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Eadweard Muybridge - Yosemite Native American Indian photos

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

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Eadweard Muybridge - Yosemite Native American Indian photos

Postby Yosemite_Indian » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:59 am

A Paiute friend was looking at the Eadweard Muybridge photo collection and saw that the photos were numbered. So he put them together using the numbers and he saw something no one had ever noticed before. Muybridge was making one of his first attempts at motion pictures by taking photos of my Paiute people camped in Yosemite. Muybridge was a pioneer in the early movie and motion pictures and it looks like he was doing the same here.

So my friend put these photos together using the numbers taken in Yosemite around 1870, by Eadweard Muybridge, the famous British photographer.

Below are the photos in sequence, so you can see the progression. Eadweard Muybridge was a pioneer in motion photography.

photo no. 1571; Here Muybridge can see the Indian encampment along the Merced in the distance as he approaches. The Paiute camp is along the Merced River embankment.

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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.

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photo no. 1573; Muybridge is now on the beach and photographing the village. You can see a camp fire smoke in the close distance.

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photo no. 1574; Titled "Piute Chief's Lodge". Here Muybridge goes to the "Piute Chief's Lodge" and photographs the interior of the 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.

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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. It is part of our tribal tradition.

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photo no. 1576; Muybridge walks over and photographs 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.

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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".

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photo no. 1578; he didn'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.

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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.

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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.

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photo no. 1582; Muybridge then goes to photograph women leaching acorns and making bread. One is stirring her basket.

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photo no. 1853; he didn'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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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These photos were numerically sequenced to show Eadweard Muybridge's journeys into Yosemite Valley. These are some of the earliest photos of Indians taken camping in Yosemite.
Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee
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