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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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This is taken from a great blog by a another Paiute who has been examining Yosemite Indian History.

  

C. Hart Merriam

C. Hart Merriam

In 1910 Bay area ethnologist C. Hart Merriam was looking for the Yosemite Miwoks written about by Overland Monthly journalist Stephen Powers.

Merriam, like other white ethnologists, never read Lafayette Bunnell’s personal account of the Mariposa Battalion. Bunnell, who was part of the Battalion that ‘discovered’ the Yosemite Valley wrote that the original Indians of Yosemite were really Paiutes and not Miwoks. He, like others, only read the popular magazine the Overland Monthly’s Stephen Power’s article.

In fact the Miwoks were the scouts and workers for the whites and followed them in AFTER the Paiutes had been cleared and they were absorbed into the Mono Paiute population.

Merriam went and instead of speaking to the original Native people of Yosemite, the Paiutes, he spoke to the few remaining “Miwoks” around their camps in the western foothills. He was in search of the ‘fabled’ Yosemite Miwoks written about by Stephen Powers, when they were really late comers.

Here is what he wrote were their “villages” in Yosemite Valley…NOTE THERE ARE OVER 50 VILLAGES, with large roundhouses at several locations.

I believe either Merriam was ‘fooled’ or Merriam had a flight of his own creativity.

ONE, THERE WAS NEVER ANY ROUNDHOUSES IN YOSEMITE WHEN THE MARIPOSA BATTALION ENTERED, and that is documented.

Plus —- So Many villages…Not enough Indians. (and the majority of those were Paiutes not Miwoks).

Below is his ‘work’.

PECULIAR CLASSIFICATION OF THE VILLAGES

The villages and camps were sharply divided into two categories—those north of Merced River and those south of it. This division has a far deeper and more ancient significance than that indicated by the mere position of the villages with respect to the river, for it goes back to the underlying totemic beliefs that form an important part of the religion of this primitive people.

If one of the survivors is questioned as to the location of the villages, he in replying constantly makes use of the terms inside and outside as denoting one or the other side of the valley; and if the inquiry is pressed a little farther it soon develops that there is a grizzly-bear side and a coyote side, a land side (Too-noó-kah), and a water side (Kik-koó-ah). This perplexing state of affairs leads to the interesting discovery that after all there are only two sides, but that each of them has four names: that the north side, inside, grizzly-bear side, and land side are one and the same—namely, the side north of Merced River; while the south side, outside, coyote side, and water side are only so many different names for the side south of Merced River.

The names most commonly used by the Indians themselves for the two sides are Oo-hoó-mă-tāt ko-tó-wahk (or Oo-hoó-mă-te ha-wā’-ah), the grizzly-bear side, and Ah-hā’-leet ko-tó-wahk (or Ah-hā’-le ha-wā’-ah), the coyote side—from Oo-hoó-ma-te, the bear, and Ah-hā’-le, the coyote, respectively.

It is not difficult to see how Oo-hoó-ma-te, the bear, an important personage among the early animal-people, might be chosen to represent the land animals; but why Ah-há-le, the coyote, should stand for the water-people is not so obvious. For the explanation one must look far back into the mythology of these Indians, in which it appears that before there were any real people in the world Ah-há-le, the coyote-man, one of the early divinities of the animal-people, came over the ocean from beyond the sea—for which reason he is ranked with the water-people.

Returning to our more immediate subject, the village and camp sites of Yosemite Valley, it is now easier to understand the grouping employed by the Indians. Indians are naturally methodical, and it is their custom to classify objects and places, and in speaking of them to begin at a fixed point and proceed in orderly sequence. Thus, in seeking the names of animals and plants and of geographic locations, I have several times provoked the undisguised disgust of my informant by not putting my questions in what he or she deemed the proper sequence.

In enumerating the village and camp sites of Yosemite Valley the Indians begin at the upper (or east) end of the north side.

Following this sequence, the names and locations of the villages and camps are as follows:

ON THE NORTH (OR GRIZZLY-BEAR) SIDE—OO-HOÓ-MA-TAT KO-TÓ-WAHK

1. Hoo-ké-hahtch’-ke.—Situated at the extreme upper end of the valley between Merced River and Tenaya Creek, and just below the mouth of Tenaya Cañon. A summer village inhabited up to about twenty years ago.

2. Hol’-low’, or Lah’-koó-hah.—Indian cave, immediately under Washington Column at the mouth of Tenaya Cañon; a low, broad, and deep recess under a huge rock. Said to have been occupied as a winter shelter, and also when attacked by the Mono Lake Piutes. The overhanging rock is black from the smoke of ages, and far back in the cave large quantities of acorn-shells have been found. The word Lah-koó-hah, often applied to Indian Cave, is a call meaning “come out.”

3. Wis’-kah-lah.—A large summer camp on a northward bend of Merced River, a little west of Royal Arches. Western part of site now occupied by a small settlement known as Kinneyville.

4. Yó-watch-ke (sometimes nicknamed Mah-chá-to, meaning “edge” or “border,” because of its position on the border of the valley).—Large village at mouth of Indian Cañon; still occupied. The slightly sloping gravel and sand “fan” on which this village is situated is the warmest place in Yosemite Valley, having a southwesterly exposure and receiving a maximum of midday and afternoon sunshine. Several species of shrubs belonging to the Upper Sonoran zone—the one next below the Transition zone, in which Yosemite Valley lies—thrive on this hot sandy plain among and outside of the scattered ponderosa pines and black oaks. These are Ceanothus divaricatus, Rhus trilobata, Lupinus ornatus, Eriodictyon glutinosum, Pentstemon[sic] breviflorus.

