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Yosemite Park mentions Miwok scout, but not Chief Tenaya

Discussion about Yosemite National Park history, including Native Americans, Euro-American pioneers and settlement, and establishment as a national park.

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Yosemite Park mentions Miwok scout, but not Chief Tenaya

Postby Yosemite_Indian » Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:55 am

If you have been following the saga, we Paiutes are breaking down the myth that Yosemite National Park was once the homeland of the fabled Southern Sierra Miwuks also called the Yosemite Mewuks.

For decades Yosemite National Park has been falsely claming that the original Native Americans of the Yosemite Valley, also called the Ahwahneechees, were Miwoks.

Yet Yosemite National Park has never read the early account by Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, in his book The Discovery of Yosemite and the war that led to that event. If they did they would’ve realized that Chief Tenaya was not Miwok, but a Paiute. The Park even hired, what many believe, an unqualified “Indian ethnologist” by the name of Craig D. Bates, who was married to Mewuk woman during his 30 year tenure working at the park. Surprisingly Mr. Bates never told Yosemite National Park that the early Yosemite Indians were Paiutes, but instead re-enforced the myth of the Yosemite Mewuks. We believe Mr. Bates had to have known that Paiutes were the main tribe of Yosemite because the early story, government documents, and Indian census. In fact the Miwoks were enemies of the early Ahwahneechees led by Chief Tenaya and we will prove it.

Surprisingly the story of Chief Tenaya and the terrible events of his people’s plight have been removed from Yosemite National Parks signs, and pamphlets. That is correct you won’t find the story of Chief Tenaya in the new Yosemite Visitor center or even in the Yosemite Indian museum. There is a phony “Miwok village” created behind the Yosemite Indian Museum which is actually patterned after Eadweard Muybridge’s 1870 photos of a Paiute village he photographed in Yosemite Valley.

This fake Yosemite “Miwok” villages has signs posted throughout the village with signs in both Southern Sierra Miwuk and Central Mewuk language descriptions. Yet there is no documented proof that Central Mewuks ever entered the Yosemite Valley. Not one sign has Paiute, the original language of Chief Tenaya and his band.

There is not one sign in the phony “Miwok” village with the story of Chief Tenaya, BUT surprisingly there is this sign:


The sign is in the “Miwok” village, I believe paid for by the Yosemite Fund with the assistance of the Yosemite Association. On the sign is a photo of Mono-Paiute Tom Hutchings, who is now written as a “Yosemite Miwok”, but that is not true. Tom is holding a bow and the sign talks about Miwok bows.

Here is an up close photo of the sign and here is what is written on the sign:


“At the turn of the century, Miwok people remembered Kau’tcitti (also known as Captain Lewis) as the last professional bowyer in the Yosemite area.”

We believe the Yosemite National Park staff does not know who Kau’tcitti is. We believe the Park Service got many of the information for the Indians of Yosemite from Craig D. Bates, the so-called “Indian expert” and he supplied this information. The reason we believe this is because of the phonetic spelling of Kau’tcitti. Because Kau’tcitti was written about in Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell’s book. You see Kau’tcitti, or Captain Lewis of the supposed Yosemite Miwoks, is COW’CHITTY or Chowchitty or Cow-chit-tee.

Now who is COW’CHITTY (Kau’tcitti) you ask?

He was the sworn enemy of the original Native American Indians of Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahneechees. He was an enemy of Chief Tenaya and the leader of the Indian scouts who helped track down Chief Tenaya. Cow’chitty and his men assisted the Mariposa Battalion, and hunted down the original Indians of Yosemite, the Ahwahneechees. This is what caused the murder of Chief Tenaya’s son. The military even wrote that without Chow’chitty’s help the Mariposa Battalion would have not been successful in hunting down the Yosemite Indians.

Cow’chitty or Captain Lewis did not live in Yosemite Valley. His people lived on the southern tip of Yosemite National Park below Wawona. When James Savage and the Mariposa came upon Cow’chitty and his borther, Ponwatchee, village, Cow’chitty recognized James Savage AS HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW because one of James Savage’s wives was Chow’chitty’s sister. Savage told Ponwatchee and Cow’chitty that they were getting all the tribes in the Yosemite area to come in and sign the treaties because they were attacking miners who were entering the mountains to prospect for gold.

Cow’chitty VOLUTUNEERED to help his white Brother-in-law, James Savage, the famed Indian fighter, to help Savage capture Chief Tenaya and his band.

Here is what the eye-witness, Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, wrote about Cow’chitty in his book The Discovery of Yosemite:

Page 223

Major 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, 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, 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 Boling 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 [Cow’chitty]
as to what trail would be best to follow to the Mono pass and over the
mountains. Cow-chitty had already learned from our Po-ho-no 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. 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 was 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 of

Page 224

the 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 [Hetch Hetchy], where were some Pai-utes wintering in a valley
like Ah-wah-ne.

In other books the military said that without the assistance of Kau’ tcitti or Cow’chitty they would have NEVER have found Chief Tenaya and his Ahwahneechee band. He also wrote that the Miwok leader, Cow’chitty, was an “old enemy” of Chief Tenaya.

So how can Yosemite National Park give Kau’tcitti (Cow’chitty) prominence on signs in the Yosemite Indian Village, but there is no mention of the original Chief of the Yosemite Ahwahneechees, Chief Tenaya? The leader of the white man’s scouts, Kau’tcitti, gets an honorable mention on Yosemite Park signs behind the Yosemite Indian Museum, but Chief Tenaya, the chief of the original Yosemite Indians does not.

Yosemite National Park gives an honorable mention to the Miwok scout leader who tracked down the Ahwahneechees in the Indian village, but totally leaves out Chief Tenaya? The leader of the Yosemite people.

This is a tragedy, the tragedy and the injustice that is the lies of the Yosemite National Park. The lies the Park still promotes to the unsuspecting general public.

Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee
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