Yosemite Valley Plan, A Threat To Indian Culture

Cultural Genocide

Chief Lemee – Not Miwok – Yokut and Washoe

Chris Brown dressed early on in Lakota Sioux regalia and then in a Miwok regalia, but still wearing a Sioux beaded vest, as he performed for tourists in Yosemite. This made Chris Brown extremely famous and well known amongst the Indians of California. He and Paiute Taboose Howard were now demonstrating for tourists on a regular basis. Chris Brown was a ‘story teller’ and according to the 1996 testimony of one of his cousins, Sue (Wilson) Holderfield, Brown or “Chief Lemee” made up many of the so-called “Miwok tales” as they traveled to schools and other places.

Chris Brown, his aunt Mary Wilson, and her family with white man dressed as a trapper. Indian Field Days 1925.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Sierra some of the Indians, who were mostly half-breeds by now, came in from Madera and started to perform for the tourists in Lakota Plains attire and got paid to do so. They danced and performed for the white tourists. The Park even created a ‘scripted’ scene where the Indians, mainly those from the western side, whooped and hollered, attacked makeshift cabins provided by the Park, and then burnt it down. One of those performers was Chris Brown.

This story reminded me of a story my older uncle told me about life in Yosemite.
The Southern Sierra Miwuks claim that Chris Brown, also known by his Yosemite Park demonstrator name of “Chief Lemee”, was their chief and kept their traditions alive.
The Miwuks claim as their chief, Chris Brown led his people in tribal affairs, led ceremonies, and negotiated between the Southern Sierra Miwuk tribal group and the Yosemite Park. But that was not true.
Chris was the son of Mono Paiute Johnny Brown and Lena Dick well known Yosemite Indians. Chris Brown was a self-described “Chief” who got a clever idea to make some extra money for himself, plus get some recognition.
During the mid 1920s the Park Service Superintendent got an idea to create an Indian Days in Yosemite to attract more tourists to the Park and offer them some entertainment. Yosemite Park Service sent out flyers and word of mouth to Indians on both sides of the Sierra. Here is a copy of the flyer.
Yosemite Indian field days flyer (see above), if any local area Indian dressed in “Indian costume” they would be paid 2 dollars, up to 5 dollars for two days of performing.
My uncle said that when the Paiute men saw that, many of them declined to entertain the white tourists in costume.
The Park Service even went so far as to travel to Mono County and ask the Paiute women to compete in a basket making contests. The Park did not ask Indians in Mariposa and Madera County because the majority of the women on the western side had stopped making baskets. The only ones who kept the basket tradition were the Paiutes and Monos and a handful of Yokuts.
The Paiute women did this because they later on got to sell many of their baskets for more money than they made doing menial work depending on the creativity and size. Also Indian people love to compete.

We have heard many stories were “Chief Lemee” would “exaggerate”.
More accounts.
On several occasions he would talk “Indian” in front of a group of white tourists with an Indian woman interpeting for him.
The woman got tired and with all the questions and said. “Why don’t you just ask…HE SPEAKS ENGLISH”.
Chief Lemee got mad with her, because it broke his “performance” and his mystique.
He was acting like a “Coyote”, which is a trickster in Paiute.
Addendum 2013: (Sent to me to add)
Chris Brown was a great guy or so it is told by many who personally knew him and lived with him in the valley.
Chris Brown also knew his bread and butter came from dancing for tourists in YNP.
It was also well known that he would play tricks on the superintendent as well as tell stories that were not true ( he would go into a trance like state when entertaining NPS officials and tell them they were walking on sacred burial grounds.) ( told to me by someone who knew him very well) Just to give them the creeps .
However he took advantage of his Indianness , he did it because he had to … What else could he do .
That doesn’t make him less Indian , that makes him a Indian who did what he had to do ….and still an Indian who was a rebel of sorts because he screwed with the NPS’ head if you think about it in those terms.But why now ( as said by Dave Forgang of the NPS now retired ) the NPS thinks of him as a true Chief.
He had magical powers and now they have elevated him to true CHIEF ( whatever that is ) Status so they can keep the myth going rather than look like idiots

Chris Brown would perform at local stores as “Chief Lemee, last of the Miwoks”.

Chief Lemee, or Chris Brown became a big hit with tourists and he was well photographed. The tourist used to pay Chief Lemee to perform. Chris Brown recruited some of the younger boys to dance with him and he would pay them. Many of them only did that for awhile to make extra spending money for candy and treats.

Now back to the “Spread the Wealth”, sorry but I had to lay out the history as to how that came to be.

So Chris Brown, Chief Lemee, was making quite a bit for himself as demonstrator and performer. Brown would put a small tin box in front of himself and then perform for the tourists and the more he put on a show, the better he got tips. One day, in the mid 50s, after Chris Brown was performing, the Park Superintendent, the government official, walked over to “Chief Lemee” and took his tin box away and told him that he was going to take his money that he made performing for the white tourists and spread it around to the other Indians now living in the Park as employees.

Chief Lemee was incensed. He asked why the Park Superintendent took his money and was giving it to others who did not dance and perform. The Superintendent told Brown that he had to share with the others, even though they didn’t dance or demonstrate. Chris Brown became mad and resentful because other Indians were now getting money he believed he had worked hard for. In his mind they did not dance for it so why should they get some of his money. Brown also didn’t like some of the other Indians living in the Park and now these same Indians were now going to get a share of his money he worked for.

That caused Chris Brown to become very resentful. That incident caused more division of the Indians that lived in the Park and shortly after that he stopped dancing for the tourists.

