Archive for the ‘Southern Sierra Miwuks’ Category

Referrences of antique books of the Native people of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

The New West: or, California in 1867-1868By Charles Loring Brace

Printed ca. 1869

page 116

New West page 116

page 117, Pah Utahs or Paiute Indians in Hetch Hetchy Valley

New West page 117

Text from The New West;

“It has been seldom visited, the Pah Utahs (Paiutes), and the Big Creek tribes, disputing and fighting over its possession.”

“It had been noticed for some time that the Indians possessed a place of hiding which was unknown to the whites.”


Californian Pictures in Prose and Verse By Benjamin Parke Avery

Printed ca. 1878

page 294

hetch hetchy indian page 294

page 295, Pah-Utahs or Paiute Native American Indians In Hetch Hetchy.

hetch hetchy indians page 295

Text from Californian Pictures in Prose and Verse;

“The Hetch-Hetchy Valley, or “the Little Yosemite,” for instance, was, up to a very recent date, disputed ground between the Pah-Utahs (Paiutes), from the eastern slope, and the Big Creek Indians, from the western slope, who had several fights, in which the Pah-Utahs (commonly called Piutes) were victorious.”

Main informant being Charles F. Hoffmann and the Screech brothers. Hoffamann had the largest mountain in Yosemite named after him.

C. F. Hoffmann and Nate Screech

 Left; Charles F. Hoffmann, early California State Surveyor, Right; Nate Screech, early Hetch Hetchy Valley pioneer.

website with information on Charles F. Hoffmann;


Part 7 of the early American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam was built.

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John Bingaman was a well known Yosemite National Park ranger who worked almost all his adult life in the Valley. He knew most of Indian people of Yosemite and the surrounding area. Ranger John Bingaman wrote several books about the lives of Yosemite Indians who worked in the park.

Ranger John Bingaman on horse ca. 1921

Yosemite National Park Ranger John Bingaman on horseback, ca. 1921

John W. Bingaman wrote in his book

Guardians of the Yosemite (1961), Chapter V, about his ranger patrols;

“We followed an old dim trail I knew from Huckleberry Lake to Kibbie Lake. It wasn’t a regular trail. An old cattleman who ran cattle in this country many years had showed me the trail which was a much shorter We camped at Kibbie Lake that night. The lake is a fisherman’s paradise. The next day we returned to Hetch Hetchy and all agreed it was a fine trip.  Hetch Hetchy Pate Numic pictographs

Pate Valley Indian Pictographs in the Tuolumne Canyon,
Yosemite National Park. Numic Great Basin [Paiute] style Pictographs – Petroglyphs are located around the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The same type are located all throughout Paiute and Mono Great Basin areas.

On a Patrol with Ranger Walquist to Pate Valley, we spent some time investigating the Indian Pictographs on the Canyon wall, one-fourth mile north of the Trail Camp. Ranger Walquist and I searched over the Canyon Cliff looking for other places where the markings and pictures have been reported for many years. We found one location near the House Pits averaging twelve feet in diameter. It appeared that the Indians occupied these places the year around. The age of the Pictographs could be anywhere from two hundred to one thousand years or even more. Pictographs are found in some fifty places throughout California. Nothing can be told of the significance of the characters contained in the markings. In no case do the present Indians know their origin or meaning. The Indians of this region do not make representations of natural objects as did the Indians of the Plains. The characters may be connected with some important enumeration of calendar keeping. These Pictographs were first discovered and reported by Mr. McKibben and E. W. Hamden, which they discovered while on an outing of the Sierra Club in 1907.”

 We Paiutes would enter Hetch Hetchy Valley from the eastern side which leads to Piute Mountain and along Piute Creek [Paiute]. These natural landmarks with the “Piute” titles are located inside Yosemite National Parks northern area next to Hetch Hetchy. These are the places my people used to camp as we collected acorns and other things.

What we Paiutes find interesting and some what amusing is that Archealogists and Anthropologists cannot figure out how these pictrographs and petroglyphs got there. They are located around the high western Sierra Nevada.

Here one well known archealogists states;

High Sierra western pictographs

 “Although found within the ethnographic territory of the Central Sierra Miwok, these petroglyphs stylistically resemble those of the western Great Basin. It is believed that the art at Cal-5 was left by pre-Miwok people of the Great Basin cultural affiliation.”

