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- Lest We Forget
December 28, 1874
A Visit to the Lava Beds --The Spot where
Gen. Canby Fell -- Sad Relics of the War!
By John Muir, Special Correspondent,
San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin
ALTURAS (California) --
The Lava Beds, rendered famous by the Modoc War, lie
on the southern shore of Rhett or Tule Lake, at an
elevation above sea-level of about 4,500 feet.
They are a portion of an ancient flood of dense
black lava, dipping north-eastward at a low angle. They are about
as destitute of soil as a glacial pavement, and though the surface
is generally level, it is dotted with hillocks and rough crater-like
pits and traversed in every direction by a net-work of yawning fissures,
forming a combination of topographical conditions of a very rare
and striking character.
While hunting the wild sheep around Mount
Bremer, our camp was enlivened with visits from the hunters
and trappers, and roving vaqueros of the region.
Some of these were as nomadic as Modocs,
and had fought in the lava beds, and because the events of the war
were still fresh in their minds we were presented with many lively
scraps of history and picturesque sketches of the character and
personal appearance of Captain Jack, Boston Charley,
and Black Jim, most of which had the strangely crevassed
and caverned Lava Beds for a background.
Our whole party became so eagerly interested
that a visit to the war grounds was at once planned, with the eldest
Van Bremer, who had fought the Modocs, and was familiar with the
whole region, as guide.
Our route lay down the Bremer meadows,
past many a smooth grassy knoll and jutting cliff, and along the
shore of Lower Klamath Lake, thence across a few rough, gray
miles of sage plain, making a journey some six or seven hours in
We got into camp in the middle of the afternoon,
on top of a lava bluff 450 feet high. Toward sunset I sauntered
down to the edge of the bluff, which commands a fine map-like view
both of the lava beds and the picturesque region adjacent
to them. Here you are looking south-eastward, and the grand Modoc
landscape, which at once fills and takes possession of you, lies
revealed in front. It is composed of three principal parts. There
on your left lies a calm lake; on your right a calm forest, and
the black lava beds in the middle.
The lake is fairly blooming in purple light,
and is so responsive to the sky, both in calmness and color, that
it seems itself a sky. No mountain shores hide its loveliness. It
lies wide open for many a mile, vailed in no other mystery than
the mystery of light. The forest also is flooded with sun-purple,
and white Shasta rises above it, rejoicing in the ineffable beauty
of the alpen glow.
But neither the glorified woods on the one hand,
nor the lake on the other, can at first hold the eye; it is that
dark, mysterious lava-plain between them. Here you trace yawning
fissures, there clusters of sombre pits; now you mark where the
lava is bent and corrugated into swelling ridges--here again where
it breaks in a foam of bowlders. Tufts of grass grow here and there,
and bushes of the hardy sage, but they have a singed appearance
and do not hide the blackness.
Deserts are charming, all kinds of bogs,
barrens, and heathy moors, but the Modoc lava beds have an uncanny
look, that only an eager desire to learn their geology could overcome.
The sun-purple slowly deepened over all the landscape, then darkness
fell like a death, and I crept back to the blaze of the camp-fire.
Next morning the Modoc plains and
mountains were born again, and Van Bremer led us down the bluff.
Just at the foot you come to a square, enclosed by a rough stone
It is a graveyard, where some thirty soldiers
lie, most of whom met their fate on the 26th of April, surprised
by the Modocs while eating lunch, scattered in the lava beds,
and shot down like bewildered sheep.
Picking our way over the strange ridges
and hollows of the "beds," we come, in a few minutes, to a circular
flat a score of yards or so in diameter, where the comparative smoothness
of the lava and a few handfuls of soil have caused the grass tufts
to grow taller.
This is where General Canby met his fate.
From here our guide led us around the shore of the lake to the main
Modoc stronghold, a distance of about two and a half miles.
The true strongholds of Indians are chiefly fields of tall
grass, brushy woods, and shadowy swamps, where they can crouch like
panthers and make themselves invisible, but the Modoc castle
is in the rock.
When the Yosemite Indians made raids
upon the early settlers of the lower Merced they withdrew with their
spoils into Yosemite valley, and the Modocs are said
to have boasted that in case of war they possessed a stone house
into which no white man could come.
Notwithstanding the height and sheerness
of Yosemite walls, the Indians were unable to hold it against
the soldiers for a single day, but the Modoc castle was held
defiantly for months.
It consists of numerous redoubts, formed
by the unequal subsidence of portions of the lava flow, and of a
complicated network of redans abundantly supplied with salient and
re-entering angles, and these redans are united with one another
and with the redoubts by a labyrinth of open and covered corridors,
some of which expand at intervals into spacious caves, forming altogether
the strongest and most complete natural Gibraltar I ever
Other lava castles, scarcely less strong,
are connected with this by subterranean passages known only to the
Indians. While the unnatural blackness of the rock out of which
nature has constructed these defenses and the weird inhuman physiognomy
of the whole region are well calculated to inspire terror of themselves.