This is not an endorsement of any candidate, but just that the slogan “Spread the Wealth” around, made me remember why Chief Lemee started to curtail his demonstrations of “Miwok” culture in the Park.

The slogan also reminds me that Chris Brown was not a chief as the Southern Sierra Miwuks have implied because our early chiefs shared everything they had with our people, and the reason “Chief Lemee” danced was not for tribal pride or for ceremony, but because he was getting paid.


Spread the Wealth”: A Yosemite Indian tale. A story of Chief Lemee.

Yosemite Photo -1952

Viola Martinez biography, California Paiute.
Some of the Paiutes were shocked, and as young Indian children were imprinted with terrible memories of the “Yosemite Indian field days”, as written by Viola Martinez in her book California Paiute, page 40;

“One of the stops on Aunt Mary Ann’s route was Yosemite National Park. When the National Park Service was created in 1916, Yosemite officials and merchants introduced “Indian field days,” ostensibly intended to reinvigorate Indian arts, presumably including fine Paiute basketry. The field days quickly degenerated into stereotypical presentations of Plains Indians. Vi recalls her experience with Indian field days:
Yearly they had a big Indian festival where the people in charge of [Yosemite] Park paid the Indians to come…They would camp in there, and they would have this big ceremony. The first time I saw it, there was a live play where there were horses and houses were burning, Indians coming around and setting fire to them. I thought the Indians were terrible…I was little…I didn’t even know what it was all about. All I knew was that the Indians were horrible. They were coming in and killing the whites.”

Because a certain family was willing to do this they ingratiated themselves to the Park Superintendent who counted on them to now entertain the white tourists. They also started to call themselves Miwoks and started to claim they were the original Indians of Yosemite.

Chris Brown gave himself the Indian name of “Chief Lemee” and was the main person who entertained the tourists. He would dress in full Lakota Sioux regalia and put on shows. Later on a woman complained that he was not dressed in traditional California Indian style regalia and that Brown was dressed in a pan-Indian style. So Brown went to Tuolumne and picked up the style of Indians of that area, many of them who had kept their ceremonial dances and regalia. Brown, to enhance his ‘demonstration’ at the Park, took that tradition, since the Indians of Mariposa did not carry on this tradition anymore, and proceeded to entertain the white tourists.

Chris Brown was Paiute, Yokut, and Washoe based on his ancestry.
Now Sue Holderfield testified that he made up alot of Indian lore as a demonstrator for the National Park Service.
In Sylvia Broadbents testimony she said she began to doubt his testimony. It should also be noted the Southern Sierra Miwoks Petition for Federal Recognition stated he was their Chief which he reallywas not, just a performer.James C. Tucker SEZ: Chief Leemee, Chris Brown, used to spend his later winters at the ranch house home of Fred and Berniece Branson on Snow Creek, Bootjack, Mariposa County, CA. Fred was my Step-Grandpa and Berniece was my Grandmother (mother of Tom Tucker). I remember seeing Chief Leemee there at the ranch house when I was a little kid, and my Dad brought us all down to the ranch from Wawona Ranger Station via the Chowchilla Mtn. Rd. Long ago, but not far away!


May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Important People -Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes- Not Miwok

We are sure you have seen this photo, but wondered who they were.

When entering Yosemite the rangers at the entrance will give you a map and info of Yosemite National Park. On the map is a photo of an Native American family, but with no names.

Well, here is who they. They are the Poker Bill (Jim) family. From left to right – Suzie (Williams) McGowan, holding baby Sade McGowan, Carrie Bethel, Minnie Turner later Mike, and Poker Bill (Jim) father of the three girls and husband of Suzie McGown, Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes;

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Let’s Start Yosemite Indian History At 1870, Not 1851

This shows why Yosemite National Park has many problems that Paiutes have uncovered. The blog discusses that between 1976 through 1981, when Craig Bates was working as the official Indian expert for Yosemite NPS, the Park met with the non-profit American Indian Council of Mariposa aka the Southern Sierra Miwuks. They decided instead of starting the history of Yosemite at the begining they decided to start Yosemite Indian history at 1870-1880. In other words leaving the story of Chief Tenaya and everything up to 1870 out of the early history of Yosemite Native people. Many Paiutes believe that when this was done the story of Chief Tenaya’s birth and the study of his Paiute roots was now not going to be mentioned. Yet Chief Tenaya’s story is the most important story of the history of Native people of Yosemite.

Here is the blog;

Yosemite Miwok history – Yosemite Indian Cultural Program in 1980s was flawed.
“LET’S START YOSEMITE INDIAN HISTORY AT 1870, who needs to know about Chief Tenaya and what happened to the Ahwahnees prior to 1851 and at first contact. That is too messy. Why do we need to know about the EARLY history of Chief Tenaya, and let’s start off Yosemite Indian history WHERE WE WANT TO”.
That is practically what the Yosemite National Park Service and the Southern Sierra Miwuks determined when they decided to “skip” all that ‘messy’ pre-history or first contact. Instead they decided to start “Yosemite History” at 1870s. In other words start off with the mistakes made by Stephen Powers about the “Yosemite Miwoks” and forget about Chief Tenaya and his Paiute history. Yet Tenaya and the prior and first contact IS THE STORY of Yosemite Indian history.
Here is the proof of when they decided to start off Yosemite Indian history at 1870s instead of the famous “discovery” of Yosemite and the first meeting of Tenaya and white militia:
From the report Ethnohistory and Material Culture of Southern Sierra Miwok: 1852-1880 by Craig Bates and Karen P. Wells.

Here is the cover of the report or book:


This is from the Acknowledgement of the same report named above which is very revealing.


