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Miwok stated as being "originally lived" in present Yosemite

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

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Miwok stated as being "originally lived" in present Yosemite

Postby Yosemite_Indian » Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:07 pm

On Dan's main Native American Yosemite page he wrote this:

The Southern Sierra Miwok (Me-wuk), which means “people”, originally lived in present Yosemite National Park and central western Sierra Nevada foothills in California.

The Northern Paiute or “Western Mono” originally came from the eastern Sierra Nevada area and settled in Hetch Hetchy Valley and, as part of Chief Tenaya’s tribe, Yosemite Valley. The word Paiute came from Fremont. Paiute call themselves Numa in their language, which means “people”

There is no proof that the "Southern Sierra Miwok or Miwuk" were the original people of Yosemite. The original Indians of Yosemite were Paiutes.

In fact all evidence shows they were not, but came in later with the white man.

Here is how we can prove this.

Before the white entered Yosemite Valley and Hetch Hetchy Paiutes and Miwoks were enemies. There is no way that Chief Tenaya's father could enter the Mono Lake area with out being attacked and killed unless he was part of the many Paiute bands.

Here is where that is explained;


Miwok Chief of Yosemite? Why Chief Tenaya could not be Miwok.

So that someone who believes that Tenaya was half Miwok can explain their position in a clear discussion.

I will explain the position how and why Tenaya could not be half Miwok, showing evidence and how we came to that conclusion.

First here is the myth.

"There was a MIWOK village of Ahwahnee and in early times it was destroyed by a plague or some disaster. A handful of survivors, led by their chief, took some of the survivors to Mono Lake and the friendly Paiutes took them in. There the MIWOK chief settled amongst their friends the Paiutes and then he married a Mono Lake Paiute woman. Tenaya was born from that union and when he was old enough a Miwok medince man from his father's band who lived at Mono Lake advised Tenaya that it was safe to return to his father's homeland in Yosemite. So Tenaya took 200 to 300 of the remaining Miwoks living amongst the Mono Lake Paiutes back into Yosemite and re-established his father's tribe. The Miwoks and Paiutes visited each other and their was a friendly trade".

That is what the Yosemite National Park and the Southern Sierra Miwuks want people to believe.

Now here are the problems to that "legend".

1. Owahnee (Ahwahnee) is a place in Paiute legend. In W. A. Chalfant's book The Story of Inyo, Chalfant documents Harry Cromwell's old Paiute creation story of Owahnee (Ahwahnee) a place in Paiute legends that was destroyed and the people scattered. So that would match the place of Chief Tenaya's father which was destroyed and the people scattered.

2. Here is what happened to "foreign" Indians from the the Southern Sierra Miwuk area of Northern Madera County who ventured into their "friends", the Mono Lake Paiutes, territory. From Edward Curtis's The North American Indian. Curtis was interviewing Paiute Blind Tom who lived at Mono Lake.

I will transcribe it;

The "Diggers" from what is now the northern part of Madera county, once came across the mountains to harvest pine-nuts, and the Paviotso [the other name for Paiute], resenting the intrusion, set upon them and killed some. In revenge the strangers threatened to "witch" them. The Paviotso, when they heard of this, went up into the mountains along Pagwi-hu ("Fish River"), which flows into the Mono Lake from the south, surrounded a camp, and killed nearly all the people. One who escaped brought help, but these also were destroyed by the Paviotso [Mono Lake Paiutes].

Meaning that if Chief Tenaya's father took a handful of Miwok survivors to Mono Lake they would have been set upon and killed by the Paiutes there.

3. The myth of "friendly trade". There is also more evidence that Paiutes and Miwoks were fighting with each other during that time. Here is from C. F. Hoffmann's notes;


Here is the 'friendly trade' between the Mono Lake Paiutes and Miwoks from C. F. Hoffmann's notes;

"The valley was first visited, in 1850, by Mr. Joseph Screech, a mountaineer of this region, who found it occupied by Indians. This gentleman informed me that, up to a very recent date, this valley was disputed ground between the Pah Utah Indians from the eastern slope and the Big Creek Indians [Miwoks] from the western slope of the Sierras; they had several fights, in which the Pah Utahs proved victorious. The latter still visit the valley every fall to gather acorns, which abound in this locality. Here I may also mention that the Indians speak of a lake of very salt water [Mono Lake]."

C. Hart Merriam, the noted California Indian ethnologist ,wrote that the Miwoks and Paiutes did not start trading until 1870, some 20 years after the discovery of Yosemite Valley and white men already swarmed the area.

4. Paiutes were extremely war-like during that time, while Miwoks were docile. Paiutes would not have allowed another unrelated tribal group to enter it's area. Tribes in the area fought over food and other natural resourses.

5. In one generation how can a handful of survivors become 200 to 300 Miwok people. That would be impossible.

6. If Tenaya was Miwok, what does his name mean in the Miwok language? In Paiute Ta-i-na'ah mean "Our father". Which would make sense because most chiefs were considered the 'father'.