Before coming to the battle-ground we frequently
hear it remarked that our soldiers merited the fate that befel them."They
were unplucky," "too incautious," "too drunk," etc. But here we
could only pity the poor fellows called to so deadly a task.
In the capture of this Modoc castle
there was no scope for what is known as "brilliancy and knightliness."
The strategy of a Von Moltke, or impetuous valor of a Hotspur were
alike inapplicable, nor was it possible to achieve here any of that
class of bulky victories styled "glorious" which fill newspapers
and are followed in due course of time by clerical hallelujahs.
On the contrary it was all cat-crouching
and gliding--every soldier for himself--while the flinty jaggedness
of the ground was such that individual soldiers could scarce keep
themselves together as units; one limb straddled here, another there;
and while thus sprawling to the assault, unseen rifles were leveled
upon them with deadly aim. On the other hand, the Modocs
were at home.
They had hunted the wild sheep and the
bear in these lava beds; now they were hunting men in the very same
way. Their guns were thrust through chinks while they lay safely
concealed. If they wished to peer above their breast-works they
tied bunches of sage-brush around their heads.
They were familiar with by-ways both over
and under ground, and could at any time sink out of sight like squirrels
among bowlders. Our bewildered soldiers heard and felt them shooting,
now before them, now behind them, as they glided from place to place
along fissures and subterranean passes, all the while maintaining
a more perfect invisibility than that of modern ghosts. Modocs,
like most other Indians, are about as unknightly as possible.
The quantity of the moral sentiment developed
in them seems infinitely small, and though in battle they appear
incapable of feeling any distinction between men and beasts, even
their savageness lacks fullness and cordiality.
The few that have come under my own observation
had something repellant in their aspects, even when their features
were in sunshine and settled in the calm of peace; when, therefore,
they were crawling stealthily in these gloomy caves, in and out
on all fours, unkempt and begrimed, and with the glare of war in
their eyes, they must have looked very devilish.
Our guide led us through the mazes of the
castle, pointing out its complicated lines of redoubts and redans,
and our astonishment at the wild strength of the place was augmented
at every turn.
Captain Jack's cave is one of the
many sombre mansions of the castle. It measures about 25 or 30 feet
in diameter at the opening, and extends but a short distance in
a horizontal direction. The floor is littered with bones and horns
of the animals slaughtered for food during the war--a good specimen
of a human home of the Stone Age.
The sun shines freely into its mouth, and
graceful bunches of grasses and eriognae and sage grow around it,
redeeming it from all its degrading associations, and making it
lovable notwithstanding its unfinished roughness and blackness.
One of our party was a relic-seeker and we were unremitting in our
endeavors to satisfy his cravings.
Captain Jack's drinking-cup, fragments
of his clothing, buttons, etc., were freely offered, but only gold
watches or pistols said to have been plundered from the dead and
hidden in some of these endless caves were sufficiently curious
for his refined tastes. The lava beds are replete with phenomena
of great geological interest.
Here are true fissures from a few inches
to 8 or 10 feet in width, abrupt and sheer-walled as the crevasses
of glaciers, and extending continuously for miles. Miniature hills
and dales also and lake basins and mountain ranges, whose formation
is due neither to direct upheaval nor to erosion.
Where the lava meets the lake there are
some fine curving bays beautifully embroidered with rushes and polygonums,
a favorite resort of waterfowl.
Riding homeward we created a noisy plashing
and beating of wings among the cranges and geese, but the ducks
were more trustful and kept their places, merely swimming in and
out through openings in the rushes, and rippling the glassy water
on which the sun was beaming.
The countenance of the lava beds became
beautiful. Tufts of pale grasses, relieved on the jet-rocks, looked
like bouquets on a mantel; besides, gray and orange lichens, cushions
of green mosses appeared, and one tuft of tiny rock-fern. Bountiful
Nature gives all this "beauty for ashes" in this sombre region
of volcanic fire.
[Editor's Note: The
Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, CA) began with scattered
issues in 1855 and runs into May 1895. In May 1895, this paper changed
its name to The Bulletin and the run continues under that
name until 19 Sep 1928. On 20 Sep 1928, another name change occurred;
the paper's name becoming the San Francisco Bulletin by which
name it continued until 28 Aug 1929. On 29 Aug 1929, the San
Francisco Bulletin merged with the San Francisco Call & Post
and became the Call Bulletin by which name it continued until
Aug 1959. Another San Francisco paper, San Francisco Journal
of Commerce [Sep 1920 - Jun 1924] merged with the Bulletin
in Jun 1924. The Journal had been know as the Daily Journal
of Commerce from Jan 1872 into Sep 1920.]
September 10, 2001
The Truth About
Indian Removal and
the Making of National Park Policy
By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D
Yosemite News & Nature Notes Publisher Since 1959
YOSEMITE VALLEY -- Indians
and the American National Park "Wilderness" have been an important
area of historical exploration for National Park visitors and writers
of Park history.