In 1981 Yosemite National Park worked in conjunction with the American Indian Council of Mariposa or the Southern Sierra Miwoks (who were mainly employees of Yosemite National Park who want to become a tribe as “Yosemite Miwoks”). Yosemite NPS relied on the non-profit the American Indian Council of Mariposa or Southern Sierra Miwuks as consultants from 1976 to 1981. Yosemite NPS created a program to do the history of the Indians in Yosemite, they wanted to start with Yosemite Indian history PRIOR TO 1851, which would have been the best thing to do get the true history of Yosemite, but it would appear the Southern Sierra Miwuks did NOT want to start prior to 1851 or at first contact. There is a reason for this. That is because prior to 1851 and up to 1900 the story would show that the early Indians of Yosemite prior and right after first contact were Paiutes from Mono Lake and not Miwoks. Miwoks were the scouts for the white military and miners for the whites.

So that is why the official Yosemite Indian Cultural program started with the Indian history of Yosemite at 1870s instead of prior to first contact and 1851. The Southern Sierra Miwuks wanted to use the Eadweard Muybridge photos as their proof of “Yosemite Miwoks” but as you can see on this page that their claims of Muybridge’s “Yosemite Miwoks” was really Yosemite PAIUTES.

Starting at 1870s instead of first contact we believe was probably suggested by Craig Bates and the Southern Sierra Miwuks, but the real story of Yosemite Valley’s Native people history started prior to 1851, but if it was really checked it then would’ve revealed the Paiutes of Yosemite as the original people and not the Southern Sierra Miwoks. Yosemite National Park states, even today, that they do not favor the Southern Sierra Miwuk American Indian Council of Mariposa, but why did the Park allow them to dicate when Yosemite Indian history in the Park was to officially start at 1870?

That is what happens when a non-profit group seeking federal recognition is in charge of Indian history. They just might have their own personal reason to make everything Southern Sierra Miwok.

Here is a interesting page written from a book by a University professor named George Harwood Phillips who studied the early history of Central California including Yosemite. The book is called Indians and Indian Agents; The Origins of the Reservation System in California , 1849-1852;


and from Chapter 3, page 37 it says this:


You see what I see.This author ACTUALLY READ LAFAYETTE H. BUNNELL’S BOOK. Chief Tenaya spoke Paiute, was born at Paiute Mono Lake. Tenaya created the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee. In other words if the official Yosemite Indian Cultural Program started in 1851 and prior it would all come up to PAIUTES and not Miwoks.

*note Phillips was still trying to find the “Yosemite Miwoks” and read into it the early account that the Tuolumne Indians were “probably” Tuolumne Mewuks, but in fact they were Paiutes from the upper Tuolumne who looked upfavorably at the Lower Tuolumne Indians. They even fought with them. Remember that the Mewuks of lower Tuolumne were already working with the whites BEFORE the whites entered Yosemite Valley. As you can see below:


* note also because of the control of the Southern Sierra Miwoks in the park they gave the false impression that the Southern Sierra Miwoks were a composite tribe of Miwoks, Paiutes and Yokuts, but in fact they were mainly different Paiute bands and Monos. The reason the Prof. Phillips says Yokuts is because of the Kaweahs. Many people thought the Kaweahs were Yokuts, but they were in fact Monos.

* note also Ahwahnee is in our Paiute creation stories as one of our old homelands that was destroyed and the Paiutes left the Ahwahnee or Owahnee and scattered to other Paiute areas. Miwoks COULD NEVER HAVE ENTERED a Paiute place because they would’ve been attacked and killed and not gladly welcome to come and live with them before 1870. That is a myth that a group of Miwoks went to live with war like Paiutes and lived in blissful peace, unless you are writing science fiction.

Maybe it is time to GO BACK and look at history PRIOR TO 1851 AND UP 1900 in Yosemite National Park and quit asking the American Indian Council of Mariposa, also quit relying on Craig Bates’ writings. Let’s look at the REAL history of Yosemite instead of helping the Southern Sierra Miwuks meet the seven point criteria for federal recogntion. That is not the job of Yosemite National Park Service. There job is to get the Indian history of Yosemite National Park correct not a service for its current and former Indian employees at the park.

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park. This slide show contains historical photos of Yosemite National Park and explains the Paiute language of this National Park. This segment includes the 1891 Petition to Congress asking for compensation for the stolen lands of Yosemite National Park. Congress threw this Petition in the trash and was never seen again until recently. The Petition was signed by the Yosemite Indians and the Mono Lake Paiutes. This segment documents the book called the First Discovery of Yosemite written by Lafayette Bunnell. Lafayette Bunnell documented the meeting of Paiute Chief Tenaya and his Paiute heritage. This segment documents the Owens Valley Paiute Creation Story which states Owahnee is a Paiute word in origin. In order to gain the full potential of this slide show, I would suggest you watch it in it numerical order.

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park.This slide show documents the name Tenaya and its Paiute meaning. This segment documents the Yosemite National Parks version of the Native American Indian History of the Park as Miwok, yet historical documents prove it is Paiute. The words Tisayac, Pohono, the Yosemite Pate Valley rock writings, the baskets, all denote Uto Aztecan Paiute. Included are the numbered series of Eadweard Muybridge which he titled specifically “The Paiute Chiefs Lodge.” Yet the Yosemite National Park Service has cropped off the Muybridge title of Paiute Chiefs Lodge Historical photo. Muybridge Historical photo of the “Bucks on a Log is really titled Paiute Bucks. Muybridge photographed the famous artist Albert Bierstadt painting the Paiutes in Yosemite.
Who ever is responsible the Indian History in Yosemite National Park is in error based on historical documents.

