’s lodge as other Indian men watch Bierstadt paint from behind. The man in front of the chief’s lodge looks like Captain John, the leader of the Yosemite – Mono Lake Paiutes. The man who one of my elders said threw the rock that killed Chief Tenaya.

1857 - Albert Bierstadt painting Yosemite Indian man

Thank you for going with me on journery to early Yosemite Paiute Indian life.

Some of the earliest photographs of Yosemite Native Americans.

*These photos were numerically sequenced to show Eadweard Muybridge’s journeys into Yosemite Valley.

This is in dedication to the genius of the early pioneer of motion pictures, Eadweard Muybridge, the famous British photographer and innovator.

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