Ironically, the early day landscape artist,
George Catlin, in 1833 depicted a "wilderness park" where tourists
could come and see the Indian "...In his classic attire, galloping
his horse ... amid the fleeting herds of elks and buffaloes."
Catlin's artistic vision of the "shared"
wilderness for Indians, Nature, and European settlers was not to
be. Probably because of the fierce Indian wars in the Southwest
and the Mexican War that preceded the changing American idea of
wealth and private property which made possible westward expansion
and destruction of the wilderness. For example the Indian removal
from Yellowstone National Park in 1872 is an example of the ultimate
cultural conflict intensified by the National Park Service as removing
the Native American Indian population in order to 'preserve' nature!
Beginning in the late 1870s, the National Park
Service officials began to act on the belief that the presence of
Indians in the parks frightened tourists and depleted hunting by
Indian practices such as use of fire and destruction of wild game.
One such case is well documented. The Blackfeet
Indians used the Montana mountains and prairie for gathering lodge
poles for their houses and to fence in wild horses. They hunted
game, and gathered plants important for food and spiritual ceremonies.
But, there was famine in 1895 and the Blackfeet were persuaded to
sell their homeland to the United States government. In the fine
print of the agreement, the Blackfeet were to receive $1.5 million
is U.S. Coin in exchange for tribal members giving up their absolute
right to the land, which they could use for fishing, hunting, and
timber collection "...as long as the wind blows, the grass
grows, and the sky is blue...".
Unfortunately, only a decade later, in 1910,
the Blackfeet ancestral homeland became a major portion of what
would be called, "Glacier National Park."
In violation of the terms of the 1895 agreement,
National Park Service officials prevented the Blackfeet from free
access to the land and prohibited their use the natural resources,
The Blackfeet Nation then took the National
Park Service into the U.S. Court of Claims, and the U.S. District
Court in Montana. What followed was the enactment by the U.S.Congress
of The Indian Reorganization Act. [U.S. Code, Sec. 461.]
It provided for the allotment of land on Indian reservations. By
June 18, 1934, however, no more land of any Indian reservation,
created or set apart by treaty or agreement with the Indians, Act
of Congress, Executive order, purchase, or otherwise, could be allotted
to any Indian.
This is the administrative and cultural nightmare
that preceded the expulsion of the Awahneechee Tribe from Yosemite
Valley in 1851 by a local Mariposa posse.
No doubt, the Ahwahneeche's felt just as
the Blackfeet, as the Ahwahneechee customs held that the Creator
had given the Valley to them to protect from the beginning of the
In time, however the Awahneechee tribe were
force to seek their livelihood not from the bounty of Yosemite's
wilderness, bur from a new kind of survival derived from tourist
gratuities in hotels lobbies or fees paid for service as trail guides,
or earnings from sales of blackberries, fresh trout, and baskets
They also performed tribal rituals at "Yosemite
Indian Field Days," an annual display of the Miwok Material
Culture. During these presentations, tribal members would humiliate
themselves before appreciative audiences and to please Yosemite
National Park Service officials who were only aiming for increased
Note: An interesting an authoritative account of dispossessing of
Native American Indians from their home lands by the U.S. Government,
and the significant role played by The National Park Service, please
see the excellent book, "Dispossessing
the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks"
by Mark David Spence, published by : Oxford University Press,
1999. 200 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliographic references, and
index. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-19-511882-0]
May 8, 1968
A Yosemite Miwok Heritage
Lost to Disease in 1800
Never Fully Regained
Researched By The Yosemite
-- Ahwahnee, Mariposa County, located on 10 acres of unsectioned
land in Yosemite Valley, is one-half mile west of Yosemite Village.
The westbound section of the valley loop off Highway 140 borders
it on the north. The site is fairly flat, carpeted with grass and
pine needles, and parkland woods border it to the south and east.
Vegetation in the area consists of mixed conifers, an abundance
of oak trees, and manzanita.
A number of coarse granite outcroppings
in the area contain cupules or grinding holes, which are circular
depressions formed by grinding or pecking with a stone pestle over
a long period of time. Also on the site are the razed remnants of
15 cabins, built by the National Park Service in 1930 to house Yosemite
Indians who had never vacated the valley. Indians first entered
the Yosemite region more than 4,000 years ago.
They were the ancestors of the present-day
Miwok people , who established themselves in permanent villages
along the Merced River as far east as the Yosemite Valley.
They called the valley "Ahwahnee," which,
it is said, means "deep grassy valley." These native people were
a small part of the Interior California Miwoks, which included,
in ancient times, about 9,000 people who were closely related in
language and culture.
They lived in the western foothills and
lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada, and their lives revolved around
hunting, gathering, and fishing. They traveled to the high country
each spring and summer to follow deer herds and to trade with Mono
Lake Paiutes from the east side of the Sierra, returning in
the fall to their homes in the lower elevations.