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park. This segment documents the Yosemite National Parks Service definition of Ahwahnee is the “Place of the Gaping Mouth,” which is false! Refer to the Paiute Language and you can see “Awaago is the word for gaping mouth.” Note the Yosemite National Park Service web site states First contact with the Yosemite Indians were Southern Sierra Miwok. This contradicts Lafayette Bunnels version of First Discovery of Yosemite which he stated Major James Savage could speak Miwok, but could not understand Chief Tenaya since Tenaya spoke a Pah Ute Jargon and created the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee. This segment documents the Yosemite National Park Service uses Ancestral Paiute photo and implies them as Miwoks. This segment documents Yosemite National Parks Indian recreated village dated 1870, yet its titled Miwok with Miwok language. Remember Eadweard Muybridge photographed the village and documented it as Paiute dated 1870.

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park. This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park. This segment documents Tom Hudgins original photo was documented as a “Mono Indian,” yet today in Yosemite National Park, Tom is documented as a Miwok. Yosemite National Park Service has falsely changed his Indian ancestry. “Why?” We document the Bill Family as full Blood Paiute, We document Maggie Tooboose as a Full blood Paiute,
Yet the Yosemite National Park Service seems to have its own agenda for promoting the Miwoks as the original Indians of Yosemite. Why is the National Park Service creating and promoting a mistruth to the public in our National Park?

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park and their connection to the Fitzwater 1962 sewer plant built on top of an ancient Paiute Cemetery. In 1962 Fitzwater excavated this area for a sewer plant for Yosemite National Park. Fitzwater excavated 23 full burial bundles and now there is no record or location of these Native American Remains. It seems the National Park Service has no location of the 23 full burial bundles and can not seem to locate them. However the Yosemite National Park Service has allowed the non profit Southern Sierra Miwoks to claim the Culturally Unidentified items from this excavation. The Inventory sheets of Native American Indian remains does state from the National Park Service Officials these remains and items could not be Miwok since they were deposited prior to the Miwoks arrival to the area

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park. The declaration of the Yosemite National Park Service relating to the 1962 El Portal Fitzwater Excavation of a sewer plant constructed over an ancient Uto Aztecan Paiute burial cemetery. In this declaration under oath the Yosemite National Park Service states the Native American Indian remains could not be Miwok.

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiute basket makers of Yosemite National Park. This segment documents the Paiute name for El Captain and Tisayac Half Dome and the Three Brothers.

This is a slide show documenting the Yosemite Mono Lake Paiutes of Yosemite National Park. Note all historical Paiutes.
Remember if the Uto Aztecan Paiutes arrived in the Great Basin area 10,000 years ago, that basin was an inland sea. if an Indian was to get around that sea, they would have used the Mountain passes you now call the John Muir trails. Remember Lee Vining Mono Lake is 14 miles from the gates of Yosemite National Park. Now if the Paiutes lived around Mono Lake, dont you think they were also in Pate Valley, Paiute Mountain, Paiute Pass, Yosemite Valley, El Portal, Hetch Hetchy, Mt Tom, Little Yosemite Sequoia Kings Canyon! Somethings wrong with the Indian historical facts as documented by Yosemite National Park!

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yosemite Protest – 2002

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mary Wilson (Yokut Indian woman,) Not Yosemite Miwok

Mary Wilson (Yokut Indian woman,) not Yosemite Miwok, as has been written; shown here wearing Mono – Paiute beaded collar in Plains attire.
One of the major “Yosemite Miwoks” that was supposed to be a leader amongst the Yosemite Indians was a woman by the name of Mary Wilson.

Craig Bates, the Yosemite National Park Indian ethnologist for over 30 years wrote that Mary Wilson was the daughter of a mythical Yosemite Miwok named Captain Jim. The reason I write “mythical” is because there is no proof that there was ever a Yosemite Miwok by that name. There was an article written about a Captain Jim that was a scout for an early white writer, but nothing after that.

There was a Captain Jim in and around Yosemite, but he was a full blooded Paiute. Craig Bates wrote in his book Tradition and Innovation that the Paiute Captain Jim, who had many children around Yosemite, was just some guy named “Pete Jim” and took away his title as the REAL Captain Jim.

Now back to Mary Wilson. She was the wife of Frank “Hooky” Wilson, a chief on the Merced Reservation, which was in the Merced County miles away from Yosemite. Frank “Hooky” Wilson said he was a “Chumhunchee” and not a Yosemite Indian. Once that was discovered that he was not a Yosemite Indian we believe Bates focused on Mary Wilson, the wife, as the “Yosemite Miwok”.

In the book by Craig Bates Tradition and Innovation he writes on page 189 about the ancestry of Mary Wilson “Her father was Captain Jim (or James), a Southern Miwok of the Uwahkachee group, and her mother was Hec-Ke-Pa.” and “…she was often referred to as a princess and a Captain,”. Also in the in her small bio he wrote this “Although Wilson wove baskets, little specific information about them is known…”

1. Mary Wilson, wife of Frank “Hooky” Wilson, was not the daughter of a fabled Miwok Captain Jim. Her father was a white man by the last name of Johnson. Her mother Hec-Ke-Pa had Mary before she was with Captain Jim. She was Mary Johnson, but took the last name of her step-father when she was growing up.

When checking Bates source for this information that Mary Wilson was the daughter of a Miwok named Captain Jim he had “Anonymous 1929”. So there was no way of checking what source Craig Bates acquired this faulty information. When we looked we did find one obituary with the mistaken information that Mary Wilson’s stepfather was her father. She was in fact 1/2 white.