5. Ah-wah’-ne.—Village on Black Oak Flat, extending from site of Galen Clark’s grave easterly nearly to Yó-watch-ke. As in the case of most of the villages, the village name was applied also to a definite tract of land belonging to it. This area, in the case of Ah-wah’-ne, was a piece of level ground of considerable size, beginning on the west along a north and south line passing through Sentinel Hotel and reaching easterly nearly to the mouth of Indian Cañon. The cemetery was on this tract, as was also the barn formerly belonging to J. B. Cooke. This being the largest tract of open level ground in the valley, the name Ah-wah’-ne came to be applied by outside Indians to the whole valley.

6. Koom-i-ne, or Kom-i-ne.—The largest and most important village in the valley, situated on the north side of the delta of Yosemite Creek just below Yosemite Fall (Ah-wah’-ning chú-luk-ah-hu, slurred to Chó-luk), and extending southwesterly at the base of the talus-slope under the towering cliffs for about three-quarters of a mile, reaching almost or quite to Three Brothers (Haw’-hawk). Old Chief Tenaya had a large earth-covered ceremonial-house (hang-e) by a big oak tree in this village. The Government soldiers stationed in the valley took possession of the site and established their camp there in 1907, forcing the Indians out. (Occupied by Indians during all my earlier visits.)

7. Wah-hó-gah.—Small village about half a mile west-southwest of Koom-i-ne, on or near edge of meadow.

8. Soo-sem’-moo-lah.—Village at northwest end of old Folsom bridge (now the ford), less than half a mile south of Rocky Point.

9. Hah-ki-ah.—Large village only a short distance (less than one eighth mile) below Soo-sem’-moo-lah, and likewise south of Three Brothers (Haw’-hawk). A roundhouse, or hang-e, was located here, not far from old Folsom bridge. The three villages, Wah-hó-gah, Soo-Sem’-oo-lah, and Hah-ki-ah, were inhabited up to about twenty years ago.

10. Kotm’-pom-pá-sah, or Pom’-pom-pá-sah.—Small village only a little below Hah-ki-ah, and also south of Three Brothers, or under the talus slope of the cañon immediately west of Three Brothers.

11. Aw’-o-koi-e.—Small village below and slightly east of the tall pine growing in a notch on the broad south face of El Capitan. The native Indian name of the gigantic rock cliff which we call El Capitan is To-tó-kon oo-lah, from To-tó-kon, the Sandhill Crane, a chief of the First People.

12. He-lé-jah (the mountain lion).—Small village under El Capitan a little west of Aw’-o-koi-e.

13. Ha-eng’-ah.—Small village under El Capitan, and only a little west of He-lé-jah.

14. Yu-á-chah.—Still another village under El Capitan, and only a short distance west of Ha-eng’-ah.

15. Hep-hep’-oo-ma.—Village where present Big Oak Flat road forks to leave the main road, south of the steep cañon which forms the west wall of El Capitan, and near west end of the big El Capitan Meadows (To-tó-kon oó-lah’ i-e-hu). The five villages, Aw’-o-koi-e, He-lé-jah, Ha-eng’-ah, Yu-á-chah, and Hep-hep’-oo-ma, were summer villages occupied from April to late October or early November.

16. Ti-e-té-mah.—Village only a short distance below Hep-hep’-oo-ma, and close to El Capitan bridge.

17. Ho-kó-nah.—Small village a little below Ti-e-té-mah, and near site of old (shack) house.

18. Wé-tum-taw.—Village by a small meadow a short distance. below Ho-kó-nah, and east of Black Spring.

19. Poot-poo-toon, or Put-put-toon.—Village in rocky place on north side of present road at Black Spring, from which it takes its name.

20. Ah-wah’-mah.—Lowermost (westernmost) village in Yosemite Valley, a short distance below Black Spring and above Til-til’-ken-ny, where the mail-carrier’s cabin is located.

VILLAGES ON THE SOUTH OR COYOTE SIDE—AH-HÁ-LEET KO-TÓ-WAHK

21. Sap-pah’-sam-mah.—Lowermost (most westerly) village or camp on south side of the valley, about half a mile east of Pohono Meadows.

22. Lem-mé-hitch’-ke.—Small village or camp on east side of Pohono (or Bridal Veil) Creek, just below a very large rock.

23. Hop’-tó-ne.—Small village or camp at base of westernmost of the lofty cliffs known as Cathedral Rocks, and close to south end of El Capitan bridge across Merced River.

24. Wé-sum-meh’.—Small village or camp at base of Cathedral Spires near the river, with a small meadow below; not far above Hop’-tó-ne.

25. Kis’-se, or Kis’-se-uh.—Large village near the river, nearly opposite Hah-ki-ah. Kis’-se was the westernmost of the large villages on the south side. From it easterly they occurred at frequent intervals.

26. Chá-chá-kal-lah.—Large village just below old Folsom bridge (ford). Formerly a sweat-house (chap-poó) here.

27. Ham’-moo-ah.—Village on Ford road, nearly opposite Three Brothers (Wah-hah’-kah).

28. Loi-ah.—Large village in open pine forest below Sentinel Rock (on ground now occupied by Camp Ahwahnee) and reaching down toward river. Occupied during my earlier visits-to the valley.

29. Hoó-koo-mé-ko-tah.—Village a little above Galen Clark’s house; looked out easterly over big meadow. Occupied during my earlier visits. (Hoo-koo-me is the great horned owl.)

