January 24, 2009

Yosemite's Paiutes mislabeled as Miwoks

Yosemite changes Paiutes on park signsWe wrote a letter to Jon Jarvis, the regional director of the National Park Service, asking them if they could please correct the mistake on the sign. We sent family documentation and Indian census rolls to verify what we were saying was true. Mr. Jarvis wrote us back saying that he trusted the Park’s white ethnologist over the family members and descendants of Tom Hutchings. He told us to write a book and that in his opinion the matter was closed.

We told other Paiutes who are descendants of the Yosemite–Mono Lake region and then we started to investigate the Park’s white ethnologist other writings and Indian genealogy. In his 30 plus years as Yosemite National Parks official Indian ethnologist he had written over 100 publications using his title while working at the Park. We ordered the majority of the 1929 California Indian rolls and Indian census of the area and discovered something shocking. We discovered that major parts of the Yosemite National Park’s Native American history was incorrect and that a lot of Indian genealogy had been “modified.” Many of our Paiute people around Yosemite, especially the men, had been changed to Miwoks. That included our very own ancestor.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Paiutes Call Miwoks Liars.


Rob said...

Anonymous said...

Yosemite mentions Miwok scout who tracked down Chief Tenaya and the Yosemite Ahwahneechees, but not Chief Tenaya on their signs in Yosemite's Indian village.

If you have been following the saga, we Paiutes are breaking down the myth that Yosemite National Park was once the homeland of the fabled Southern Sierra Miwuks also called the Yosemite Mewuks.

For decades Yosemite National Park has been falsely claiming that the original Native Americans of the Yosemite Valley, also called the Ahwahneechees, were Miwoks.

Yet Yosemite National Park has never read the early account by Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, in his book The Discovery of Yosemite and the war that led to that event. If they did they would’ve realized that Chief Tenaya was not Miwok, but a Paiute. The Park even hired, what many believe, an unqualified “Indian ethnologist” by the name of Craig D. Bates, who was married to Mewuk woman during his 30 year tenure working at the park. Surprisingly Mr. Bates never told Yosemite National Park that the early Yosemite Indians were Paiutes, but instead re-enforced the myth of the Yosemite Mewuks. We believe Mr. Bates had to have known that Paiutes were the main tribe of Yosemite because the early story, government documents, and Indian census. In fact the Miwoks were enemies of the early Ahwahneechees led by Chief Tenaya and we will prove it.

Surprisingly the story of Chief Tenaya and the terrible events of his people’s plight have been removed from Yosemite National Parks signs, and pamphlets. That is correct you won’t find the story of Chief Tenaya in the new Yosemite Visitor center or even in the Yosemite Indian museum. There is a phony “Miwok village” created behind the Yosemite Indian Museum which is actually patterned after Eadweard Muybridge’s 1870 photos of a Paiute village he photographed in Yosemite Valley.

This fake Yosemite “Miwok” villages has signs posted throughout the village with signs in both Southern Sierra Miwuk and Central Mewuk language descriptions. Yet there is no documented proof that Central Mewuks ever entered the Yosemite Valley. Not one sign has Paiute, the original language of Chief Tenaya and his band.

There is not one sign in the phony “Miwok” village with the story of Chief Tenaya, BUT surprisingly there is this sign:


The sign is in the “Miwok” village, I believe paid for by the Yosemite Fund with the assistance of the Yosemite Association. On the sign is a photo of Mono-Paiute Tom Hutchings, who is now written as a “Yosemite Miwok,” but that is not true. Tom is holding a bow and the sign talks about Miwok bows.

Here is an up close photo of the sign and here is what is written on the sign:


“At the turn of the century, Miwok people remembered Kau’tcitti (also known as Captain Lewis) as the last professional bowyer in the Yosemite area.”

We believe the Yosemite National Park staff does not know who Kau’tcitti is. We believe the Park Service got many of the information for the Indians of Yosemite from Craig D. Bates, the so-called “Indian expert” and he supplied this information. The reason we believe this is because of the phonetic spelling of Kau’tcitti. Because Kau’tcitti was written about in Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell’s book. You see Kau’tcitti, or Captain Lewis of the supposed Yosemite Miwoks, is COW’CHITTY or Chowchitty or Cow-chit-tee.

Now who is COW’CHITTY (Kau’tcitti) you ask?

He was the sworn enemy of the original Native American Indians of Yosemite Valley, the Ahwahneechees. He was an enemy of Chief Tenaya and the leader of the Indian scouts who helped track down Chief Tenaya. Cow’chitty and his men assisted the Mariposa Battalion, and hunted down the original Indians of Yosemite, the Ahwahneechees. This is what caused the murder of Chief Tenaya’s son. The military even wrote that without Chow’chitty’s help the Mariposa Battalion would have not been successful in hunting down the Yosemite Indians.

Cow’chitty or Captain Lewis did not live in Yosemite Valley. His people lived on the southern tip of Yosemite National Park below Wawona. When James Savage and the Mariposa came upon Cow’chitty and his brother, Ponwatchee, village, Cow’chitty recognized James Savage AS HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW because one of James Savage’s wives was Chow’chitty’s sister. Savage told Ponwatchee and Cow’chitty that they were getting all the tribes in the Yosemite area to come in and sign the treaties because they were attacking miners who were entering the mountains to prospect for gold.

Cow’chitty VOLUNTEERED to help his white Brother-in-law, James Savage, the famed Indian fighter, to help Savage capture Chief Tenaya and his band.

Here is what the eye-witness, Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell, wrote about Cow’chitty in his book The Discovery of Yosemite:

Page 223

Major Savage sent Cow-chitty, a brother of Pon-watch-ee, the chief of the Noot-choo band, whose village we surprised before we discovered the valley, as chief of scouts. He was accompanied by several young warriors, selected because they were all familiar with the Sierra Nevada trails and the territory of the Pai-utes, where it was thought probable the expedition would penetrate.

Captain Boling had in his report to Major Savage, complained of the incapacity of Sandino as guide, and expressed the opinion that he stood in awe of Ten-ie-ya. By letter, the Major replied, and particularly advised Captain Boling that implicit confidence could be placed in Cow-chitty and his scouts, as the sub-chief was an old enemy of Ten-ie-ya, and was esteemed for his sagacity and wood-craft, which was superior to that of any Indian in his tribe. Captain Boling had improved in health and strength, and concluded to venture on his contemplated expedition over the mountains. He at once ordered preparations to be made. A camp-guard was detailed, and a special supply train fitted out. All was ready for a start in the morning. During the evening Captain Boling consulted our new guide [Cow’chitty] as to what trail would be best to follow to the Mono pass and over the mountains. Cow-chitty had already learned from our Po-ho-no scouts and those of his own tribe, the extent of our explorations, and had had a long talk with Sandino as well as with Ten-ie-ya. The mission Indian and the old chief tried to make the new guide believe that the Yosemites had gone over the mountains to the Monos. Indian-like, he had remained very grave and taciturn, while the preparations were going on for the expedition. Now, however, that he was consulted by Captain Boling, he was willing enough to give his advice, and in a very emphatic manner declared his belief to the Captain that Ten-ie-ya's people were not far off; that they were either hiding in some of

Page 224

the rocky canyons in the vicinity of the valley, or in those of the Tuolumne.

page 231

They had been anxious to embroil us in trouble by drawing us into the canyons of the Tuolumne [Hetch Hetchy], where were some Pai-utes wintering in a valley like Ah-wah-ne.

In other books the military said that without the assistance of Kau’tcitti or Cow’chitty they would have NEVER have found Chief Tenaya and his Ahwahneechee band. He also wrote that the Miwok leader, Cow’chitty, was an “old enemy” of Chief Tenaya.

So how can Yosemite National Park give Kau’tcitti (Cow’chitty) prominence on signs in the Yosemite Indian Village, but there is no mention of the original Chief of the Yosemite Ahwahneechees, Chief Tenaya? The leader of the white man’s scouts, Kau’tcitti, gets an honorable mention on Yosemite Park signs behind the Yosemite Indian Museum, but Chief Tenaya, the chief of the original Yosemite Indians does not.

Yosemite National Park gives an honorable mention to the Miwok scout leader who tracked down the Ahwahneechees in the Indian village, but totally leaves out Chief Tenaya? The leader of the Yosemite people.

This is a tragedy, the tragedy and the injustice that is the lies of the Yosemite National Park. The lies the Park still promotes to the unsuspecting general public.


Now how crazy is that? These people at Yosemite National Park don't do any research before they create "signs" and Yosemite History for the general public, but on those signs they are teaching the the white man's Indian scouts were the heroes and great men, but don't know that they were the scouts for the white militia who tracked down the original Yosemite Indians, the Paiutes. That is because they are getting their information from the Miwuk descendants of the militia scouts.

Now how crazy is that. Yet the Park stands by their ignorance.

Rob said...

I reposted this very long comment from Anonymous without the misspellings, the irregular line breaks, and the invalid HTML commands.

A question: You say the "Miwuk descendants of the militia scouts" are giving the park incorrect information. Do you think the Miwuks know what they're saying is false? In other words, are they ignorant of the facts or are they lying about them?

Anonymous said...

I believe they don't know about their history. I suspect some have to know, especially now.

I think some of their ancestors 'fibbed a little' to get jobs and free housing at Yosemite National Park during the start of the Depression. I think their ancestors did not tell them and they grew up believing they were the original Indians. If you keep kids in the dark they won't blurt out to the Park Rangers things that they don't need to know. After awhile the kids grow up believing the 'hype'.