7. The two times Tenaya escaped the reservation you would think he would have gone to Miwok Calaveras or Stanislaus Counties. That is where the rest of the Miwoks lived. So why not hide out with them if they were from the same tribal group? That would make sense. Why did Tenaya make the long hard journey by foot over the high snow covered Sierra Nevada to the enemy of the Miwoks, the Mono Lake Paiutes?

8. Tenaya stated when he was captured that he did not want to go the reservation because his enemies were there. That was the Miwoks and Yokuts.

9. When Tenaya was captured, James Savage, who led the Mariposa Battalion and could speak Miwok, said that Tenaya and his band spoke Paiute and Mono. If they were Miwok, why didn't Tenaya speak Miwok to James Savage and his captures.

10. Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, who was the only man to meet and write about Tenaya and his band, wrote that "Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee". He didn't write that Tenaya was a Miwok or that he founded the Miwok colony of Ahwahnee.

11. The name Yosemite came from the early Southern Sierra Miwuk chief Bautista, who the Miwoks today still claim was their chief. In the Miwok language Yosemite means "They are the Killers". If they were the same tribe why would they call themselves the Killers? Plus why couldn't Bautista just tell them to give themselves up if they were the same people? Because they weren't.

12. In the account of Chief Tenaya it was written "The Monos bragged about Tenaya and his war exploits". If Tenaya was the chief in the Yosemite Valley who was he fighting? It wasn't the Paiutes and Monos. So that would only leave the Miwoks. So in reality Chief Tenaya was the enemy of the Miwok people.

13. Cowchitty or Chowchitty, was the chief who assisted the Mariposa Battalion capture Chief Tenaya. He was described as "an old enemy of Chief Tenaya", yet Cowchitty's descendents are some of those claiming to be from Chief Tenaya's band. How is that possible?

14. Some claim that the Ahwahneechees are Miwoks because they have the "...chee" at the end of their name. Yet the Western Monos, who are related to the Paiutes are called MonaCHEE and the Paiutes cousins the ComanCHEES are related.

15. "friendly" intermarriage. In John Muir's and James Hutching's books they described Miwoks fearing the Paiutes because they would raid their villages and STEAL their women. So there was no "friendly" intermarriage, but women stealing during raids.

John Muir in "My First Summer in the Sierra, 1869" page 40-41 wrote about a Mr. Brown at Brown's Flat;
http://www.yosemite.ca.us/john_muir_wri ... ml#page_39

"Brown had left his mountain home ere we arrived, but a considerable number of Digger Indians still linger in their cedar-bark huts on the edge of the flat. They were attracted in the first place by the hunter whom they had learned to respect, and to whom they looked for guidance and protection against their enemies the Pah Utes [Paiutes], who sometimes made raids across from the east side of the Range to plunder the stores of the comparatively feeble Diggers and steal their wives."

16. Some claim if the Mono Lake Paiutes were so friendly with Chief Tenaya why did they kill him and most of his band. Well here is the account of that story. The second time Tenaya went to hide out with his 'cousins, the Mono Lake Paiutes, the Paiutes gave Tenaya and his band an allotment of land. The Paiutes would never have done that if the Ahwahneechees were Miwoks. When the Paiutes were away horse raiding from Spanish ranches around San Bernardino some of Chief Tenaya's men took that oppurtunity to re-pay the Mono Lake Paiute's hospitality by stealing their hosts' horses and left for Yosemite Valley. The Paiutes returned and found out what they had done and followed them back into Yosemite Valley. There they found Tenaya and his band resting after having a big feast of horse flesh. The Paiutes pounced on them, killed Tenaya, and killed the majority of them, only leaving the old people. A few men did escape, but the remaining survivors were taken back to Mono Lake were they were absorbed back into the Paiute tribe. So how are those now claming to be Southern Sierra Miwuks on the western side Ahwahneechees if the remaining survivors were returned to Mono Lake? Why did the Paiutes originally hide out Tenaya if he was not Paiute?

17. Even those few men who escaped were Paiutes. The early leaders in the Yosemite Valley were Lancisco Wilson, Chief 'One-Eyed' Dick, Captain Rueben, Captain Jim and Captain Sam. Who were the Miwok chiefs of Yosemite?


Captain Paul never said he was Miwok and Francisco Georgely was a Chowchilla Yokut who only went to work in Yosemite.

18. In an early Stockton Newspaper in 1851, Southern Sierra Miwuk chief Bautista describes the Yosemite Indians as "Monahs". Monah is not Miwok.

19. Description of Chief Bautista, who the Southern Sierra Miwuks claim was their early chief and leader of the Yosemite Ahwahneechees (I don't know where they got the concept that Bautista was a Yosemite Indian?). The military put Bautista in charge of catching runaway Indians who had escaped the reservation that they were forced to live on. This is the same reservation that Tenaya and his people were held and hated. They had escaped the reservation to go back with their 'cousins' the Mono Lake Paiutes. This is from "Indians and Indian Agents, the origins of the reservation system in California, 1849-1852" by George Phillips.

the footnotes are from John Mckee Journals to U. S. congress 4-5-1851.
I will transcribe the text;

"Bautista, whose Potoyanti's [Southern Sierra Miwoks] had gathered in the vicinty of commissioners' camp to attend the forthcoming council, volunteered to bring in the runaways. He was to assure the Indians that if they returned they would be protected from the Chauchila [Chowchilla Yokuts]. A few days later, Bautista arrived with about one hundred of the runaways, and most of the others came in a short time later [these were other tribes in the area]. But a snowstorm prevented Bautista from overtaking Tenaya and his followers, who returned to the Yosemite Valley. For his service the commissioners presented Bautista with two blankets, a pair of pantaloons, a flannel shirt, and a hankerchief."

So how are the Potoyanti's (the Southern Sierra Miwuks) and Chief Tenaya and his Ahwahneechees the same tribe? Tenaya even ridiculed the 'helpers' of the military for taking gifts of clothing from the military.

20. Not once in Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell's book "The Discovery of Yosemite" did he describe Chief Tenaya and his band as Miwoks, but did described them as Paiutes and Monos.
http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/disco ... _yosemite/

21. Tuolumne historical magazine, The Pony Express, confirms that the Yosemite Indians were not the docile Miwoks, but the war-like Paiutes.


22. Tenaya, who as 1/2 Mono Lake Paiute and 1/2 Ahwahnee, married a Mono Lake Paiute woman. So that would mean his children would have been 3/4's Mono Lake Paiute and 1/4 Ahwahnee Paiute. When the Mariposa Battalion entered Yosemite Valley Tenaya's children must have already had children. His sons must've married Paiute women since the majority of his band was Paiutes and Mono. meaning that by then the Grandchildren of Tenaya would be mostly Mono Lake Paiute. So how could Tenaya's children be Southern Sierra Miwok? If you do the numbers, it does not add up.

So TenayaHalfMiwok, explain to Paiutes how Tenaya was half Miwok? So we can have a dialog about it. A friendly discussion about the history of the Indians of Yosemite. This is why we know Chief Tenaya was not Miwok, but a Paiute, but if you have evidence that shows something different which disproves these numbered points it would explain how you believe we are wrong. You can post it here.


Also, found in Yosemite and the area are Great Basin petroglyphs. Great Basin is the term for people coming from the "Great Basin", which are Paiutes and their cousins the Shoshones...NOT Miwok. Those petroglyphs are anicent.
Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee
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hello every one

Postby clark40 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:13 am

Before the white entered Yosemite Valley and Hetch Hetchy Paiutes and Miwoks were enemies. There is no way that Chief Tenaya's father could enter the Mono Lake area with out being attacked and killed unless he was part of the many Paiute bands.
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Re: Miwok stated as being "originally lived" in presen

Postby benstirratt » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:09 am

Perhaps I shouldn't post this on this forum, but I have some insight into this debate, It seems to be biased and in favor of the Paiute. I met a Native Amereican miner camping outside Yosemite who claimed to be Miwok some fifteen years ago. I remember he said Miwok, because I said Mohawk? and he corrected me. I was sleeping outside by a campfire and he wanted to warm himself up before returning home from mining silver on yosemite itself, I probably shouldn't mention that either. I think his name was Ed I can't remember, but he was half Irish on his father's side. He talked about how his mothers people were killed when they built the Hetch Hetchy Dam. He mentioned to, they warred time to time against another tribe, and that I think he said the hetch hetchy was a sanctuary of peace or a valley of peace were they came in truce and protected each other. Well, I'm not certain but he went on about the Hetch Hetchy like for some hours, he said he was hated for being half Irish not considered Indian and such, he said he was an escaped criminal living in hiding. Most of his story was how his mothers people were murdered by the white man who built the dam. Unfortunately I can remember if he blamed corprate hit men, Californians, San Franciscans or The Federal government for the murders. He did say and I remeber clearly that the Water Authority came down and said to surviving Indians if u want to stay you can live on house boats. I am sure at any rate that these two tribes must of logically intermarried and didn't war non stop for the thousands of years these valleys were occupied. There must be a Miwok-Paiute people, has anyone ever thought to look for the survivors, my half Irish friend must be one of them. Again its all the same to me. I'm white. I'm also Jewish, so Christians are all the same to me to, please don't be offended by this post. But you must me mad if you think you can prove a point by treating humans, Miwok or Paiute, like numbers. There must be Miwok-Paiute people, just like there are Judeo-Christians. Like how I beleive Christ had it comming, we Jews get blamed for his murder.And hell lets face it like my fathers people of Anglo-Germanic decent did their fair share of killing Jews. The point is they hated each other, but they still came together and intermarried and now Judeo-christian is somewhat of a common word. Perhaps it's a debate of symantics. I say un-dam the hetch hetchy and give it to the Miwok-Paiute people if they can stop hating and get to the truth of who they really are. I guess the hard evidence is submerged under a million tons of water :lol:
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Re: Miwok stated as being "originally lived" in present Yose

Postby Yosemite_Indian » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:03 am

The reason the Miwoks are so quiet is because If you ask a Southern Sierra Miwuk they won't know that much about the history of Yosemite. They can't debate the proof.
Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee
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