That is because they were done by and left by Great Basin Paiute people. The Paiutes were there up till recent times until they were pushed out or flooded out of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Here is a well known Curtis photo of a Walker River Paiute creating pictographs – petroglyphs;

Walker River Paiute making pictograph - petroglyph

Here is a close up of a fimiliar looking section of the pictograph – petroglyph photographed by the archealogists above;

Upclose section of pictograph - petroglyph

Notice the similiarity of both pictograph – petroglyph designs.

Pictograph – Petroglyph, the Numic Great Basin Indian tradition found around Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Part 6 of the early American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam was bulit.

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John Muir

John Muir, the father of the modern day environmental movement.

John Muir writes about his first visit into Hetch Hetchy that he took in 1872. He mentions Joe Screech one of the first men to enter the valley;

The Hetch Hetchy Valley

by John Muir

Boston Weekly Transcript, March 25, 1873

“Mr. Screech first visited this valley in the year 1850, one year before Yosemite was entered by Captain Boling and his party. At present there are a couple of shepherds’ cabins and a group of Indian huts in the valley, which I believe is all that will come under the head of improvements.”

I had heard that the shepherd in Hetch Hetchy was a man named Smith. Even though the shepherd might not have been Basque. Basques and Paiutes had interwoven lives. Sheep herding in the Great Basin was what the Basques in the area were known for. Paiutes along with Spanish and French Basque sheepherders lived together in many areas along the Sierra Nevada. You can still see many Basque sheep herders in Mono County along Lundy Lake, Mono Village and other areas they both shared. Many Paiutes worked for the Basques as sheepherders from the foothills of eastern Sierra Nevada into the western side, even into Yosemite. Later on Yosemite Rangers told many sheep herders they could not use Yosemite National Park as a sheeping range anymore. John Muir notes the range of the early shepherds and Paiutes in Hetch Hetchy as they shared the valley in the earliest times in this writing with his conversation with Joe Screech.

Basque Shepherd

Some of our modern day Mono Paiute families have Basque last names. They are the descendents of these Basque sheepherders and Mono Paiute unions.

Here is another reference by John Muir concerning Paiutes and shepherds;

“The other pass of the five we have been considering is somewhat lower, and crosses the axis of the range a few miles to the north of the Mono Pass, at the head of the southernmost tributary of Walker’s River. It is used chiefly by roaming bands of the Pah Ute [Paiute] Indians and “sheepmen.” [Basque Shepards] “

The area John Muir is describing is in Northern Yosemite around the eastern entrance that we Paiutes took into Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Basque Carving

French and Spanish Basques carved messages into trees along the Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada. This technique is called Arborglyph.
You can find many trees along the eastern Sierra Nevadas with many different markings. They are similiar to Paiute Great Basin pictogprahs found along the rock walls in Hetch Hetchy Valley and throughout the area.

Part 5 of the early American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam.

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Josiah D. Whitney

Josiah D. Whitney was appointed state geologist of California in 1860. Whitney, along with William H. Brewer, Clarence King, Lorenzo Yates, and others, made an extensive survey of California, including the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite region. Excerpts on the Indians of Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite;

THE YOSEMITE BOOK by Josiah D. Whitney (1869)“This led to another expedition into the Valley by the Mariposa battalion, who killed some and drove out the rest of the Indians; these took refuge with the Monos, on the eastern side of the Sierra, but got into difficulty there, and, escaping with a lot of stolen horses, were followed back to the Yosemite by the Monos, where a battle was fought resulting in the almost entire extermination of the Yosemite tribe. Since that time the Valley has been annually visited by the Monos at the time of the ripening of the acorns, for the purpose of laying in a stock of this staple article of food; but the number of Indians actually and permanently resident in and about the Yosemite or the Mariposa Grove is very small. Like the rest of the so-called “diggers” in California,…”


“The Hetch-Hetchy may be reached easily from Big Oak Flat, by taking the regular Yosemite trail, by Sprague’s ranch and Big Flume, as far as Mr. Hardin’s fence, between the South and Middle Forks of the Tuolumne river. Here, at a distance of about eighteen miles from Big Oak Flat, the trail turns off to the left, going to Wade’s meadows, or Big Meadows as they are also called, the distance being about seven miles. From Wade’s ranch the trail crosses the middle fork of the Tuolumne, and goes to the “Hog ranch,” a distance of five miles, then up the divide between the middle fork and the main river, to another little ranch, called “the Cañon.” From here, it winds down among the rocks, for six miles, to the Hetch-Hetchy, or the Tuolumne Cañon. This trail was made by Mr. Joseph Screech, and is well blazed and has been used for driving sheep and cattle into the Valley. The whole distance from Big Oak Flat is called thirty-eight miles. Mr. Screech first visited this place in 1850, at which time the Indians had possession. The Pah Utes still visit it every year for the purpose of getting the acorns, having driven out the western slope Indians, just as they did from the Yosemite.”