"A fatal black sickness" swept through
The Yosemite Miwok people. This is thought to have been a from of
pneumonic plague most often transmitted from species of squirrels.
The last occurrence of transmissions from squirrels and rats to
people, or people to people in the United States occurred in 1924
in in Los Angeles. In that epidemic there were 32 cases of pneumonic
plague with 31 fatalities.
Since then there have been around 16 cases
a year in the United States, most connected with rock squirrels
and its common flea Oropsylla montana. The illness forced
the the Miwok tribe to leave their villages in about 1800. Survivors
of the sickness affiliated themselves with neighboring tribes, leaving
Yosemite Valley uninhabited for many years. As a child, Chief Tenaya
heard stories about the deep, grassy valley that had once
been his people's home, and he decided to return there with his
By 1833, Tenaya was back in the valley
living peacefully with his people. In 1850, non-Indian gold seekers
began to come into Yosemite, followed by cattle ranchers who moved
into the area around Mariposa. The intruders upset the balance of
the Indians' subsistence pattern. Tenaya's tribe came to be known
as "Yosemites," a corruption of "Uzumati," [yozmite] which
means grizzly bear, probably called such after the bear clan of
Tenaya's Ahwahneechees. In January 1851, the Mariposa Battalion
organized in an attempt to subdue Tenaya's people and bring them
to reservations in the Fresno area. After a surprise attack and
the capture of an Indian rancheria on the South Fork of the Merced
River, Chief Tenaya received a messenger who carried a demand that
he sign a treaty, quitclaim the Yosemite lands, and leave for the
reservation on the Fresno River.
Tenaya refused and was told that his entire
tribe would be killed. He finally agreed to bring his people into
custody, but when the battalion found only 72 Yosemites, most of
whom were women and children, they became suspicious and traveled
into the valley, a place the army had not yet seen.
Once the battalion arrived in the valley, they
were awestruck and astonished by its overpowering beauty. Tenaya
was a prisoner in his own land more than once, but he and his followers
were never totally subdued, and they never signed a treaty.
After an appeal, Tenaya returned to Yosemite
and died there, a free man. Tenaya's descendants received allotments
for the acreage of the village site, and by 1930, they were living
in 15 cabins provided for them by the National Park Service.
When the park service decided to expand the Sunnyside
Campground, the villagers had to move to other quarters. In
the 1960's the Ahwahneecheeswere still carying on their traditional
ceremonies, dances, and food collecting. Women were collecting and
grinding acorns, and making willow and sedge baskets. Mrs. Julia
Parker, a Pomo Indian who married a Yosemite Miwok, says that the
village is the people's link to the old life.
In the last decade Native Californian cultures
have been somewhat restored in NPS recognition. The recent revitalization
of these cultures has generated an intensive search for any and
all records of earlier times. Native people are now the most interested
and dedicated users of these ethnographic collections.
Alfred Kroeber's photographs have been
given a relevance and active use that would probably have surprised
but not displeased him.Although Kroeber is universally regarded
as the founder of California Indian Studies, his important
use of the camera as an ethnographic tool is virtually unknown.
In fact, Kroeber was one of the first anthropologists to photograph
California Native peoples.
California has never attracted as many
photographers as other regions of Native America, such as the Southwest.
Most likely, this was due to the rapid depopulation and massive
acculturation. By the time of Kroeber's fieldwork at the turn of
the century, there were comparatively few Native people left in
the state, and from a naive, "Anglo" perspective, they
did not look particularly Native.
Most of the earliest surviving photographs of
the California Indian are by a handful of professional photographers.
In the fall of 1892, Henry W. Henshaw photographed the Pomo living
near Ukiah for the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology.
With these pictures, Henshaw became probably
the first California Indian photographer who made his living as
an anthropologist -although his training had been in biology. Several
years later, Roland Dixon, a Harvard graduate student working for
the American Museum of Natural History, began to photograph the
Maidu in 1899.
About the same time, Pliny Goddard, a Quaker
missionary among the Hupa, was also taking pictures, which he later
published as an anthropologist at the University of California.
Finally, in 1901, just before Kroeber joined the University, Dr.
Philip M. Jones took a series of Californian Indian pictures
for Phoebe Hearst, the founder of the University's Museum of Anthropology.
When Alfred Kroeber first arrived in California
in the summer of 1900, he was still in the middle of research for
the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Born
in 1876, Kroeber had grown up in Manhattan and attended Columbia
University. While a graduate student in the late 1890s, he came
under the influence of Franz Boas, who initiated him into anthropology.
During the summers of 1899, 1900, and 1901, Kroeber made three collecting
trips to the Arapaho and other Plains tribes, sponsored by the American
Museum. We know that he used a camera on these expeditions, but
the photos do not seem to have survived.
