Yosemite Valley Plan, A Threat To Indian Culture

Cultural Genocide

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


  1. Many of the Southern Sierra Miwuk’s Chukchansi, Chowchilla, Awalinches, and Gashowu (Casson) Yokuts members and Mono Lake Paiutes are now written as Miwoks for federal recognition. They are the descendents of the same people that Brian Bibby identified correctly early on.

    Interestingly later Brian Bibby was hired by Yosemite National Park Service a couple years after he complied these booklets to do interviews of the Southern Sierra Miwuk. But in those interviews Bibby writes the descendents differently to match the Miwuk myth.

    Comment by jrhoan | May 10, 2015 | Reply

  2. Also: 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.

    Comment by jrhoan | May 10, 2015 | Reply

    • I am writing a book on Central California basketry circa 1900 to 1940. I am looking for descendants of the weavers of that time, such as Leanna Tom. I would like to get a hold of Gene Watts, if you have any contact information, to include his comments about Leanna and any other weavers of whom he might have some personal information.
      Can you contact him and ask him to mail me at Gene.Meieran@att.net? I am particularly interested in weavers from Mono Lake Paiute, Washoe, Yokuts, Cahuilla, Pomo.

      Many thanks.
      Gene Meieran

      Comment by Gene Meieran | November 20, 2016 | Reply

      • Hello,
        Nice to meet you..
        In regards to Gene Watts, he passed away several days ago he will be truly missed. Sounds like you have an interesting book in the soup.

        Comment by jrhoan | November 21, 2016

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