Whitney even calls the Paiutes “Diggers”, which was done quite often. Like most whites during that time Whitney could not tell the difference. They did not know that Chief Tenaya’s band was primiarly made up of Mono Paiutes. That is why the Paiutes took Tenaya in. They would have never taken in a group of Miwoks because Mono Paiutes and Miwoks were enemies during that time. It was Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, one of the only men to author a book that met Chief Tenaya and his band. Bunnell wrote “The Discovery of the Yosemites, 1851…” In his book he wrote;

“The Pai-Ute [Paiute] and Mono Colony originally established by Ten-ie-ya, was the result of a desire to improve their physical condition. They were attached to this valley [Yosemite] as a home”.and;

“Ten-ie-ya was recognized, by the Mono tribe, as one of their number, as he was born and lived among them until his ambition made him a leader and founder of the Pai-Ute [Paiute] colony in Ah-wah-ne. “and;

 “Tenaya was the founder of the Pai-Ute [Paiute] Colony of Ahwahni”Bunnell also wrote that Tenaya spoke Paiute and not Miwok.Chief Tenaya’s band was made up mostly of Mono Paiutes and Monos. You can download the book on this website and by following the instructions on this website the truth will appear;


This explains the last two paragraphs in Whitney’s writings. The Ahwahneechees were absorbed into the Mono Lake Paiutes when Tenaya’s father took a handful of Ahwahneechee survivors to Mono Lake. That is were Tenaya was born from a Mono Lake Paiute woman. No Miwok man during that time could’ve entered Mono Lake and lived amongst war like Paiute in peace. Especially during a time when Paiutes and Miwoks were fighting…like over Hetch Hetchy.

Than after Tenaya and his band were wiped out, the remaining members of his band were taken back to Mono Lake and than absorbed again. So not only were they absorbed once by disease, they were re-absorbed again into the Mono Paiutes after Tenaya’s death.

That is why they only found Mono Lake Paiutes living in both Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy during the early days of Yosemite National Park. Even the few who espaced the Yosemite massacre were Paiutes. So notice that during his time in both Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite, Whitney writes that he only knew of Paiutes in the area.

Miwok workers were brought up to Sonora, Tuolumne County, from Knight’s Ferry and other towns along the San Joaquin Valleys Stanislaus River. Charles Webber made an agreement with Jose Jesus to have some of his people move up to Sonora to work in the Tuolumne area mines in exchange for provisions. Webber already had a good working relationship with Miwoks when he was employed as Sutter’s overseer. Webber knew the Miwok chiefs like Moximo and Jose Jesus. James Savage took it a step further and married many daughters of the valley and foothill tribes.

What most people don’t know is that the tribe above Big Oak Flat was Paiute from the earliest time of first contact. Most assume that only ONE tribe was along the Tuolumne. Dr. Bunnell writes;