So we wanted to see where this “Anonymous 1929” resources came from so we checked the the 1928-1929 California Indian applications and as we knew under her daughter’s applications was the truth. Mary Wilson was 1/2 white and the daughter of Hec-Ke-Pah. Under her own granddaughters 1928-1929 application she had testified that Hec-Ke-Pah was a Chuchansi Yokut and not a Southern Sierra Miwuk or Miwok. Thus not even a mythical Yosemite Miwok.

The granddaughter, that Mary raised, knew more information than any of the other family members because she wrote where they born, lived and what towns they moved around to. None were in Yosemite in early days. She also clarified that the “Chumhunchee” was really Chuchansi and branch of the great Yokut nation.

Mary (Johnson) Wilson was really a 1/2 Chuchansi, 1/2 white woman married to Frank Hooky Wilson. Frank “Hooky” Wilson was the son of a Chuchansi man and a Central Miwok woman. They were Merced Falls Reservation Indians. Merced Falls Reservation was in Merced County on the border of Mariposa County. They were not part of Chief Tenaya’s band of Ahwahnees, but signers of the Fremont Treaty. This is how they acquired that reservation. They were also the workers for James Savage and the other white settlers, farmers and miners.

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brian Bibby, California Indian Ethnologist, Gets It Right The First Time About Yosemite Indians

Brian Bibby is one of the most well known California Indian ethnologists in the state today. In the early 1990s Bibby worked with the California Native American Heritage Commission to create a book for the California Indian people as a guide to find tribal and family members photos, recordings and written text located in several museums. These books were constructed and created to assist Native Californians find their ancestors and tribal members in locating records in museums, special collections and other locations. The ancestors were named and labeled with their tribal identification to assist the tribe’s researchers.

As a tribal group we received these booklets from the California Native American Heritage Commission to assist us with our research. To our surprise in these booklets Brian Bibby mostly identified the same people we Yosemite – Mono Lake Paiutes had always known correctly. It appears Bibby early on came to the same conclusion that we already knew concerning the California Indian people around the Yosemite National Park region.

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Tom Hutchings – Not Miwok

Please Note:

All photos are under fair use for educational purposes as they come from public sources.


If you walk around Yosemite you might see this sign paid for by the Yosemite Fund located at the base of Yosemite Falls in the park.
Tom Hutchings, a native Miwok…hmm, oh really?

Craig Bates, the official Yosemite Park Indian ethnologist who was married to Miwok, also wrote that Tom Hutchings was a Southern Sierra Miwok in his book Tradition and Innovation published by the Yosemite Association.

The same Craig Bates who used to dress up as Miwok and dance at ceremonies and help create the Miwok village in Yosemite.

The problem is that if an objective person were to use their brain they would have realized that there were no Miwok men in Yosemite Valley in early times. Most “Miwok” women had married non-Indian men in the area and had left their people and tribal customs and ways behind.

At the same time when these signs were being made a few of the Indian employees at Yosemite National park were going for federal recognition and going for a big casino.

One problem…they needed Indian men to document a early tribe, sure they had Indian women, Indian women who married white men, but no Indian men. How can you have a tribe that was mostly made up of Indian women married to non-Indians? So this it what we believe they did…THEY “BORROWED” OUR MONO PAIUTE MEN to make it seem like they had Indian men in this so called ‘tribe’.

Since some of these people worked in the park we believe it was easy to bamboozle their fellow non-Indian employees and start changing Paiute men into Miwok men. Maybe hoping no one would notice before they got federally recognized and had a nice big casino outside of Yosemite National Park.

But, like all things some people do, it was the Mono Lake Paiute themselves who noticed that our men were being stolen for what we believe was someone elses agenda.

Of course Yosemite National Park denies this is happening even though we believe the truth is right in front of their face, because we believe that they are “good friends” with the Indian employees who are going for federal recognition. That is why we believe they should not go for federal recognition while they work or worked in Yosemite National Park, because historical information can be tainted…like we Paiutes believe happened in this case.

What Yosemite National Park is doing is ERASING the memory of the Paiute people in Yosemite in favor of a few of the current and former Indian employees so we believe they can misrepresent that our people were Miwoks for their own federal recognition. Meanwhile destroying our people from the history of Yosemite.


Then we found more proof online in the personal testimony of the children of James Hutchings, who Tom used to work for;

Here is the Yosemite Indian text written about MONO PAIUTE Tom Hutchings, who worked for James Hutchings. 

I have transcribed it so you can read what it says:

“…ley. He had come in over Bloody Canyon and across the Mono Desert, to marry  a Yosemite squaw. He married her but

he never left. He met Father and went to work for him. Never after would Tom do a lick of work for anybody else. He

worked up at the sawmill, and stayed on here for the rest of his life. Tom was a good, thoughtful Indian. When the

luscious wild strawberries came in, he made it a point to keep our table well supplied – at he did with other wild fruits

in season.
In time, Tom became Father’s shadow. Together they collected seeds and specimens of trees and plants that today are

flourishing in Kew Gardens in England. Tom also helped Father build the first trails, roads, bridges and dwellings in

this valley. Later, to make them safer, Father had to go to our Legislature to

get a $10,000 grant to do it.

I still love the Indians the outdoors, but horses were my favorite pastime. I grew up with them. We didn’t get far in

those days without horses. I could manage horses when others couldn’t. We kept them pastured down there in the


In the testimony of James Hutchings’ children they state that Tom (Hutchings) came from Bloody Canyon, the Mono Desert, which is a Paiute area.