In August 1900, Kroeber was appointed Curator
of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences in San
Francisco. After six weeks spent reviewing the collections, Kroeber
set out on a collecting trip, first to the north and the Yurok,
Hupa, Karuk around the Klamath River and then south to the Mohave.
As the Academy could not afford to pay for collections, which were
usually donated, he left by Christmas.
In late spring of the following year, Kroeber
was offered a position in the new museum and department of Anthropology
at the University of California, then being formed under the patronage
of Phoebe Apperson Hearst. At its inception, the program's mission
was collecting and research; teaching was to be postponed. At the
museum, Kroeber began with an unspecified curatorial position and
was officially appointed curator in 1908; he became the Museum's
director in 1925. 8 His initial academic position was that of instructor
(1901-06), although he did not start teaching until spring of 1902.
9 Gradually, teaching occupied more of his time.
Alfred Kroeber was overwhelmingly a literary
person. He had been an English major in college, taking a master's
in the subject in 1897. Accordingly, as an ethnographer his preferred
subjects were language and myth, his preferred medium, pencil and
notebook. Working, however, in an embracive, Boasian framework,
Kroeber made use of mechanical recording devices--cameras and especially
phonographs--to document Native life.
Kroeber included texts (primarily in Native
languages), ethnographic observations, sound recordings, artifacts,
as well as photographs. All were discrete objects in some way, and
all could ultimately be preserved in a museum or archives.
Commenting on Kroeber's fieldwork methodology,
historian Timothy Thoresen has noted that, "A trip that began
with a search for baskets among the Yurok, for example, might well
result also in notebooks full of lists of names for Yurok habitation
sites with estimated population, information on house types, statements
of both reported and observed practices, and several myths with
comments on the informants."
For Kroeber, however, the visual world
of photographs and artifacts was secondary to the verbal realm of
linguistic notes and texts (folklore), and an examination of his
field work activity reveals that he spent relatively little time
in artifact collecting, and even less in photography.
Kroeber spent much of the first decade
of his career in intensive fieldwork among the Indians of California.
Though broad, this research was essentially shallow, at least during
these early years. Confronted by the enormous cultural, social,
and linguistic diversity of Native California, Kroeber's response
was survey and mapping. As he noted to Boas in 1903, "virtually
all of my field work has been essentially comparative." 15
In that year, this on-going work was formally institutionalized
as the archaeological and Ethnological Survey of California, with
the financial support of Phoebe Hearst. 16
Kroeber's dedication to survey explains
the great diversity of Native groups that he recorded in just a
few short years, and it may have discouraged him from focusing on
the minute and concrete aspects of culture best captured by the
camera.Ultimately, in fact, photography could not answer the ethnological
questions that Kroeber asked. His research was dedicated to the
reconstruction of a Native past that no longer existed.
As he explained in the preface to his summarizing
Handbook of the Indians of California, his mission was to
"reconstruct and present the scheme within which these native
people in ancient and more recent times lived their lives. It is
concerned with their civilization --at all events the appearance
they presented on discovery, and whenever possible an unraveling,
from such indications as analysis and comparison now and then afford,
of the changes and growth of their culture."
As most of Kroeber's fieldwork,
especially of Californian peoples, was sponsored by the University
of California, it is not surprising that all of his surviving original
photographs are in the collections of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology,
at the Berkeley campus.
Kroeber took many pictures of scenery
in Native territory, especially in the Klamath River area. Most
of Kroeber's photographs of people were taken on his 1907 physical
While many are indeed the kinds of head
shots, posed in linked frontal and profile pairs, that would be
suitable for such a survey, many are of groups of children, whole
figures shot from a distance, which would be of little use for any
Generally, people are dressed in their
everyday, western attire; a few wear ceremonial regalia. Kroeber
made no effort to photograph them in their ceremonial or traditional
clothes. Many of the people Kroeber photographed were related; in
separate shots he recorded generations of grandparents, parents,
At least on his 1907 survey, his photography
was actually quite comprehensive; he was able to take pictures of
93 Hupa people (21 men, 14 women, and 58 children) out of a total
population of 420.
The photographs of Ishi are the largest body
of Kroeber's portraits. He shared the photographic duties on the
1914 expedition with Dr. Saxton Pope, Ishi's friend and physician.
Given Pope's keen interest in archery, it comes as no surprise that
he took most of the pictures of Ishi using bow and arrow.
While living in San Francisco, Ishi typically
was dressed in trousers, shirt, jacket, and shoes. Although Ishi
went up to Deer Creek in western clothing, Kroeber had him strip
down for performances to be documented by the camera (sequences
documenting fire-making, bow and arrow-making, hunting, fishing).
In these images, Ishi wears a loin-cloth that he may never have
worn before coming into the white man's world.
Yahi men had formerly worn a variety of
animal skin robes, blankets, and aprons. In fact, although Ishi
and his family were attempting to flee from "civilization,"
he lived his entire life in a world formed by the white man. Along
with glass-bottle projectile points and metal spoons, the Yahi of
Ishi's time also used cloth hats and denim bags.
