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Lafayette Bunnell's book, The Discovery of theYosemite 1851

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

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Lafayette Bunnell's book, The Discovery of theYosemite 1851

Postby archive » Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:05 pm

Author: S. Salas
Date: 11-18-05 01:45

I want to start a discussion of Lafayette Bunnell's book "The Discovery of the Yosemite 1851, and the war that led to that event".
http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/disco ... _yosemite/

There has been a conflict with the deeds of Major James Savage and the testimony of William J. Howard.

Howard has a totally different view of the doings of Savage. His account of Savage is less the flattering.


Re: Discussion of Lafayette Bunnell's book" The Discovery of the Yosemites 1851..."
Author: Josh Booner
Date: 03-14-06 17:56

I read the book and what is interesting is that Bunnell writes that the Ahwahneechee were Mono Paiutes.

I was always told that the Ahwahneechees were Miwoks, but after reading Lafayette Bunnell's book not once did he writes that they were Miwoks. He does write several times that Chief Tenaya's band of Ahwahnees were mainly Mono Paiutes with some outlaws for the western tribes. He also wrote that Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute colony of Ahwahnee, that Tenaya spoke Paiute, and that the Monos considered Tenaya one of their own, that his band was taller and lighter then the "Diggers" of the western tribes, that when Tenaya went back to Mono Lake the Paiutes gave him an area of land, that after his death the rest of the Ahwahneechee were taking back to Mono Lake. That even after his death the only Indians in Yosemite in 1854 were Paiutes. Even before the Mariposa Battalion went in to Yosemite to capture the Screech brothers encounter Paiutes In Hetch Hetchy, which is inside Yosemite. Not one mention of Miwok, Mewuk, Mewoo which is what the Miwoks were called.

In Galen Clark's book the Indians of Yosemite which came out in 1904 he writes that the Mewoos were a NIEGHBORING TRIBE form the vicinity of the Fresno River in the lower valley and NOT Yosemite Indians.


Many archeologists, who never questioned any Paiutes, found obisdian around Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy and Tuolumne county. The assume that Paiutes and Miwoks traded and were great friends. Yet Rev. John Steele in his gold rush memoirs of his time in Columbia California in Tuolumne during the early days of the gold rush wrote that the Indians of that town were Paiutes. Later Webber and Savage made deals with chiefs on the valley floor to get some of their people to work for them in the gold mines in the foothills. That is how those tribes were moved up to the foothills.

The Paiutes and other tribes had several battles even during the early Gold Rush days. The Miwoks, Paiutes and Yokuts fought amongst each other so no tribe would give up their edge to help another foe. The warlike Paiutes and the more peaceful Miwoks had battles over Hetch Hetchy, Stoddard Springs and other areas. They were not trading partners. The Miwoks were afraid of the Yokuts and the Yokuts were afriad of the Paiutes. Not until the whites entered the picture and around 1900 did they start to get along, but before that never.

Brian Bibby wrote in Deeper than Gold in an interview with Manuel Jeff that the Miwoks HATED the Paiutes. So why would they trade obsidian with them? Obsidian gave Paiutes advantage in war and obsidian around Yosemite only came from Paiutes areas on the east.

If the archeologists only read the early accounts they would find out that PAIUTES LIVED IN THE HIGH SIERRAS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE SIERRAS NOT ONLY THE EASTERN SIDE.

It's all in the oldest accounts of the gold rush and not by Kroeber and others who talked to one of two Indians in Sonora. The Paiutes did not talk to whites in early times because they were upset that now the power had shifted from them to the whites. On the other hand the Miwoks made agreements with whites to try to protect themselves from their old enemies the Paiutes and from whites who would shoot them on sight. The second part did not work to well. In one account a white writer tries to talk to Paiutes in Yosemite but they ignore him and laugh at him so he ends up talking to another type of Indian, probably a Miwok or Yokut. The Paiutes resented the whites who had replaced them as the power in the area.


Re: Discussion of Lafayette Bunnell's book" The Discovery of the Yosemites 1851..."
Author: S. Salas
Date: 05-28-06 14:55

I found how you can identify that the Yosemite Indians. There is a site with "Discovery of the Yosemite, 1851" on PDF. I don't know off hand where it is, but you can find. Someone send me a link to it and just like they wrote it worked.

Yeah, the early Yosemites were NOT Miwoks, but Paiutes. I also read that someone wrote that the only person who met and wrote about Chief Tenaya and the Ahwahneechees was Lafayette H. Bunnell. That means a lot of other books are not really correct when they say that the Ahwahneechees were Miwoks. Why would the Ahwahneechees only go back and forth from Mono Lake to Yosemite if they were Miwoks? If they were Miwoks, why would the Miwoks have cried when James Savage was killed and that was before Chief Tenayas death. The Ahwahneechees HATED James Savage so they could not have been Miwoks.

Someone explained it best to me this way way it was written that the Miwoks were writting as Yosemites.

After James Savage and the Mariposa Battalion cleared Chief Tenaya and his band out of Yosemite, with the help of the Miwoks. The whites still had the Miwok workers with them. They in fact were the "Indian miners" who assisted Savage and helped him chase the Ahwahneechees when they were attacked at the trading post. Lafayette H. Bunnell was the only person to meet and write about Chief Tenaya, but it took him years to write his memoirs. Bunnell's account was done around the 1880s. Remember he was the only one who wrote and met Chief Tenaya.

Kroeber, Powers and other athropologists wanted to be famous after the success of Ishi. They wanted to the first persons to publish their books. So they went to Mariposa, Coulterville and Sonora, it even says that in some of their bio, and ran into the Miwok workers. They wanted to the first to interview the Yosemite Indians and got the story of the Miwoks from the viewpoint of the Miwoks instead. Not until later when Lafayette H. Bunnell's real account came out that it should that Chief Tenaya was really a Mono Paiute and NOT a Miwok.

So who did they talk too...Miwoks. In fact Miwoks who had assisted James Savage. So that is how it happened. Some might think that I am guessing or am making this up. Yet I know who the ancestors of the Indians of Yosemite are and most white people don't.

That is how I know that they were Paiutes and NOT Miwoks as it has been written for awhile.
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