So the proof is clear. Tom Hutchings was a Mono Lake Paiute Native American, not a Southern Sierra Miwuk as has been falsely written for what we Paiutes believe is for the benefit of a few. There has never been any proof likewise that Tom Hutchings was a Miwok.

If there is…show us.

Remember this person knew Tom Hutchings personally.

Changing the history of Yosemite National Park is wrong for a few and against the National Park Services’ motto of highest integrity.

Yosemite National Park, Give us back our people and stop stealing our Paiute men like Captain Sam, Bridgeport Tom, Captain John, Chief George Dick and his son Charlie Dick, Lancisco Wilson and his son, Captain Rueben, Bill, Young Charlie, Piute George, and of course Tom Hutchings…and the man himself, Chief Tenaya.

May 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Important People Of Yosemite’s History – Not Miwok

Please Note:

All photos are under fair use for educational purposes.
They come from public sources.

Captain John, who was also referred to as Shibana or Poko-Tucket (Horse Eater). He was given the title Captain John after his father, Old Captain John, abdicated his title.
The older Captain John was becoming very tired and when he gave up his title it was during the time when Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes were going through a difficult time. The influx of non-Indians had overwhelmed the Indians with diseases and harmful vices. So the younger Captain John led his people through one of the most harshest times in Yosemite-Mono Lake Indian history. It was reported that the young Captain John was the leader of the Mono Paiutes who threw the rock, killing Chief Tenaya for the their betrayal.

It was told that the young Capt. John was the one who threw the rock on Tenaya’s head, killing him for his betrayal of the Mono Paiutes.
The Monos were really upset and felt betrayed by Tenaya after they hid in out and took care of him that he repaid them with theft of their horses.
So they killed Tenaya and decimated his band, but if you were to ask the employees of Yosemite they never heard of him.
They had a small photo of him in the Yosemite library, but they didn’t have his name on it, but it did say he was a Yosemite Chief.
They didn’t have a clue who he was; it is the photo in James Hutchings book “In the Heart of the Sierras” which included a photo of Capt. John titled “Typical Yosemite Indian”.
I also have seen it titled “Yosemite Chief”. Yet they didn’t know that was MONO LAKE PAIUTE CHIEF CAPTAIN JOHN who spent half of his time in between Yosemite and Mono Lakes since it was both the realm of the Paiutes.
On the Yosemite National park service website they have Francisco Georgely who was a Chowchilla Yokut from Firebaugh as a Miwok Chief…DRESSED MIND YOU, LIKE A YOKUT. That would’ve been the first clue for those who know these things that he was not a Miwok.

Instead of his picture the Yosemite NPS should the photo of Capt. John.
Captain John – It was told that

Capt Sam
One of the other famous Captains was Captain Sam (Saya-Wega-Node). Captain Sam was married to Susie Sam. Captain Sam was a Paiute and his wife Susie was Paiute or Paiute/Washoe. They had several children. They spent 1/2 year in Yosemite and rest of the year at Mono Lake or Coleville.
Most of their children and grandchildren were some of the most famous basket weavers of Yosemite and their baskets are well known and well renowned. Captain Sam along with Captain Jim established the Bridgeport Paiute Colony and Coleville Indian Colony.
Later after the death of Susie in August of 1903, Captain Sam married Maggie John. Maggie was the wife of Long Valley John, but married Captain Sam after Long Valley John’s death. The Sams/Toms spent most of their time between Bishop, Coleville, Mono Lake and Yosemite.

Susie Sam
A long time ago a couple of the old people said that Susie was related to Old Rube who was Paiute/Washo.
Susie died in the summer of 1903. About 30 years later her husband Captain Sam died.
Captain Sam later had married Maggie John, the wife of Captain John.
Susie was a “Yosemite Indian”, but being a Yosemite Indian does not mean she was a Miwok. Because the Yosemite Indians were part of Chief Tenaya’s band. Remember that Chief Tenaya’s band was mainly made up of Paiutes.
Even like Tom Hutchings. His father was a Paiute from Mono Lake and his mother was a Paiute from Yosemite Valley. But they were still Paiutes. Bates ASSUMES that every Indian born in Yosemite or from Yosemite WAS A MIWOK, but as we know that is NOT true. Plus you have to go with the earliest governmental accounts and NOT by new accounts. Because new accounts can be tainted by the federal recognition process.
But if we go back to Lafayette Bunnell’s account Tenaya’s band was primarily PAIUTES.
The Digger part was most likely Washoe. Since a lot of their older family went back and forth to Coleville and other Washoe/Paiute areas. Washoes also had parties going around upper Mono Lake without Paiutes being aware.
Washoes also entered the Upper Tuolumne on Acorn and other food gathering forays. There are more intermarriages between Washoes and Paiutes,then Paiute and Miwok in olden days. Paiutes used to ‘capture’ girls and women from other neighboring tribes in raids and Paiutes were the dominate warrior society in the area. That is why Washoes used to tattoo their children so later on they might find and reunite with their ‘captured’ children by identifiable tattoos.
11-16-2014: Additional Information :Susie Sam who was Paiute with some “Digger” blood. Digger was broad based derogatory name given to all California Indians. That included Washo, Yokut, Miwok, Maidu and Paiute. Susie most likely had Washo blood because her family had Washo pine nut hill allotments.
Susie was mostly Paiute and in most of her government documentation. Susie Sam was Paiute or “Unknown Digger”. So a government employee would have to go with the known you would think.

