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Yosemite Native People were Piute Outlaws - Obscure history

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

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Yosemite Native People were Piute Outlaws - Obscure history

Postby Yosemite_Indian » Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:28 am

I went back and re-read some interesting blogs concerning the early history of Yosemite. When I was re-visisting the older blogs I remember seeing this one.

There was a historical magazine that went into California history in depth. It was called "The Pony Express" which was published in California's Gold Country in the town of Sonora in Tuolumne County.

This magazine had little known gems of history told by old timers who lived in early California pioneer and settler communities.

One was the historical account of the true Yosemite Native Americans, something many Paiutes always knew. That the early Yosemite Indian people were not the 'docile' Miwoks who were the workers for the early white settlers and gold miners, but the war like Paiutes.

This was an account of historical value regarding the true identity of the American Indians of Yosemite and the area;


From the Pony Express Periodical that dealt with Gold Mining History and Western Pioneer accounts. The Pony Express was published from the town of Sonora in Tuolumne County and dealt with all aspects of Mariposa, Tuolumne and other mining areas, plus early pioneer life through out the west

Here is the transcribed version of the story of the original Yosemite Indians that appeared in the periodical on March 1956. The Pony Express had many more references to Yosemite Indians being Paiutes, and not just this one.


Camp Barbour in 1851 produced
the great frontiersman. Major
James D. Savage, leader of the
Mariposa Battalion, who with
Andrew D. Firebaugh, chased out-
law Piute Indians back into Yose-
mite Valley, which led to its dis-
covery. It is obvious they were
not Miwoks and Diggers. They
were peaceful, certainly not war-
like enough to go out raiding Fort
Barbour (later Fort Miller) built
with soldiers armed with cap and ball
muskets. Also, this is refuted by
the testimony of veteran David
Williamson to the Pony Express
the late Williamson (born at Fort
Churchill in the 1860s) whose
father was an army officer, was
told differently by Johnny Calico,
son of Chief Winnemucca. Johnny
as a kid in 1860, witnessed White
Man's route up the Truckee River
from Lake Pyramid, in the so-
called battle of Lake Pyramid
which was not a "battle" but a
very fast route, so fast as the
soldiers could get away on horse-
back. His father told him that
all unruly renegades in the tribe
(The Piutes had no jails) had
been exiled for generations over
the mountains west of the big
lake (which was Mono Lake).
So there are your tough out-law
Yosemite Indians that Savage and
Firebaugh chased with their Mari-
posa Battalion in 1851.

The Calico name is a well known Paiute last name.

*They were renegade Paiutes. The common people of the Mono Paiutes bragged about their exploits. They were like Robin Hood in their eyes. Chief Tenaya's band was made up of Paiutes from different bands. They were a warrior renegade band and not docile Miwoks.

*There is a town called Firebaugh that now exists in the area.

Here is the actual article;


The Yosemite Indians were outlaw Paiutes.


If you download this book on the website linked above and follow the instructions you will "Discover the Yosemites".

Interestingly the person in charge of Yosemite National Park's Indian history for the last 30 years couldn't find this? Maybe he found it, but mabye it was not what people wanted to see? :wink:
Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee
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