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Old Cowboy poetry aka Western poetry - with Yosemite Indians

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

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Old Cowboy poetry aka Western poetry - with Yosemite Indians

Postby Yosemite_Indian » Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:07 am

There is an art form called Western or Cowboy poetry done by poets. This poem was done in the early 1900s by early settlers in California,

There was a western history periodical called The Pony Express which was published out of Sonora, California in Tuolumne County. The periodical has many great historical accounts from testimony of early pioneers and first families who settled in the Central California area.

The Pony Express is a rare find for any persons wanting to know the early history of California in the Central Valley and the high Sierra Nevada.

The Pony Express not only had articles and historical accounts in almost every periodical the The Pony Express had one poem about the history of the area. The poems were done in the classic style of Cowboy Poetry which is popular in the West.

Here is one that is of interest to the Paiute people which was sent to me. The person said it was done in the late 1940s. Once again because the people working at The Pony Express were historians they knew that the Paiutes were the original indigenous people of the beautiful Yosemite Valley.

This poem in the Pony Express was a tribute to James Savage, who by the way was not a hero to the Yosemite Paiute people.


Here is the poem written out;


Jim Savage was a frontier man,
Pioneer, trapper, guide.
With pretty squaws, it was his plan
To take’em for a bride.

To them old Jim was always true;
Faithful as stars above.
He never fell for eyes of blue,
Just amber inspired his love.

All Redskin tongues, sign language too,
Jim used ‘em far and wide.
He was a frontier Clamper man.
Pioneer, trapper, guide.

In sundry mines he made his sou,
Then walked the Moke Hill trail.
In Clamper style he wore the blue
Where Zumwalt gathered kail.

When Diggers dug their precious gold
They traded it for grog.
Hardware and whiskey Savage sold
For prices “on the hog.”

Warwhooped Yosemite’s Piute brave
In havoc ‘cross the land,
Came Mariposa’s boys to save
The law and order stand.

Yea, trading posts Jim ran galore,
Throughout the Southern mines,
Where Indians, with high grade ore,
Traded for Savage lines.

Alas, a knave of Harvey brand,
(Ignoble was his aim)
Layed poor Jim low in Tulare land.
There ended all his fame.


“Pitue brave” is a referrence to Paiutes. Paiutes have been written as Piute, Pah-ute, Pi-ute, Pitues, and other ways. But the poem still states that the Yosemite Indians were Paiutes.

The poem about James Savage, refered to as Jim, talks about Savage’s Indian wives for the western side, which it was written he had about a dozen ranging from all ages starting from around nine years old.


In the poem it states that James (Jim) Savage spoke many Native Californian langauges of the tribes on the western side, meaning that he spoke Miwok and probably Yokut.

Also the poem states that the Diggers (Indians from the western side) dug Savage’s gold and made him well-off. Savage also built a trading post. That the Yosemite Paiutes caused “trouble” to the miners and Savage’s trading post, which the western tribes used to bring in gold to trade with him. Also the the Mariposa Battalion led by James Savage took care of the gold miners problem by ’subduing’ the Yosemite Paiutes.

Finally the poem ends with the death of James Savage at the hands of a man named Harvey who shot and killed Savage in the Central Valley.

What is very cool is that this small poem found in The Pony Express tells many aspects of the legend of James Savage and the true identity of the Yosemite American Indians.

A great example of Cowboy Poetry famous in the West, a dying art

Here is a link that is dedicated to the Clampers;


Clampers are dedicated to the history of the Gold Rush, western history and minning, sometimes in a satrical way.

There is even a James Savage branch of Clampers in Madera.


This poem, created by early cowboy poets shows that Paiutes were the original American Indians of Yosemite Valley.
Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee
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