30. Haw-kaw-koó-e-tah (Ho-kok’-kwe-lah, Haw-kaw’-koi*).—Large and important village on Merced River, where Sentinel Hotel and cottages now stand. Home of the band called Yo-ham’-i-te (or Yo-hem’-i-te), for whom the valley was named. The old woman Callipena was a Yo-ham’-i-te.

[*Named from How-kaw’-met-te, or How-wah-met-te, a rocky place.]

31. Ho-low.—Village on or near Merced River where the schoolhouse used to stand.

32. Wah’-tahk’-itch-ke.—Village on edge of meadow on south bend of Merced River near forks of road west of Le Conte Memorial. The wild pea (wah-tah’-kah) grows here.

33. Too-yú-yú-yu.—Large village on south bend of Merced River due. north of Le Conte Memorial and close to the bridge between Le Conte Memorial (or Camp Curry) and Kinneyville.

34. Too-lah’-kah’-twh.—Village or camp on open ground now occupied by orchard on east side of meadow north of Camp Curry.

35. Um’-ma-taw.—Large village on present wagon-road between Camp Curry and Happy Isles; was some distance from the river; water was fetched from a spring.

36. Ap’-poo-meh.—Camp on Merced River below Vernal Fall.

37. Kah-win’-na-bah’.—Large summer camp in Little Yosemite, whose name it bears.

VILLAGES IN MERCED CAÑON BELOW YOSEMITE VALLEY

There were no villages in the narrow Merced Cañon between the lower end of Yosemite Valley and the Cascades, where there were a few houses called Yi-yan’. This name also covered the ground from Cascade Creek to the junction of the Coulterville road.

The next village on the north side was at the terminus of the new railroad at El Portal (a distance of eight or nine miles), where the villages began and continued down-stream. Most of these were permanent, but they were far larger in winter than in summer, receiving material additions from Yosemite when cold weather set in.

Sit’-ke-noó-al-lah.—Place and few houses on the south side of Merced River a little above (east of) El Portal; now Indian Wilson’s place.

Kep-pek’-oo-lah.—Place and small settlement on the south side of Merced River just above El Portal; now occupied by a white man. Named from the abundance of kep-pek’ the brake fern (Pteris aquilina), the rootstocks of which the Indians use for the black design in their baskets.

Kah-wah’-koo-lah.—Place and small settlement on the south side of Merced River half a mile below Sit’-ke-noó-al-lah and nearly opposite El Portal stable.

Sal-lah’-to.—Large village on flat now occupied by the railroad terminus at El Portal. The place at the mouth of Crane Creek at El Portal is called Sas’-oo-lah; formerly a few houses where the hotel stable now is.

Po-ko-nó.—Village on the north side of the Merced a quarter of a mile west of El Portal. The flat gravel and pebble bench extending along the north side of the Merced for an eighth of a mile just below El Portal was known by the same name.

Choó-pi-tah, or Choó-pi-do.—Large village on the north side of Merced Cañon one or one and a half miles below El Portal, at the place called Rancheria Flat (immediately west of the present Hite Mine and northeast of the bend of the river).

To-yo’ng-am’.—Small village on top of a small pointed hill on the north side of the Merced at the bend of the river just below Hite Mine (really surrounded by Choó-pi-tah, being situated in the middle of the flat; may have been only a roundhouse).

Soó-wut-oo-lah’.—Large and important village on large oak-forested flat on the north side of the Merced, now Switch Flat (railroad switch), just west of Hogback Ridge, which separates it from Choó-pi-tah. Used to be a roundhouse (hang-e) here.

Oi-kó-bah.—Very small old village at mouth of Moss Cañon, north side of the Merced; not room for many houses.

Kil’-mit-ten.—Big village on flat on the north side of the Merced just above the Government bridge.

Moó-lah-buk’-sa-bah’.—Village on the north side of the Merced just below and close to the Government bridge.

Haw’-too-too.—Village on the north side of the Merced. Old cabin there now, opposite the present Indian ranch where Big Nancy and others live.

Muh-chó-kah-nó.—Old village on the south side of the Merced, at present occupied by Big Nancy, Callipena, and Lucy Ann.

Wah’ng’-oo-hah.—Village on small flat on the north side of Merced Cañon, a little above the mill at Ferguson Mine.

Soo-noó-koo-loon’.—Village on the north side of Merced Cañon, at present Ferguson Station, six miles below El Portal.

LET’S LOOK AT THE PROOF OF ALL THESE OVER 50 VILLAGES:

Notice Merriam only mentions Calepena, Big Nancy, Indian Wilson and Lucy Ann…WHO WHERE THE OTHER SO-CALLED SOUTHERN SIERRA MIWUKS LIVING THERE??? Where were the others??? Since he mentioned them by name, where were the other Miwuks?

 Plus these women were married to Mono Paiutes.

So let’s look at what others wrote when they went looking for Stephen Power’s “Yosemite Miwoks”

Here is a great example. Taken from an old 1904 Yosemite Souvenir and Guide Book page 64, he is writing about his visitation in 1901;

“Of the orinigal Yosemite band of Indians that once owned this Valley, and numbered its braves by the hundreds, there are now remaining but about a dozen. These are the Digger tribe, and they remain here only during the warm moths. At other times they move down the river below the snow line. Many of the Indians now here belong to their enemies, the sturdy Paiutes, from across the Sierras. All of both tribes are fairly industrious, the bucks doing all sorts of work, while the sqauws spend their time making baskets. The elder of the former usually follow trout fishing. The present leader of the Yosemites is Captain Dick, whose “quarters” are near the foot of the Yosemite Falls.”