Alfred Kroeber's most extensively illustrated
publication is his summary reference work, the Handbook of the
Indians of California. In the photographs, like the text itself,
he supplements his own research with the work of his students and
Generally, Kroeber presented his images
very closely to how he originally photographed them, with little
cropping, enlargement, or retouching. In his captions, he used his
pictures to construct an "ethnographic present." None
of the people illustrated in the Handbook are identified by personal
name, which were often known to Kroeber. For instance, pictures
of Ishi shooting a bow and drilling fire are identified as "Yahi"
instead of with Ishi's name.
Alfred Kroeber's photographs have come
to serve as some of our principal sources for the visual image of
Native Californians. They were featured prominently in the major
photographic album devoted to the subject, Almost Ancestors, as
well as the recent magazine, News from Native California. Perhaps
the most interesting and most extensive use of his pictures was
by his widow, Theodora Kroeber, in her influential biography of
Ishi. 41 Relying heavily on the 1914 Deer Creek series, Mrs. Kroeber
followed her husband's lead in situating Ishi as a pre-contact aborigine,
further contributing to the creation of a mythical, in fact, timeless,
Note: In addition to Alfred Kroeber's visual anthropology, his interests
include museology, the history of anthropology, and the art and
culture of Indians of Western North America. Published in
American Indian Culture and Research Journal vol. 20, no. 3, pp.
15-32 (1996) also see, Alfred Kroeber and Samuel A. Barrett,
Fishing Among the Indians of Northwestern California (University
of California Anthropological Records 21, 1960), 152, and T. Kroeber,
Ishi in Two Worlds. Click here to download the free YosemiteNews.com
Research Literature Bibliography.]
May 1, 2001
Can Take Indians Out of Yosemite
You Can't Take Yosemite Out of the Indians
-- The definition of wilderness found in the 1964 Wilderness
Act is simply stated as that "place where man himself is
a visitor who does not remain." In Yosemite National Park there
has been a century-old discussion of Yosemite Miwok's relationship
to the "wilderness".
It has been argued that after the War
of 1812 and before the Civil War American romanticism
of an Indian wilderness set the stage for the romanticized "national
park" which in 1833, the painter George Catlin's depicted as
a place where tourists could come and see the Indian "in his
classic attire, galloping his horse ... amid the fleeting herds
of elks and buffaloes."
Catlin's vision of romanticism for an Indian
wilderness was quite common during the first half of the nineteenth
century. By that time many Americans had begun to travel and to
witness the vast Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River
as an artifact to be preserved. In fact, Indian Territory began
to function as if a national recreation area for writers, artists,
and international travelers.
Catlin's argument for the preservation
of the Indian wilderness laid the groundwork for the concept of
an outdoor cultural museum and wild animal park. In time, the political
will for such a government venture surfaced.
It was the emergence of the ideology of
Manifest Destiny, emerging from The Mexican War and the molding
of public opinion in subsequent Indian wars on the Plains that shifted
the balance. That coupled with westward expansion changed Americans'
notions about Indians and wilderness and recreation.
However by the late Nineteenth Century
the strategy of an Indian-free wilderness swept through official
government offices in Washington D.C. With the creation of Yellowstone
National Park in 1872 the Indian removal in Yellowstone was being
justified on grounds that removing a native population was necessary
in order to "preserve nature."
Thus, the ideal of a pure nature
became the model for other national parks. The story of the Yosemite
Miwok and their expulsion from Yosemite Valley is directly tied
to that policy. However, the Ahwahneechee Indians' original removal
from the Valley coincided with the "discovery" of Yosemite
in 1851 by state militias.
The Mariposa Battalion militia unceremoniously
expelled the Indians from the Valley. After the militia had departed,
the Miwok Awhaneechee tribe quietly returned.
For the Ahwahneechee, the Valley, which
they believed had been given to them by the Creator at the beginning
of time, served as a rich storehouse of acorns, fish, plants, and
deer. The Valley uplands provided some protection from newly arrived
prospectors and settlers on the Valley floor.
The Awahneechee and the other Yosemite
Miwok who had survived for thousands of years on the park's natural
bounty, would soon learn to survive on tourist dollars, especially
after the Valley grew in popularity during the last third of the
Male and female Yosemite Miwok worked for
the hotels, served as guides, and sold berries and freshly caught
fish to visitors, but they also made a living selling "authentic"
Miwok material culture. They danced, sang, told fortunes,
and sold baskets, all of which generated profit because early tourists
still "associated Indians with wilderness".
In the Twentieth Century, the National
Park Service capitalized on this lingering nostalgia for Indians
by staging "Indian Field Days," an annual event
in which the government paid Yosemite Miwok to put on Plains
Indians regalia, weave baskets and ride horses in Yosemite Valley
meadows. The staging of the Yosemite Miwok increased Park visitation
during the Autumn when attendance was otherwise quite low.