Bridgeport Tom, a Piute Indian born near Bridgeport, California in 1860, had two wives; Louisa and Leanna who were sisters.
On this census it shows Bridgeport Tom and his family living at Mono Lake and under the Bishop agency as Paiutes.
They would enter Yosemite, like the majority of Indians, and work in the park. After the season they would return back to Mono Lake like Paiutes had done for eons.
The Mono Lake Paiutes, the original Native Americans of Yosemite, would enter Yosemite like they have before the whites had entered the area, until the U.S. government took control of Yosemite and turned it into a park.
Later the park service created an Indian village and many of the Toms went to live there year round, but they still held ties to Mono Lake, like Yosemite…their traditional home land.
Many of the elders of the Tom family stayed around Mono Lake and other Paiute areas until their deaths.
The family was one of most well known Paiute basket makers in the area, California and throught out the world.

Photo of Bridgeport Tom as a young man in Yosemite wearing traditional woven sash and tall moccasin boots.

Bridgeport Tom was one of the major patriarchal Indian leaders of Yosemite, Mono Lake, Bridgeport, Coleville and Bishop. He was also the patriarch of many of the descendents of the Kutzadika’a Mono Lake Paiutes.
Bridgeport Tom relates a story of Chief Towa and leader of Paiutes who lived around Dobie Meadows, Mono Lake and Upper Tuolumne. This story is from the Yosemite National Park’s research library.

Chief Towa, a young Paiute Indian lived with his wife in Dobie Meadows, Mono County. He made his home there and had come to Mono Lake for his friend (Teseauk), a young Indian brave. From Mono Lake they continued on their journey to Yosemite Valley (Pame) on what they considered a very important business.

Every year (Towa) had been a guest of Chief (Tenaya’s) at the annual deer festivity held in the Yosemite Valley (Pame). He was not only a chief but, also, a great Indian orator. For this reason he was an important person at gatherings.
With enough provisions they were quite sure of a safe trip over the mountains. They were quite sure of a safe trip over the mountains. They made a short stop at Soda Springs where the ground hogs (keta) were plentiful.
Chief (Towa) directed (Teseauk) and the rest of the expedition to make camp at Lake Tenaya where he would meet them at night fall. His plans were to cross over the mountains through the old trail and hunt as he traveled.
It was nearing the time for him to arrive at the camp, but Chief (Towa) did not arrive. (Teseauk) was quite worried and he started out on the trail to meet (Towa). He walked several miles through the dense, thick forest with his bow and arrow as his only protection. As he came to a hill at the mouth of the valley, he heard a human cry, a cry which Teseauk knew came from the Chief’s own mouth. He knew that he was in distress. He immediately hurried to the most awful scene. (Towa) had been in the vicinity of a grizzly bear. He was physically distorted, his clothes torn into shreds. However, he was able to relate his tragic experience to (Teseauk).
(Teseauk) tried to help him in everyway, but he was beyond repair. He died in the arms of (Teseauk) shortly after he had found him. His final message to his people was to be delivered by (Teseauk) at (Pame).
In the meantime (Teseauk) notified his friends and relatives and the funeral was held by the shores of the Tenaya Lake. (Teseauk) delivered the following message at the deer feast before many of his people. As they burned his belongings, this is usual Paiute custom in the early days, (Teseauk) said, “Bears are very dangerous creatures, whenever, in the wilds always be prepared to go into the mountains with at least half a dozen arrows because in this experience he learned that one or two arrows was not enough to kill a bear. His message to his people has always been remembered. An Indian would say to his fellow tribesman, “Let Chief (Towa’s) experience be your guide.”

Please Note:

Pame is Paiute for Meadow
Towa had his own band.
Numa is the name for the Paiute people.
Nume is the Mono Paiute name for band or group of people.
Put Towa and Nume together = Towa’nume.
What is the river that runs through Hetch Hetchy called? Tuolumne.

May 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Legends of the Yosemite Miwoks


Yosemite’s most distinctive monument, Half Dome, dominates most Valley views. Standing at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome rises to an elevation of 8,842 feet. At 87 million years old, the type of granite making up the dome is the youngest plutonic rock in the Valley. (Plutonic rock is formed beneath the earth’s surface by intense heat, pressure and slow cooling.)
The remaining portions of granite on Half Dome’s face are believed to have sheered off during its cooling phase 100 million years ago, deep under the Pacific seabed. Succeeding glaciers deposited some of the debris in moraines along the Valley floor.

If you ever read the book “Legends of the Yosemite Miwoks”, you might come across the legend of Tissayack, the legend of Yosemite’s beautiful Half Dome.
The book was done by the Yosemite Association. In the “Legends of the Yosemite Miwok” written by Yosemite National Park Indian Ethnologist Craig Bates and others you will read a ‘sanitized’ version of Tissayack. I write sanitized because in his book Craig D. Bates stripped all references of the original Yosemite Indian people. There are no Paiutes mentioned in the legend of Half Dome in his story.

Bates, who at the time of his early employment at Yosemite National Park was married to a Mewuk woman and we believe wanted to convey that Yosemite was a Miwok homeland, but that is not true to many Paiutes. Bates is also not a Native American.
What we Paiutes are going to do is relay the real story of the legend of Half Dome, and reveal the real meaning of Tissayack, something the Miwoks could not figure out what it meant. If they did they would have mentioned it before. This is because Tissayack is not a word found in the Miwok language.

Here is the Legend of Tissayack, the legend of Half Dome and what was left out by Craig D. Bates:

Many, many generations ago, long before the Creator had completed the fashioning of the magnificent cliffs in the Valley of Ahwahnee, there dwelt in the arid desert around Mono Lake an Indian couple. Learning from other Indians of the beautiful and fertile Valley of Ahwahnee, they decided to go there and make it their dwelling place. They began their journey into the Sierra Nevada towards Yosemite Valley, he carrying deer skins, and she holding a baby cradle in her arms and carrying a (wono) basket on her back. When the couple reached the site of present-day Mirror Lake, they began to quarrel. She wanted to go back to Mono Lake, but he refused, saying that no oaks or other trees grew there. He would not listen to her when she said she would plant seeds.