Even before 1904 there were not that many “Miwuks” in that area. In a 1880s census there were very few.

As you can see the guide book writer was looking for the “original” Yosemite Indians, as written by Stephen Powers and C. Hart Merriam, what he found was mainly Paiutes (the true original people of Yosemite). He even wrote that the “handful” of Southern Sierra Miwuks did not live in Yosemite year round, but in 1880 the census shows Paiutes in Yosemite.

 

old souvenir guide book of Yosemite 1904

NOW HERE IS THE BIG PROBLEM WITH C. HART MERRIAM’S WORK. IN 1904 IT WAS DOCUMENTED THAT THERE WERE ABOUT A DOZEN “DIGGERS” WHO WOULD ENTER YOSEMITE.

 

Meaning that this could not be possible. That would mean that about 12 people were living in over 50 villages. If one was to do the math, it would be impossible. Even Captain Dick in the 1904 Yosemite Guide, unbeknown to the writer was himself a PAIUTE.

Meanwhile at the same time C. Hart Merriam was looking for the ‘fabled’ Yosemite Miwoks, there were hundreds of Paiutes living and camping in Yosemite…one of their original homelands.

Plus the guide book writer didn’t know that the Yosemite band was absorbed back into the Mono Paiutes in 1853. Those “Diggers” he saw were NOT part of the original Indians, but part of Powers’ Indians that he mistakenly wrote were Yosemite Indians. The real Yosemite Indians WERE THE PAIUTES SITTING IN MASS IN YOSEMITE VALLEY EVEN IN 1901.

To quote Johnny Cochran “if it don’t fit…you musta quit”.

In other words it doesn’t add up, too many villages…not enough Southern Sierra Miwuks.

*note: Later C. Hart Merriam concided that many things he wrote were incorrect. That is documented in Frank Latta’s book about Yokut Indians.

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Yosemite Miwok Indian basket makers or Mono Lake Paiute basket makers in Yosemite?

Carrie Bethel basket - full blooded Mono Lake Paiute

Carrie Bethel Basket – Full blooded Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute.

The Baskets of Yosemite and the basket makers: What people see on the internet is not always what the truth really is.

What we are going to do today is a lesson for all you Paiutes out there about misinformation that is on the web concerning the tribal identification of the baskets of Yosemite, which by the way are tied directly to the Paiutes of Mono Lake and eastern Sierra.

San Francisco Chronicle July 29th 1923 photo and article of Hazel Townsley, Yosemite Chief Ranger Townsley’s daughter and Bertha Dolbow holding Mono Lake Paiute baskets. Article says “…Chief Ranger Townsley, who returning from the Mono Lake country where the basket weaving Indians now live…”

S. F. Chronicle - 7-29-1923

At the height of the early Yosemite Indian Field Days, basket makers from Mono Lake, Nevada and along the other Paiute and Washo areas brought their best baskets to the celebration to win prizes and money. Early Chief Ranger Townsley had an idea to generate more interest in Yosemite. He went to Mono Lake to drum up the local Paiutes to create baskets for sale for tourists who visited Yosemite. Unlike Miwoks of that time, Paiutes still created baskets. The park service created a basket and bead competition and other Indian contests so the tourists would come and visit. The majority of winners of the basket competitions were mainly Paiutes from Mono Lake, Washoes and some Yokuts. There were never any known Miwok basket makers during that time. This was during a height of the basket making Renaissance of Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes.  Famous Paiute baskets makers Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike, Nellie Jamison, Nellie and Tina Charlie, Daisy Mallory, Alice Wilson, and other Paiutes from Mono Lake, Benton, Coleville, Bishop and Bridgeport made some of the most impressive baskets in California Indian history…yet no one would ever know this. That is because their talents and mastery went unnoticed because the Park Service was pushing the story of the Yosemite Miwoks, who did not make any of those large baskets you see in Yosemite Indian Museum today. The Park Service went with the lie that the baskets were done by Yosemite Miwoks, the Paiutes were always placed secondary, and sometimes the Paiutes were not mentioned at all. The Park Service instead went with the myth of the great Yosemite Miwok basket makers, when there were none during that time.

What we are going to do is examine the information of one particular well known basket making family in Yosemite, who are really Paiutes from Mono Lake and how many writers started to add “Yosemite Miwok” to all their stories and books. Yet the majority of the baskets were done by Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes.

Mono Lake Paiute winners Yosemite Indian field days - Mono Indians

Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute basket makers at Yosemite Indian Field Days basket competition 1925. Most of the winners were Mono Lake Paiutes. From Left to Right: Tina Charlie, Carrie Bethel, Alice Wilson, Leanna Tom and Maggie “Taboose” Howard – Mono Indians with Chief Ranger Townsley.

So let’s look at this site. This one really had bad information.

http://www.kstrom.net/isk/art/basket/yosemite.html

“Lucy Parker Telles (1870-1956) was of Yosemite Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute descent. Shortly after her son Lloyd was born in 1902, her husband Jack Parker, Paiute, died.”

Lucy Telles with her prize winning basket

Lucy Telles, famous Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute with one of her prize winning baskets

Lucy Parker’s maiden name was Tom, she was Lucy Tom. Lucy Tom’s father was full blooded Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute Bridgeport Tom and her mother full blooded Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute Louisa Sam-Tom. Lucy Tom’s mother’s grandparents were full blooded Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute Captain Sam and his wife Susie Sam who died on August 1903.

Captain Sam - Mono Lake Paiute at June Lake, Mono County.