Page 223Major Savage sent Cow-chitty, a brother of Pon-watch-ee, the chief of the
Noot-choo band, whose village we surprised before we discovered the
valley [ed. note – outside of Yosemite along the southern fork of the Merced River], as chief of scouts.
He was accompanied by several young warriors,
selected because they were all familiar with the Sierra Nevada trails and
the territory of the Pai-utes [Paiutes], where it was thought probable the
expedition would penetrate.Captain Boling had in his report to Major Savage, complained of the
incapacity of Sandino as guide, and expressed the opinion that he stood in
awe of Ten-ie-ya. By letter, the Major replied, and particularly advised
Captain Boling that implicit confidence could be placed in Cow-chitty and
his scouts, as the sub-chief was an old enemy of Ten-ie-ya
, and was
esteemed for his sagacity and wood-craft, which was superior to that of
any Indian in his tribe. Captain Bo ling had improved in health and
strength, and concluded to venture on his contemplated expedition over the
mountains. He at once ordered preparations to be made. A camp-guard was
detailed, and a special supply train fitted out. All was ready for a start
in the morning. During the evening Captain Boling consulted our new guide
as to what trail would be best to follow to the
Mono [Paiute] pass and over the
mountains. Cow-chitty had already learned from our Po-ho-no [ed. note- supposed Miwoks] scouts and
those of his own tribe, the extent of our explorations, and had had a long
talk with Sandino as well as with Ten-ie-ya. The mission Indian and the
old chief tried to make the new guide believe that the Yosemites had gone
over the mountains to the Monos [Paiutes]. Indian-like, he had remained very grave
and taciturn, while the preparations were going on for the expedition.
Now, however, that he was consulted by Captain Boling, he w as willing
enough to give his advice, and in a very emphatic manner declared his
belief to the Captain that Ten-ie-ya’s people were not far off; that they
were either
hiding in some ofPage 224the rocky canyons in the vicinity of the valley, or in those of the
page 231 They had been anxious to embroil us in trouble by drawing us into the
canyons of the Tuolumne [ed. Hetch Hetchy], where were some Pai-utes [Paiutes] wintering in a valley
like Ah-wah-ne [Ahwahnee].
So the Myth that the Tuolumne River was Miwuk is incorrect also…see above.  Upper Tuolumne River was Paiute and NOT Miwok.  The last paragraph talks about the Paiutes wintering in a Tuolumne Valley like Ahwahnee. That is no doubt Hetch Hetchy Valley which was a twin of Yosemite Valley.Hetch Hetchy Valley BierstadtAlbert Bierstadt’s “Hetch Hetchy Canyon”. The hiding place for the Paiute Indians along the Tuolumne Canyon during the search by Mariposa Battalion with Tenaya as captive.also in Bunnell’s book

Page 227“They are watching for you from the ridges nearer the
valley. We will not have to go far to find their camps. This trail will
lead us to the head of the Py-we-ack, where the Pai-ute [Paiute] or Mono trail
crosses into the upper valley of the Tuolumne; and if we don’t find them
at the lake, we will soon know if they have crossed the mountains.”
page 226A cord had again been placed around his
waist to secure his allegiance, and as we were about to move ahead once
more, he very gravely said that if we followed the signs, they would take
us over to the Tuolumne.
The Indians in the high sierras during Tenaya’s time were Tuolumnes, but Tuolumne Paiutes. They were aligned with Tenaya’s band. They could not have been the Miwoks, because the Miwoks were already working for James Savage and Charles Webber before Savage went into Yosemite to capture Tenaya. In fact the Mariposa Battalion had Miwok scouts when they entered Yosemite as you can see above.Lafayette H. Bunnell

*Remember Lafayette H. Bunnell was one of the only men to meet Tenaya and his band.

Part 4 of the American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam.

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Lady Constance Gordon-Cumming

Lady Constance Frederica Gordon-Cumming wrote about her travels. She wrote this about her trip to Yosemite and about the indigenous Native Americans in Hetch Hetchy valley in her book “Granite Crags of California” dated 1888;

THE TUOLUMNE CANYON. pg 269“farther on the same mighty ridge, a series of majestic pinnacles of glittering white granite. They are known as the Minarets. All these peaks and minarets are considered inaccessible, which, I should think, was the sole reason which could possibly inspire any one with a wish to climb them.

The travellers did not seek a nearer acquaintance with the Lyell and Merced groups, though somewhat tempted by hearing that that region is accounted one of the wildest and grandest in the Sierras; but their chief anxiety was to visit a beautiful valley of the same character as this, called the Hetch-Hetchy Valley. It has only recently been discovered, having been one of the sanctuaries of the Pah-ute [Paiute] Indians, who reckon on always finding there an abundant acorn-harvest.

This valley is quite easy of access from the lower end, a trail having been made the whole way from Big Oak Flat. From the upper end, it is a difficult but very beautiful expedition; and this was the route naturally preferred by these young men, to whom a little extra climbing was no objection.

So from Mount Dana they returned to their former camping-ground at Soda Springs, and thence started on a twenty-miles march down the Tuolumne canyon, a deep and narrow gorge, through which the river rushes between precipitous granite cliffs, over a bed of glacier-polished rocks, making a rapid descent without any great falls, but forming, a succession of most beautiful shelving rapids and foaming cascades. There are two perpendicular falls,…”

Lady Gordon-Cumming also did several paintings and drawings of Yosemite, Including this upclose section of her “Indians at Mirror Lake” showing Paiutes in Yosemite;

Upclose cropped section of Indians at Mirror Lake.

