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One very definite evidence that the Yokuts occupied the entire Delta Area is the series of folklore stories recorded by Dr. C. Hart Merriam, published in book form in 1910 and titled The Dawn of the World. A number of these stories were obtained from self-styled Mewalk informants. But, with the exception of Mewalk names for the mythological characters, the accounts are as identical with Yokuts accounts as variant Yokuts statements are among themselves. I recorded an identical myth1 from George Rivercomb, half blood Chukchanse Yokuts, who credited it to Chauchela Yokuts of lower Chowchlla and Fresno Rivers.
In the 1930s, when I interviewed Dr. Merriam at his summer home near Lagunitas, this state, we discussed this [Yokuts occupying the entire Delta Area] at length. He had studied the area more and had changed his opinion as to the range of the Yokuts and was more of the opinion of Drs. A. L. Kroeber and J. P. Harrington, who attributed the entire Delta area to the Yokuts.
Also, Merriam, 1910, 67 in his Birth of Wek-wek and the Creation of Man, gives more definite evidence. This last was credited to a “Hool-poom-ne Mewuk” tribe. Definitely, this was a Yokuts tribe. Merriam placed the creation center of the Hool-poom-ne (Hulpumne) and the home of the Creator, Mol-luk (Condor), on Mount Diablo (Oo-yum Be-le). Ex[ce]ept for the fact that Merriam’s “Mewuk” informants used Mewalk names for the principal characters, this is a stock Yokuts story.
Other Merriam accounts of folklore along the Sierra foothills were involved in the same tribal mixup. Original Yokuts had been removed to the missions, abducted by Spanish rancheros or Calvary, killed by the Pestilence of 1833, or hired away as laborers by Sutter, Webber, or Marsh. Then Mewalk drifted in to replace them on their fine hunting and fishing grounds.2 The folklore of these adjoining and heavily intermarried and bilingual groups were so similar in the beginning of settlement of the area that later Yokuts-Mewalk informants applied the Mewalk names to the inherited Yokuts stories.
1See Dawn of the World, p. 45.
2From Pahmit, full blood Dumna and To-tu-yah, full blood Yohamite.