In despair, the girl began to cry and ran back toward the Paiute homeland of Mono Lake. Her husband grew angry and ran after her. To escape she threw the wono basket at him and it became Basket Dome. She continued running and threw the baby cradle at her husband. Today, we experience it as the Royal Arches. Because they had brought anger into Yosemite, the Creator became upset at the couple. The Creator in his anger turned the two into stone. He became North Dome and she became what we know as Half Dome. The Mono Lake Paiute girl regretted the quarrel and the rock wall she became, Half Dome, began to cry, thus forming Mirror Lake.

Today, you can still see the marks of those tears as they run down her face. And if you look very carefully at Half Dome, you can see it is fashioned after the way the Mono tribe looked, hair bobbed and cut in bangs. Her rock face stained with tears facing eastward towards their ancient homeland of Mono Lake.

In olden times the first white explorers called her South Dome, later Half Dome, but in Paiute she is known as T’ssiyakka or the English pronunciation Tissayack.

For decades many white historians have scratched their heads to the meaning of Half Dome’s Tissayack. Mistakenly they kept asking Mariposa Indians, also known as Miwoks, believing them to be the original Yosemite Indians and tellers of the legend, but if they had asked Paiutes at Mono Lake they would have translated it for them.

T’ssiyakka means “crying girl” or in Paiute “girl-cry”, which fits the legend of Half Dome and not the “Legends of the Yosemite Miwoks” of the girl turned to stone with tears running down her face. T’sia is girl and Yakka or yaga is cry in Paiute.

There are several variations of the legend of Half Dome and all but one does not mention Tissayack as a Mono Paiute. Interestingly Yosemite’s Craig Bates chose the one that did not mention the Mono Paiute maiden. As usual the Yosemite National Park Service does not believe anything the Indian people say, but instead they would rather rely on the “stories” of Craig D. Bates. The Park says that if is not written down or documented that we are just making that up. But Paiutes of the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada can prove what we are saying and even show that the Park was the one who supplied the answer.

1909804_111933571098_6573197_n  In 1997, Yosemite National Park Service and the Yosemite Fund paid another California Indian ethnologist named Brian Bibby, who knows Bates quite well, to interview elders who were descendent to the original Indians of Yosemite.
The Park was looking for Miwok history and what they got was actually Paiute Yosemite Indian history. One of Bibby’s informants was Gene Watts who’s great-grandmother was Leanna Tom, a Mono Lake Paiute married to Mono Lake Paiute Bridgeport Tom. (See Photo) Leanna Tom was an important basket maker and matriarch of those now claiming to be Southern Sierra Miwuks. Gene Watts told Brian Bibby that his great-grandmother, Leanna Tom, only spoke to him in Paiute and not Miwok.
Watts stated in the official Yosemite Oral History project, January 22nd 1997, that he recalled his great-grandmother calling Half Dome the Paiute name of Tassiyakka. This information is located at Yosemite National Park.

T’sia is girl and Yakka or yagga is cry in Paiute, or “Crying Girl”.

Even in the Legend of Half Dome in Yosemite Indians; Yesterday and Today (1941) by Elizabeth H. Godfrey, that Bates copied for his book “Legends of the Yosemite Miwok”, the Indian couple came from “the arid plains” and that they were entering Yosemite from the eastern side. Here is why. Mirror Lake, in the Half Dome legend, is on the route between Mono Lake and Yosemite Valley. If the couple was coming from the west or Mariposa they would have reached Yosemite Valley first before they were by Mirror Lake, because Mirror Lake is located on the far eastern side of the Valley.

Plus it was documented in the book “The Discovery of Yosemite” by Lafayette H. Bunnell, that Miwoks were afraid to enter Yosemite Valley when James Savage questioned his ally Chief Bautista, leader of the Southern Sierra Miwuk. They did not enter Yosemite Valley until they came in with James Savage, the leader of the Mariposa Battalion.

The legend of Half Dome had been ‘counterfeited’ by the Miwok workers of the military which came in and occupied Yosemite after the Paiutes. Here is what Bunnell wrote in his book, The Discovery of the Yosemite, about that:

“The names of the different objects and localities of especial interest have now become well established by use. It is not a matter of so much surprise that there is such a difference in the orthography of the names. I only wonder that they have been retained in a condition to be recognized. It is not altogether the fault of the interpreters that discrepancies exist in interpretation or pronunciation, although both are often undesignedly warped to conform to the ideality of the interpreter. Many of the names have been modernized and adorned with transparencies in order to illuminate the subject of which the parties were writing. Those who once inhabited this region (The Ahwahnees), and gave distinctive appellations, have all disappeared. The names given by them can be but indifferently preserved or counterfeited by their camp followers, the “California Diggers (Miwoks)”.1909804_111933576098_2839983_n

So the Legend of Half Dome, the story of Tissayack, is a legend directly tied to the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute people, and not the group on the western side of the Sierra Nevada as has been falsely written in books created by employees of Yosemite National Park.

In an interesting side note when a friend posted the original legend of Tissayack on his blog an employee of Yosemite National Park said that we Paiutes were lying and trying to interject our families into the history of Yosemite. But unknown to him Leanna Tom is one of the main matriarchs of the non-profit group they support. Gene Watts is their relative, not ours. So is the Park calling their ancestors and matriarch liars?

May 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment