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Archive for the ‘photography pioneer’ Category

Paiute Indian occupation in Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley – Pinenut trees prove it

Artist rendering of Tabuce or Maggie “Taboose” Howard, Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute in Yosemite Valley with a wono basket and winnowing tray. These baskets were often used to pick pine nuts and winnow them. The drawing was done by Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute Roger Salas. The picture on the right is of a Pinon tree taken in Hetch Hetchy Valley in 1937. The tree is very large and hundreds of years old.

There has been talk about the original Native Americans of Hetch Hetchy Valley. Some claim Paiutes were never in the valley, but the discovery of Pinon or Pinenut trees shows that Paiutes were in Hetch Hetchy Valley hundreds of years before whites entered the area.

According to Jan. 1937 Yosemite Nature Notes Pinon trees were found right around Hetch Hetchy Valley, where we knew our Paiute families camped and stayed.

Here is an interesting article;

http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/yourict/52313777.html

Early hikers, park officials and Park geologists find Pinon trees in the area of Hetch Hetchy Valley in northern Yosemite and it was documented in early reports. Part of the this story was published in the Yosemite Nature Notes in January 1937. The story was about how a Sierra Club party discovered a Single-leaf or Pinon Pine in Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley. Then as more people traveled into the location they discovered more Pinon trees. This tree is found mainly on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and the nut of the tree, or pinenut, is a food staple of the Paiute Native people.

In the article published by Yosemite Nature Notes it discusses finding Pinon trees on the California western slope of the Sierra Nevada around Hetch Hetchy Valley.

http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/yosemite_nature_notes/16/16-1.pdf

Here is excerpts from the story:

“In 1909, Mr. H. W. Gleason, with the Sierra Club party, discovered the first-known occurrence of the Single-leaf or Pinon Pine (Pinus monophylia, Torrey or Fremont) in Yosemite National Park. Jepson in his “Trees of California” issued December 15, 1909, says, “On the west slope of the Sierra Nevada it occurs in a few circumscribed localities, in Piute Canyon, near Pate Valley (Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River), Kings River, along the west wall of the Kern Canyon, and southward into the lower Kern country.” Harvey M. Hall recorded in “A Yosemite Flora,” 1932, that the specimen found by Mr. Gleason was at about 5500 feet altitude in the Piute Creek Gorge. This single tree has been noted several times since by park officers. It is supposed to have been accidentally planted by Paiute Indians enroute from Mono Lake country to Pate Valley, a favorite summer camp.


During the late summer of 1935, Junior Forester Elliott Sawyer found a second lone specimen near the Rancheria Trail on the lower western slope of Rancheria Mountain. This find was recorded by Park Forester Emil Ernst in Yosemite Nature Notes for February, 1936. This tree is also on a possible route of the Paiutes entering Hetch Hetchy Valley. Now a third locality is established in the Park.
On September 14, 1936, while on a field trip with Mr. F. E. Matthes, Senior Geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, from base camp in Tiltill Valley, I discovered a small Single-leaf Pine tree at 5800 feet altitude, 150 yards south of Tiltill Valley Trail at the point where the up-trail from Hetch Hetchy reaches top of the ridge and makes a slight dip. We were once aware of the presence of a number of trees of this species so made a survey, finding there were between 100 and 200, varying in altitude from 5800 to 6100 feet, spread over an area of some two acres.”

An orchard of Pinon trees where found at that location around Hetch Hetchy. They were old and young and of different heights, some being very large. The trees were found on a series of broad, granite shelves which had a marvelous view-point over looking the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. One of the biggest Pinon trees found in 1936 had a trunk diameter of 28 inches.

The article goes on:

“Where these trees planted by the Indians? Mr. Matthes and I noted a ducked trail out across these natural shelves to “Pinon Point” (which they named after the trees) and on up the ridge. We followed these markers EASTERLY around a high dome, and were led into the upper end of Tiltill Valley. I consulted Mr. Gabriel Sovulewski for many years Supervisor of Road and Trail construction in Yosemite, and he said he had tentatively laid out this route following an old Indian trail, but had later abandoned it for the more direct, present Tiltill Valley Trail location.

Tabuce (Maggie “Taboose” Howard), an old Paiute resident of Yosemite, told me that as a little girl she had gone several times from Mono Lake to camp for the summer with her family in Hetch Hetchy. She said they first went to Bridgeport, and her description of the route seemed to indicate they entered Tiltill Valley, where there are many mortar holes in granite, indicating villages, and then on to Hetch Hetchy, evidently by this old trail. She said children ate pine nuts as they walked along and “maybe lots of times drop’em.” So perhaps a Paiute child several HUNDREDS YEARS AGO started this “orchard” of Single-leaf Pines. It would take TWO or THREE HUNDRED YEARS for one of these slow-growing pines to reach a diameter of 28 inches.” (See Photo 1 in Gallery of Taboose and a 1937 photo of a Pinon tree around Hetch Hetchy)

So if you are ever hiking around Hetch Hetchy and run into the Single-Leaf Pinon trees remember they were once left there hundreds of years ago by Paiutes who camped in Hetch Hetchy Valley.

The Park now avoids mentioning Paiute presence in Hetch Hetchy, or limiting their presence in the Valley. Yet not once did the early Yosemite Nature Notes mention Miwoks in Hetch Hetchy Valley, only Paiutes.

The Pinon tree only grews on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and is a staple of the Paiute diet. Even Taboose Howard talks about traveling into Hetch Hetchy NOT to trade, but to live. The pinon trees have been there for hundreds of years.


Old photo of Paiute girls cleaning and preparing pine nuts gathered from Pinon trees which are located mainly in the Great Basin.

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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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