Captain Sam at June Lake located in Mono County where he spent the majority of his life. Full blooded Paiute Captain Sam spent half year in Yosemite and the rest of the year in Mono County. He was a famous guide and fisherman for the local Yosemite hotels.

Yosemite Indian Captain Sam 1

Here is Captain Sam’s 1928 California Indian Application,

Yosemite Indian Capt. Sam 2

This is the second page of Captain Sam’s application stating he is full blooded Paiute and so is his wife Susie Sam.

Here is Lucy’s mom, Louisa Sam-Tom’s 1929 California Indian Application;

Yosemite Indian Louisa Tom 1

Second page of the application showing her tribe and where she was born; Paiute from Mono Lake.

Yosemite Indian Lousia Tom 2

So how is Lucy (Tom) Parker Telles a Yosemite Miwok? There has been stories that Susie Sam was a Yosemite Miwok, which there were none, but lets say she was, who much Miwok blood would Lucy Telles have

This means Lucy Telles would be 3/4ths Mono Lake Paiute…so why is she a Yosemite Miwok …and Mono Lake Paiute. She should be Mono Lake Paiute with some Miwok blood, and that is IF Susie Sam was a Yosemite Miwoks and as you can see Captain Sam, her husband, said differently.

The article goes on to say;

“Unlike other California weavers, Miwok-Paiute women concentrated on tiny rod foundations, as well as close coil stitching, an overall effect of great fineness,”

There was no proof that any Miwok made any of those huge beautiful baskets in Yosemite. The only ones who made those big baskets were Mono Lake Paiutes.

“After Lucy Telles died in 1956, the Park Service asked Julia Parker to take over as a cultural demonstrator. She continued her studies with Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike and Ida Bishop (local Miwok-Paiutes),”

Local Miwok-Paiutes?…no Mono Lake Paiutes and a western Mono, Numic people, not one of those mentioned, Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike or Ida Bishop were Miwoks, but Mono and Mono Lake Paiutes. In fact there were no Miwok basket makers in Yosemite during that time.

“To support her family, Lucy turned to basket weaving, which she had learned as a child. Her innovations had a large and continuing influence on the styles of Yosemite weavers. She modified traditional Miwok shapes.”

The basket tradition was not Miwok, but of eastern Sierra Paiute and Washoe construction and design.

Then let’s look at this site.

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2002/05/28_famdy.html

“Julia Parker is a Kashaya Pomo who primarily practices her husband’s family traditions – Yosemite Miwok, Miwok and Pauite – and weaves Pomo style. She also teaches honoring songs that celebrate people and nature. Lucy Parker, a descendant of the Yosemite Indians, is Miwok, Paiute and Pomo and practices those traditions. She was brought up as a youngster in Yosemite in a traditional cradle basket.”

Note in this quote in the second sentence Paiute is last as the identification of Julia Parker’s husband’s tribe.

The fourth line in the quote from the same quote Paiute is after Miwok.

Here is LLoyd Parker’s 1929 application stating he is Paiute. Lloyd Parker is the father of Ralph Parker, Julia’s “Yosemite Miwok” husband. Note he is a “Piute – from Mono County”.

Yosemite Indian parker 1

Here is the second page which shows what tribe Lloyd Parker was from and his wife, Virgina Murphy, is also a Mono Lake Paiute and she is the mother of Ralph Parker.

Yosemite Indian Paker 2

Let’s look at this website;

http://www.californiabaskets.com/juliaparker.html

“After Lucy Telles died in 1956, the Park Service asked Julia Parker to take over as a cultural demonstrator. She continued her studies with Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike and Ida Bishop (local Miwok-Paiutes),”

Once again “Local Miwok-Paiutes”?…no Mono Lake Paiutes and a western Mono, Numic people, not one of those mentioned, Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike or Ida Bishop were Miwoks, but Mono and Mono Lake Paiutes. In fact there were no Miwok basket makers in Yosemite during that time.

Julia Parker in other articles is written as “married a Yosemite Miwok”, but on the same website her husband Ralph Parker is written as he really is “the last FULL-BLOODED Mono Lake Paiute, which by the way there were others;

“When she was 17 she married her husband Ralph and moved to live with his family in Yosemite. Ralph is the last full-blooded Mono Lake Paiute Indian. Ralph’s grandmother, Lucy Telles, was a very famous basket weaver and worked in the visitor’s center museum in Yosemite.”

Then this site which states;

http://groups.msn.com/bayareaindiancalendar/natnlexhibits.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=2799

“Parker has emerged as preeminent in her field. She is an expert in several Native basketry traditions, including her own Pomo traditions and the traditions of her husband’s people, the Sierra Miwok.”

Sorry, the baskets were the tradition of the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes and Ralph is not Miwok. Mono and Inyo County basketry was the real tradition of the Yosemite area.

Here are two June 1927 Indian census rolls showing the Tom, Telles and Parker families as Mono Lake Paiutes, living at Mono Lake, Mono County;

Here are is Bridgeport Tom and his two wives, Louisa and Leanna with their children as Paiutes living at Mono Lake. They are the parents of Lucy Telles.

Bridgeport Tom and his family - Mono Lake Paiute Indian census

Here is the Lucy Telles, mother of Lloyd Parker, father of Julia Parker’s husband Ralph Parker showing they are Paiutes from Mono Lake, Mono County;

Indian census - Paiutes of Mono County

This one is from the prestigious National Endowments of the Arts foundation.

http://www.nea.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=2007_08

“Julia Parker has spent most of her years living and working in Yosemite Village in California.  Although she was born in her native Pomo territory, her early teachers were elder Indian traditionalists and basketweavers of the Sierra Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute people.”