Lady Gordon-Cumming’s drawing is of a camp of Paiutes. Which can be easily identified by the Paiute style Indian cradleboards and Paiute basket hat worn the woman seated front-left. Paiutes were the only tribe in the area to wear this style of hat. Also Paiutes were know to camp at Mirror Lake.

Grizzly bear pelts can be seen hunging in the trees in Cummings painting above.

John Muir wrote in his “Yosemite in the Winter (1872)”;

“…As soon as bipeds left Yosemite, bears came in; not to grunt flattery to the falls, but to dine upon ridden-to-death horses. One burly old chief was killed at Nevada Falls by a party of Mono Indians. He was a brown or cinnamon bear, the prevailing species of the region.”

Guns brought the rapid end to California Grizzly Bears and quickly endangered the smaller bears around Yosemite. Where once the Mono Indians hunted bears with obisidian brought in from the Mono Lake area, the guns gave the Indians more of an advantage.

The woman in the front right is pounding acorns which we Paiutes called that action “Pota”.

 Part 3 of the history of the American Indian indigenous to Hetch Hetchy Valley.

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Francois E. Matthes

Famous Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy Geologist: Francois E. Matthes.

From: The Sierra Nevada: The Range of Light edited by Roderick Peattie, a collection of writers.

Page 304

“I accompanied Francois E. Matthes on a geological expedition to Yosemite back country one year. We were camped on Moraine Ridge east of Hetch Hetchy, and he sent me scouting for granite contacts up a long ridge that ended at Haystack Peak. I t was early September, and I was soon fining more than granites. Townsend solitaires were coming back into sketches of song: at eight thousand feet I found a lone mortar hole on a level surface of rock near a spring and knew this was a one-time migration route of Piute [Paiute] Indians. Near nine thousand feet I came into a pure forest of hemlock. I was walking quietly through its gravelly glades when suddenly I was startled by one of natures’s explosions. A dozen or so Sierra grouse took off just above my head with a startling whir of wings. To calm myself I stood watching them as they disappeared in several directions. Then I felt tiny hemlock seeds raining down on me from the disturbed cones. Several times grouse did this to me, and each time I was just as startled.

By winter they have adjusted to a remarkable change in diet. No matter to them that snow covers their chosen parts of the range to considerable depths, blanketing out their normal sources of food. They can live very well on tender buds and fir needles. So all winter they live in trees, roosting and feeding in dense conifers, even up toward timberline.”

Albert Bierstadt's Hetch Hetchy painting

Albert Bierstadt’s painting of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Part 2 of the American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

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Hetch Hetchy Valley floor 1911

The raging debate continues on the future of Hetch Hetchy Valley. It has been a feature story in most prestiges newspapers and TV media. The story has been on most front pages and opinion pieces.


Hetch Hetchy

I believe that is good thing. That a debate on Hetch Hetchy is very good and that a person should see all sides on this issue. Restoration or keeping the dam is an important question that is in dispute and must be settled.

One of the main issues that we, as Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes have, is the Indian history of Hetch Hetchy. This is an important facet of the story of Hetch Hetchy and it should be remembered that before any dam was built there were Indian people who camped and lived in Hetch Hetchy Valley. Those people were the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes.

One of the first written accounts of European-Americans entering the high Sierras was of Joseph Walker and his party, who encountered Paiutes on their trek across the west around 1833.

Then in 1850, Joseph, Nate and William Screech entered Hetch Hetchy Valley and were the first European-Americans to see the beauty and wonder that was the Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Hetch Hetchy Valley Floor 1911

In the Valley they encountered Paiute Indian people camping in Hetch Hetchy.

1850 was a year before Major James D. Savage and the Mariposa Battalion entered Yosemite in 1851 to capture one of our leaders, Chief Tenaya (Ten-ie-ya).

My people would camp in Hetch Hetchy and roam the valley. They would travel throughout the area and camp at Piute Creek, Piute Mountain and Pate Valley (which J. S. Solomon wrote was misspelled and should have been Pait Valley). They would travel through all the Mono (Mono Paiute) trails to gather acorns, berries, seeds, roots and other foods.