By the 1930s, the status of Yosemite Miwok
was put at risk by the NPS to drive the remaining Yosemite Indians
out of their permanent residences on the valley floor. The Park
Service relocated the Indians to new dwellings, increased the rent,
enforced new rules, and evicted those who did not work for the NPS.
Yosemite Miwok went to court to hold onto
their land. But, the NPS used the power and force of arms to drive
Indian residents out of their homes, house by house. NPS officials
destroyed the remaining homes of the Yosemite Miwok during a fire-fighting
drill in 1969.
The story of Yellowstone Indians followed the
same pattern. The Yellowstone Indian "wilderness," can
be traced back to Paleo-Indians, Shoshone, Bannock, and Mountain
Crow in the middle third of the nineteenth century.
Indian groups used the area of the Yellowstone
Park for collecting obsidian, hunting, plant gathering, and vision
quests, and Indians left offerings at these sites and used thermal
energy for cooking.
Starting in the late 1870s, Yellowstone
Park officials and the U.S. military produced drove Indians to leave
the area. Park officials believed that the presence of Indians scared
away tourists, especially after widespread publicity of an 1877
encounter between park tourists and bands of Nez Perce fleeing the
U.S. Army. Park officials also blamed Indian hunting and fires for
the destruction of wilderness and game.
The Blackfeet Indians didn't fare any better at
their mountainous Montana landscape where theft had gathered plants,
hunted, and collected timber for the construction of cabins and
The Blackfeet, facing starvation, agreed
in 1895 to sell "the backbone of the world" to the United
States government for $1.5 million, with the stipulation that tribal
members could use the ceded land for fishing, hunting, and timber
collection. It is this land that would, in 1910, become the eastern
half of Glacier National Park.
In violation of the terms of the 1895 agreement,
NPS officials tried to prevent the Blackfeet from using the natural
resources of their former homeland and even made several unsuccessful
attempts to lay claim to even more Blackfeet land. The Blackfeet
went to the U.S. District Court in Montana, the U.S. Court of
Claims, and the new political centralization authorized by the
Indian Reorganization Act to fight NPS.
While the discussion of Indian removal from
the parks is well founded, most American visitors in Yosemite National
Park approach the question "Where are the Yosemite Miwok?"
with about the same level of apprehension as they
do in asking Rangers "Where's the cemetery?"
[Editor's Note: Click
here to download the free YosemiteNews.com Miwok
Research Literature Bibliography.] For another reliable
reference source of information on the Yosemite Miwok people see,
Indian Life Of The Yosemite Region: Miwok Material Culture,
Barrett, S. A., Barrett, Samuel A., Joint Author Gifford, Edward
Tuesday May 29, 2001
Indians of North America
Links To Cultural Background
News Research Staff
YOSEMITE VALLEY - - The following links
are provided as a public service by the YosemiteNews.net to our
reasder. The the content displayed by external links may or may
not be current and cauhioin is advised.
Indian Tribes and Activists of the West
Occupation: The Story
- The 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island is seen as a watershed
event in contemporary Native American history.
- This site provides a brief history of the occupation as documented
in my book, "The Occupation of Alcatraz Island, Indian Self-determination
and The Rise of Indian Activism
Occupaion in photographs
- This collection of photographs and descriptions by Ilka Hartmann
tell the story of the American Indian occupation
- of Alcatraz Island through the eyes of those who made up the
The Story of American Indian Inmates
- Written by Ranger Craig Glassner, this site tells of the Army's
use of Alcatraz as the nation's first permanent military prison
and focuses on the imprisonment of a number of Native Americans
from 1873 to 1895.
The Story of the Hopi Inmates, Part 1
- This website is a joint project of the National Park Service
and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. The articles
and photographs document an event connecting the history of the
Hopi people and Alcatraz. The story of the Alcatraz inmates
is authored by Wendy Holliday, Historian with the Hopi Cultural
The Story of the Hopi Inmates, Part 2
- In connection with Part 1 of this collection, this site traces
the government's Indian policy and the effect it had on the people
of Hopi in the late 19th century, culminating with the imprisonment
of 19 Hopi men by the U. S. Army on Alcatraz Island in 1895.
- The Native
- Contains Photographs, drawings, maps and short descriptions
chroniclizing the experiences of the Native American population
dating from the first migrations from Siberia (pre-1600) through
- The Navajo
- Photographer Ilka Hartmann's collection of photographs taken
in 1971 on the Navajo Reservation.
De Bry Copper Plate Engravings
- A collection of images and descriptions depicting early American
life in the United States.
- A gathering of North American Indian tribes at California State
University, Long Beach on April 28, 1990.
Recognized Indian Tribes
- Provides a state by state listing of all non-federally recognized
American Indian tribes in the United States.
Indians of Central America and Mexico
of the Maya
- An online exhibit from the Canadian Museum of Civilization
and Digital Equipment of Canada, LTD. containing
- an excellent presentation of Mayan culture.