In the passage above Mono Lake Paiute people play second fiddle to the art of Mono Lake Paiute basketry, when Sierra Miwuks were not known to make those big round baskets. That is the tradition of the Mono Lake Paiutes.

This even appears in popular books, like this one called It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Acorn Preparation, by Bev Ortiz.

http://www.heydaybooks.com/public/books/iwlf.html

In the book review it says this;

“It Will Live Forever looks at Julia Parker, a Kashaya Pomo woman who married into the Yosemite Miwok tribe and is still practicing this traditional art as Indian women have done for generations.”

Once again saying that Julia Parker married into the mythical Yosemite Miwok tribe, which there was none. Ralph Parker, her husband is a full blooded Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute. Now even if he had Miwok blood it would be 1/16th Miwok, yes 1/16, and the rest would be 15/16ths Mono Lake Paiute, the tribe that made those huge baskets in Yosemite. The same tribe who were the original people of Yosemite in what Bunnell calls the Paiute colony of Ahwahnee. His grandchildren would be 1/64th Miwok, but have more Paiute blood.

Also in the book It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Acorn Preparation, it has Young Charlie and Chief Dick as Miwoks…they are Paiutes.

Here is what was written about Lloyd Parker, Ralph’s father, husband of Julia Parker in the book by John Bingaman who knew them personally. This from his book The Ahwahneechees, which you can see here by scrolling down to Lloyd Parker;

http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/the_ahwahneechees/chapter_3.html#kalapine

LLOYD PARKER

“Born 1902, near Mono Lake. A Piute. His father was Jack Parker, his mother Lucy Tom. His wife was Virginia Murphy, of Mono Lake. They had three sons. Ralph lives and works in Yosemite for the Road Department. Clarence died about three years ago in an automobile accident. Kenneth lives in Bootjack; near Mariposa; his wife is Dorothy Bolton and they have three children.
Lloyd has lived and worked in Yosemite Valley most of his life, on road and trail crews, and at this date he is making his home in the Indian Village.”
Let’s look at Yosemite Ranger Bingaman’s book. Bingaman writes that Lloyd Parker is a Paiute from Mono Lake and not a Yosemite Miwok. His wife Virgina Murphy is a Paiute from Mono Lake and not a Yosemite Miwok. So how is their son a Yosemite Miwok?

In Tradition and Innovation, Craig D. Bates and Martha Lee, a supposed book of the basketry of the Yosemite – Mono Lake area, the book barely mentions the real baskets makers families, the Murphys, Stevens, Harrisons, James, McBrides, and other Paiutes, instead it focused on several supposed Miwoks, who by the way were really Yokuts, as basket makers and of those women several where not known to make baskets at all, but their descendants are going for federal recognition as “Yosemite Miwoks”.

Yosemite Indian field days basket competition held at June Lake, Mono County

Photo of the Yosemite Indian Fields Days basket competition held NOT in Yosemite Valley, but at Paiute June Lake, in Mono County, where the Mono Lake Paiutes lived. Featured in the photo is Maggie “Taboose” Howard and Tina Jim – Charlie, Mono Lake Paiutes.

So my Paiute people, the next time you see that the “traditions of the Yosemite Miwok basketmaking is still being carried on” on the internet and in books, remember it was really the basketry tradition of the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute Indian people, no matter what some of these people tell you.

So be proud of your legacy my Paiute people, a legacy that was almost co-opted, co-opted by others until now and now you know the truth. That the great basketry in the Renaissance of Yosemites early Indian Field Days was that of our people, the Paiute people of that area.

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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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Manipulating Yosemite Indian history in the park for a few. How the Yosemite Interpretive signs mislead public and are not true.

Around a couple of years ago the Yosemite Fund, in association with Yosemite National Park, started to put up new interpretive signs around Yosemite to teach people the history of Yosemite.

Someone sent us a copy of this photo below;

Yosemite Indian history signs misleads public

with the ancestor of one of our Mono Paiute people. They were happy to see it until they noticed this;

Upclose of Tom Hutchings - Mono Paiute

a native Yosemite Miwok, they have known him as a Mono Paiute.

This led to an awakening to the fact that something wrong was going on in Yosemite National Park. We believe there is a deliberate and intentional effort to erase the memory of Paiutes in Yosemite National Park and change them or ‘imply’ that they were Miwuks. Some people working at the park believed no one would notice and that because they worked at the park, they had the blessing to do so.

We understand that would sound ridiculous if we hadn’t seen so many instances in the park. It takes a Yosemite Native American from the area to realize what is really going on because most of the public would never notice the changes.

One stark example was here at the newly remodeled Visitor Center that reopened April 2007. See below:

http://thehive.modbee.com/?q=node/4395

If you didn’t know it you would believe that the persons in the newly remodeled Yosemite Visitor Center were Miwuks. The Yosemite Indian section starts off with a supposed Miwok legend then 99% of the photos are of Paiutes. This “Implies” to the public the impression that the Indians of Yosemite were Miwoks and that these were photos of Miwok people in Yosemite. This is a big lie.

In fact there are very few, if any early photos of Yosemite Miwoks that is because we have found very few.

So we went to the Lower Yosemite Falls and noticed these signs and once again there was a supposed Miwok Legend done by we believe the biased “Yosemite Indian expert” Craig D. Bates influence;

Yosemite sign by Lower Yosemite Falls

Upclose of sign with this text;

Upclose of legend

The story is a typical Uto-Aztecan tale, like the Llorona. We Paiutes are related to the Aztecs, the Miwoks are not. Here is the story of the Lower Yosemite Falls;

Then the next sign “Living Off the Land”;

Living off the land sign with Paiutes

The sign implies the Ahwahneechees are Miwoks and that they collected acorns. We have verified old accounts and there is no known record of Miwoks ever collecting acorns in Yosemite, only Paiutes. They should also use photos of Miwuks collecting and preparing acorns and not Paiutes and then imply they are Miwuks.

Paiute Taboose with acorns

The photo is of full blooded Yosemite Mono Lake Paiute Tabuce Howard preparing acorns. She is not a Miwok. Use photos of Southern Sierra Miwuks preparing acorns, not Paiutes.

The next photo is a picture of Chief Dick’s house;

Chief Dick's house

Chief Dick and Lancisco Wilson were from the same man, a Paiute named Tupee-na’a or “Rock Chief”, like the famous El Captain. Here is Lancisco Wilson’s grave located in Yosemite National Park with a big “PIUTE” carved on it (we believe that grave marker will disappear soon). Chief Dick’s son, Charlie Dick, stated on a census that he was a “Piute”.

http://thehive.modbee.com/?q=node/2840

The word Koomine, looks the like the Paiute word “Cloud” which is what Koomine is supposed to be in Yosemite, “Cloud’s Rest”.

The next photo on the sign is of Lena Brown and Mary;

Mary and Lena Brown

Lena Brown’s maiden name was Rube, and she was the daughter of Old Rube, a Washoe man. Lena’s mother was Annie Jim, daughter of Paiute or Washo Captain Jim and Annie Jim’s mother was Heck-ko-pah, a Chukchansi woman.

Here is Mary, from Galen Clark’s book about Yosemite Indians;

Mono Mary - daughter of Mono Capt. John

Mono Mary, daughter of Captain John, chief of Yosemite, after the death of Chief Tenaya, Captain John, the Mono Paiute, was the chief for awhile in Yosemite.

The photos were superimposed on the famous photo of Susie and Sadie McGowan, Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes.

background - Susie and Sadie McGowan Paiutes

Background Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes Susie and Sadie McGowan.

But you would never know this looking at the photograph information on the sign;

Acknowledgements - NO Mention of Paiutes

No mention of Paiute, not once. Not even in the small print in the bottom. Yet they are mainly Mono Paiutes. Given you the impression and implying they are Miwoks from the wording on the sign. Not one was a Miwok. This is what is going on in Yosemite and they still continue today.

Then we went to the next sign, the one that had Tom Hutchings called “Adapting To A New Life”;

Adapting to a new life sign

Yosemite Indian interpretive sign by Lower Yosemite Falls, which is wrong.

The top part of the sign;

Sally Ann and John Dick

The sign has Sally Ann and John Dick, children of Chief Dick, an early Paiute chief of Yosemite, who was related to Lancisco Wilson.

Then you move your eyes to the center of the sign and the text reads;

Yosemite house

“They burned the Village of Koomine and forced resident Ahwahneechee people from Yosemite Valley. Later they were permitted to return. Those survivors rebuilt Koomine and adjusted to the new Euro-American presence here.”

They left out that the in 1853 the surviving Ahwahneechees were taken back to Mono Lake and absorbed into the Mono Lake population and became Paiutes. The original Village of Koomine was Paiute and not Miwok.

Then there is a photo;

Calapina and Lena

The photo appears to be Calapina, who was more likely Yokut, since Bates wrote she was the sister of Frank “Hooky” Wilson, a Chukchansi Yokut, but then Craig D. Bates’ writings are suspect in many Paiutes opinions. Calapina also means “half-breed” in Spanish.

The next photo;

Tom Hutchings - first mailman in Yosemite - Mono Indian

“Tom Hutchings, a native Miwok”. No, a Yosemite – Mono Paiute. Even in the small Yosemite Research Library, the park shows that they have Tom Hutchings in their card catalog as a “Mono” Indian. Mono is not Miwok. One is a Numic Uto-Aztecan group and the other is a Penutian group, with different languages, customs, dances and religious practices.

The text and photos were superimposed on this photograph;

Paiute Laundress

The photo is of a Paiute Laundress in Yosemite Valley by J. S. Soule.

Not one Miwok in the group of Indians on this sign, but mainly Yosemite Paiutes, but NOT ONE MENTION OF PAIUTE or Chukchansi.

In fact NOT ONE mention of Paiutes on any of the signs, with the majority of the photos being of Paiute people, but only mention of Miwuks.

Now what would you think if you were Paiute? A Paiute whose ancestors were also part of the story of Yosemite.

So the next time you are in Yosemite, remember this…remember the manipulation and deceit. The purposeful deceit to fool you, the public, for a handful of people working in Yosemite…and the destruction of the Paiute people of Yosemite and our history.  

This is the disgrace of the modern day Yosemite National Park Service to knowingly leave off the tribal identification of Paiute and Yokut from the interpretive signs in Yosemite. To make it appear that they were ALL Yosemite Miwuks. Why not just use photographs of Yosemite Miwuks instead of the park service trying to steal OUR Paiute history and not give us, the Paiutes, our respectful rightful due.

Yosemite National Park even had an official Yosemite Indian ethnologist who should have caught this…oh, wait that was Craig D. Bates, the white man married to a Miwuk woman, who didn’t have a college degree.

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Hetch Hetchy side canyon

William Keith’s Hetch Hetchy Side Canyon, home of Native American Paiute Indians.

Ralph Kuykendall wrote that few people ventured into Hetch Hetchy Valley because of the difficult inaccessibility into the valley from the western side. He also writes that John Muir knew of Mr. Smith, a sheepherder, who owned parts of Hetch Hetchy Valley before it was flooded.

History of the Yosemite Region

Handbook of Yosemite National Park (1921)

by Ralph S. Kuykendall

HETCH HETCHY: EARLY HISTORY

“This interesting counterpart of Yosemite was discovered in 1850 by a mountaineer named Joseph Screech. Not long before that the Valley was a disputed ground between the east and west slope Indians, but the Piutes [Paiutes] from across the range had gotten the upper hand and for years were accustomed to spend some time in Hetch Hetchy in the fall of the year gathering acorns. Screech blazed a trail into the Valley and the rich meadow land became a grazing ground for sheep and cattle. Subsequently the discoverer and two or three other parties took up preemption claims covering most of the Valley floor. The State Geological Survey visited Hetch Hetchy in 1867, and a description of it was published in the San Francisco Bulletin in October of that year. When John Muir first visited the Valley in 1871 he found a sheep owner named Smith in possession. This was doubtless the Smith who later obtained the ownership of a large part of the Valley and of several desirable tracts in the vicinity, and for whom Smith’s Peak and Smith’s Meadow were named. Muir records the fact that in the seventies Hetch Hetchy was frequently called Smith’s Valley.

The number of tourists who visited Hetch Hetchy in the early days was very small, due to its inaccessibility and the superior attractions of Yosemite Valley. John Muir and other enthusiasts did much to acquaint the public with its beauties, but it was only after San Francisco started her fight to secure Hetch Hetchy as a reservoir site that it became widely known. Even then it was better known by report than by actual visitation. The Sierra Club included it in several of its annual outings. In 1905 some Stanford University students conducted a hotel camp there, under the auspices of the Santa Fé railroad, and that served to bring in a number of tourists.”

Hetch Hetchy Valley, before it was flooded, had few visitors except Paiutes and Sheepherders. The Paiute natives to gather acorns and camp and the Sheepherders for grazing. It was a valley that was pristine and picturesque and few footprints had soiled.

Hetch Hetchy Valley side canyon II

William Keith Hetch Hetchy Side Canyon II. The place the Paiute Native people used to camp and live.

Part 10 of the American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam.

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Tuolumne County

History


 

CHRONOLOGY OF TUOLUMNE COUNTY.

1849 – 1881

1853.

July 7. Simson B. Merril, from Maine, killed by Indians, in the mountains, 20 miles east of Sonora.

1856.

Sept. 22. Chilefio killed by an Indian at Springfield, in a gambling quarrel.

1858.

Feb. —. Perley killed by Indians in the mountains east of Sonora.

1861.

July 6.  Jacob R. Giddis, Agent of the Tuolumne County Water Company, found murdered at reservoir near Strawberry. [Said to be Piute Indians].

Oct. 2.  Mexican teamsters murdered in the mountains 45 miles east of Sonora.

1864.

Apr. —. Numerous outrages on Chinamen by Indians and Mexicans were reported at this time.

1866.

Sept. 18. Ali Kew murdered and robbed at Soldiers’ Gulch, probably by Indians.

1874.

Aug. 1. William Morgan, formerly of Columbia, killed by Indians.

1875

Aug. 22. J. Barbetas murdered an Indian woman at Montezuma.

1880

Feb. 1.  Michael Brown, of Brown’s Flat, a miner of Scotch descent, aged 71 years, committed suicide by shooting. [Regarding Brown’s Flat, John Muir in “My First Summer in the Sierra, 1869” page 40-41 wrote about a Mr. Brown at Brown’s Flat];

“Brown had left his mountain home ere we arrived, but a considerable number of Digger Indians still linger in their cedar-bark huts on the edge of the flat. They were attracted in the first place by the hunter whom they had learned to respect, and to whom they looked for guidance and protection against their enemies the Pah Utes [Paiutes], who sometimes made raids across from the east side of the Range to plunder the stores of the comparatively feeble Diggers and steal their wives.”

That the “Diggers” were “attracted” to move to the Brown’s Flat area because they felt they would be protected from their enemies the Paiutes by the white man. So the Paiutes and “Diggers” did not have such a friendly trade as was written later to explain why they found Mono Paiute obsidian arrowheads in the area. They were not traded but used by the Paiutes in the high Sierras and western side.

Tuolumne County 1895

Tuolumne County

History


A History of Tuolumne County, California – San Francisco, B.F. Alley, 1882.

“Big Oak Flat, situated on the south side of the Tuolumne River, was first located and the diggings opened by James Savage, a white man, who had acquired influence over a large number of Digger Indians, whose labor he utilized in his mines, paying them with provisions, blankets, etc., and also protecting them—or pretending to protect them—from the encroachments of other whites.”

Above Big Oak Flat was the wild wilderness of Hetch Hetchy. Where many of the whites would not enter. The few who did, did so on their own peril. You can see that many of the early miners were killed by Indians (Paiutes) who did not care for trespassers. Meanwhile James Savage had made an agreement with lower foothill tribes to dig gold for him.

James Savage had made friends with Miwok Chief Bautista and he had his people work for him. This was years before Savage and the Mariposa Battalion had entered Yosemite and encountered Chief Tenaya and the Paiute Colony of Ahwahni.

Somehow Yosemite National Park Service never read that the Miwoks were already working for James Savage years before he entered Yosemite on March of 1851. The Miwoks had actually helped scout for Savage and the Mariposa Battalion.

Part 9 of the early American Indian indigenous history of Hetch Hetchy Valley before the dam.

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