John Muir wrote how he would see Mono Paiutes walking single file along the Mono Trails going back and forth through out the Yosemite-Hetch Hetchy area carrying burden baskets loaded with acorns they had picked. Muir wrote that sometimes my people would be painted in red clay which we Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes considered magic. We believed the red clay would protect us from evil. Some of the rocks around eastern Yosemite were painted with red clay by Paiutes.

John Muir amongst Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes

John Muir with Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes. Many of them entered Yosemite Valley. This photo was taken around 1901 when Paiutes had just returned from collecting acorns in Hetch Hetchy at Chief Joe’s camp. The Paiute Indian woman is preparing and leaching acorns from Hetch Hetchy. We Paiutes collected and gathered our own acorns and were not traded. During this time C. Hart Merriam had interviewed the Paiutes who had just returned from their gathering forays into Hetch Hetchy Valley. There he met Chief Joe, Captain Jim, Jack Lundy, Nellie Charlie,  who at that time was married to Joe.

C. F. Hoffman, the first official California state surveyor, interviewed the Screech brothers and other mountaineers and they said that Paiutes were the first people of Hetch Hetchy. The Paiutes had several battles with the Big Creek Indians from the lower foothills over Hetch Hetchy, but the Paiutes were victorious in retaining their ownership of Hetch Hetchy. Here is Hoffman’s written account of Hetch Hetchy and the Indians published Oct. 1867.


Hoffman later had one of the largest mountains of Yosemite, along the Paiute Tioga pass, named after him in honor of his work on surveying the Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy area.

After awhile more and more European-American gold seekers and water personnel kept having bad encounters with Paiutes in the upper Tuolumne River area. Paiutes did not appreciate trespassers entering what they considered their territory. They often attacked those intruders who in the earliest times wanted to control the waters of the upper Tuolumne.

Around June 28, 1861, one of the first dam tenders around the area above Hetch Hetchy, Jacob R. Giddes, was supposedly killed by Paiutes. Below is the account in the Gold Spring Dairy, the Journal of John Jolly, taken from the Tuolumne Historical Society.



On Feb. 11, 1858, John Jolly writes that whites in the area created vigilante groups to go after the Paiutes in the northern Yosemite area. Vigilante groups went to fight Paiutes who were in the Sierra Nevadas in the upper Tuolumne River, while the local lower foothill Indians worked in their mines.

Charles Augustus Stoddard wrote in “California As I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849-1900 “, Beyond the Rockies; a spring journey in California, Chapter XXII, Hetch-Hetchy Valley:

Page 139 to 140:

“Hetch-Hetchy Valley became known to white men in 1867. Long before, it was a hiding-place for Indians, and it is still visited from year to year by Pah Utes [Paiutes] for the purpose of gathering acorns from majestic trees, under some of which we found shelter from the sun.”“In the summer of 1873, the remarkable cañon of the Tuolumne River east and a little north of Hetch-Hetchy was explored to Soda Springs, a distance of about twenty-two miles.”The vigliantes had temporarily pushed the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes into Mono Lake, but it was only short lived. Our people kept re-entering the area secretly and continued to pick acorns and other plant foods. Below is an account of Paiutes entering Hetch Hetchy in 1903, by C. Hart Merriam, the noted California Indian anthropologist and ethnologist. This was taken from his personal notes.


It is a hard read, because the right and left part is cut off, but you can still read Hetch Hetchy.

Nellie Jim-Charlie, Besa-Yoona

Nellie Jim-Charlie. Her Paiute Indian name was Besa-Yoona. She and her family were mentioned in the above link as entering Hetch Hetchy Valley. They roamed the area gathering acorns and other foods. Her family was also some of the most prolific Native American basket makers in Yosemite, Mono Lake and through out eastern California.

My Great Aunt would recall how the old people would talk about how they would stay along Piute Creek, Piute Mountain and Pate Valley and talk about the old times. They would camp around Hetch Hetchy before it was flooded. They were surprised that the white man would flood such a place that was bountiful and so beautiful.

The old people lamented that Hetch Hetchy had the most abundant food plant species that they enjoyed.

We , the descendents of the original people who roamed Hetch Hetchy, wonder what our valley would look like today? We also want to be included in the story of Hetch Hetchy, our beautiful valley.

Oldest Basket found in Hetch Hetchy - Paiute

Oldest Native American basket found in Hetch Hetchy Valley and Central California – Paiute Indian burden basket.

cc: National Park Service

Part 1 of several parts concerning the American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley.

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