One example is Mary Wilson. The early park superintendent knew she was not from Yosemite, but gave her a free house in the Park because she and her daughters were good laundry workers. Today many of her descendents believe that she was an original Yosemite Indian, but that is not true. The family was from the Central Valley, but only went to work for the Park during the time of the Depression, and if you said you were a "Yosemite Miwok" the Park gave you a plum job and house first. The Park Service mistakenly thought The original Indians of Yosemite were Miwoks because of one guy named Stephen Powers who was only a journalist working for the Overland Monthly. Powers wrote a series of articles for the Monthy. He would go to visit places through out the state and write about the Indians he encountered. Around 1867 he went to Sonora and talked to the workers of the whites, who were the Miwoks and interviewed them and that is were it got all wrong. After that people like Kroeber and Merriam have been looking for Powers' Miwoks. If they had read Lafayette H. Bunnell's book "The Discovery of the Yosemite" they would've read that the original Ahwahneechees had been wiped and the surviviors taken back to Mono Lake and absorbed back into the Paiute population in 1853. The Indians that came from the foothills to fill the void left by the Ahwahneechees can be traced back to the Indian scouts and gold diggers for the whites and militia, but they don't know about their past because like many Indians today they never went back and looked. Later on a white guy who was married to Miwok woman became the Indian expert for Yosemite. This person loved to make Miwok-Maidu regalia. He was really into their style of dancing. We believe he had to have known because the evidence is so clear. Instead of writing the truth, we believe he kept them in the dark, and helped them continue their 'fantasy' of the fabled "Yosemite Miwoks", maybe also for his own personal reasons and enjoyment. Yet the evidence is clear they were from the scouts and the original Indians of Yosemite were now Paiutes, and always were Paiutes.

Today if you go to the Park the Indian Scouts and allies of James Savage and U.S. military are prominently honored as the original Indians of Yosemite. That would be Kau'tcitti (Cowchitty), Bautista and Cypriano. They even have them in books and signs in the Indian village as part of the "Indians of Yosemite", but in fact they were the enemies of the original Indians of Yosemite Valley and feared them, and they were the Paiutes.

But any mention of Chief Tenaya the man who never signed any treaty and tried to push the intruders out has been omitted from the Indian village in favor those who helped the military and gold seekers. The ancestors of those now claiming to be the original Indians of Yosemite Valley, who are now going for federal recognition.

I suspect they now know after it hit the internet, who they really were now.


Anonymous said...

From this book:

Big Jim Savage; Blonde King of the Indians and Discoverer of Yosemite

By Ben T. Traywick

World Renowned Author

Chapter 12
Chief Tenieya had tried every trick imaginable to prevent the white soldiers from going in to the mountains. Thwarted at every trick he had even tried to escape a number of times. Finally, tired of Tenieya’s and Sandino’s repeated efforts to convince the white men that the Yosemites had joined the Monos over the mountains. Captain Boling picked himself a new guide, called Cowchitty. The new guide was an old enemy of Tenieya’s Yosemites and was a sub-chief of the Nootchee tribe.
Boling consulted his new guide as to the whereabouts of the Yosemites and how to find them.
Cowchitty considered the captain thoughtfully for a moment then replied, “Tenieya’s people near about; hide in rocks, brush, canyons. May be in valley, may be in Tuolumne. We go higher in mountains; horses no can go.”
The captain believed that Cowchitty’s advice was good, so he left the horses and supply train behind. They climbed thru Pyweack Canyon and took the trail on the north cliff, marching on foot and carrying provision for three days.
Not one of the white men could see any sign of the Yosemite’s trail that Cowchitty followed thru the mountains, over snow up to ten feet deep, over rocks and wind swept ridges. Bunnell later wrote that Boling remarked, “I could follow the trail of a flying woodpecker more easily than that one that Cowchitty reads.”
Soon the guide approached Boling and said, “We not far from their camp. Trail leads to head of Pyweack where Paiute and Mono trail goes to valley of Tuolumne. If they not at lake, Yosemites have crossed mountains. Better you send out scouts now to catch Yosemite guards that watch valley trail.”
Boling nodded and selected his strongest and fastest runners. He sent these scouts out in pairs, one Nootchee Indian warrior and one white soldier. They moved out to clear the trail of guards and the rest of the column moved slowly and steadily upward.
Late that day they came upon the guide, Cowchitty, sitting on a log waiting for them. He had been scouting far in advance of the main party. When Boling came up the guide pointed to a tall, granite peak and said, “Rancheria”. There upon the shores of a beautiful lake lay the Indian village, nestled at the base of a cliff. Certainly no white man had ever gazed upon the lake before.

Another story about Kau'tcitti or Cow'chitty.