- The Pacific
Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico
- Information on the people, tourist info and pointers to other
- Multicultural Film & Videos: Films on Mexican Indians
Recognized Indian Nations
- A complete listing of Native Nations eligible to receive services
from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Spanish Exploration
and Conquest of Native America
- Hernando de Soto invaded Native America in the 1640s.
This site describes large Indian villages that existed at the
time and the results of Spanish warfare and diseases.
Studies General Reading List
- Prepared by the University of Arizona, this site provides an
extensive reading list for anyone interested in American Indian
issues. The list was last revised in August 1998.
Ridge vs. Whiteclay: June 24 to July 6, 1999.
- A photo-documentary of the June/July 1999 confrontation between
the Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge and the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska.
Two Pine Ridge men were found dead in a ditch
- off the main road between Whiteclay, a town with a population
of 22, four liquor stores, selling more than 4 million cans of
beer a year. Outraged over the murders, outraged about beer,
- outraged about long-standing land claims, Lakota tribal leaders
decided that it was time to stand up and shout.
Indian's FYI: Today's News
- This site provides an up-to-date resource for what is hapening
in Indian Country on a daily basis. If you want
- to know what is happening today, this is the place to look!
- U. S. Environmental
Protection Agency: Indian Program
- Information on the efforts to help build tribal capacity to
manage Indian Country enviornmental programs and to insure that
tribes have a voice in decisions that affect their lands.
This Date In North American Indian History
- This site lists over 3000 historical events which happened
to or affected the indigeneous peoples of North
- America. The site also has tribal name meanings and alternative
names as well as links to many other sites.
State, and Government Agencies
- Do not miss this site! This is an excellent research and resource
site full of great information and updated often.
- Index of Non-federally
recognized Indian tribes that have applied for federal acknowledgment
- This site provides a list of non-federally recognized Indian
tribes that have applied for federal acknowledgment regardless
of the status of such request
- Native American
- This site is a non-commercial "web magazine" devoted to images
of Native American people, places and mother earth. The
site includes both visual and word images and links to a
- select group of exceptional Native American web sites.
- Indigeneous Education Resources
- The Directory of Indigeneous Education Resources is an updated
version of the 1993 plublication, the Directory of Native Education
Resources in the Far West Region. This vesion
- coincides with the recent release of a new national directory
and includes listings such as Head Start, Child Care, Title IX
programs and Johnson O'Malley contractors in Arizona,
- California, Utah, and Nevada.
- Native American
Cultural resources in Southern California
- An award winning site that provides an extensive listing of
Native American organizations and cultural events
- in Southern California
- North American
Cultural/Ethnic Resources in Southern California
- Provides a listing of colleges and cultural research and resource
centers in Southern California. Included also
- are private Native organizations and powwow schedules.
- Native American
Literature and History
- An excellent archive of Native American history and literature,
including course syallabus
- Lisa Mitten's
- Provides acces to home pages of individual Native Americans
and to other sites that provide solid information
- about American Indians
- LittleSpiritHawk is a non profit organization operated by Native
Americans. Its primary purpose is to build and maintain
an inter-tribal ceremonial and cultural center in the northern
San Joaquin Valley of California.
American Support Group
- The Native American Support Group of New York City was founded
in 1988 to present issues of Native
- Americans from the United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. In
October 1977 NASG added International issues
- as well.
- The Student
Council of Inter-Tribal Nations (S.C.A.N.)
- Recounts the forming of the Student Council of American Natives
at San Francisco State University and later
- the Student Kouncil of Inter-Tribal Nations (S.K.I.N.S.) Includes
interesting information on the 1969
- American Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island and Richard Oakes,
one of the student leaders of the occupation.
- National Museum
of The American Indian Film and Video Center
- This site includes general information on the Film and Video
Center and its resources. The site also showcases monthly featured
artisits and upcoming Native American Film Fideo Festivals.
of Indian Affairs Web Site, Washington, D.C.
- A guide to Indian affairs including tribal services, government
trust responsibility, listing of tribal leaders,
- how to trace Indian ancestry and more.
Mascot Issue: Indians Are People, Not Mascots
- This page is intended to be a compilation of web sites and
writings on the issue of Indian mascots used by
- sports teams.
- Native American Women's
Health Education Resource Center
- This site makes the Resource Center's publications on Native
American public health issues available to the community at large.
The internship program will also be of interest to students and
others who may want to
- serve as advocates at the women's shelter.
- Official Web
Site For The American Indian Church
- Information on the American Indian Church, Nataive American
Information, Walking the Wellness Path
- Home, Honoring the Earth Campaign, and Whitewolf's Photo Gallery
- O'SIYO: First
National Bulletin Board
- An A-Z alphabetical listing of information/sites dealing
with significant American Indian Issues
- Images of masks, and masks from around the world
of The Wolf
- This site is intended to be a place of reflection on the words
of the First Peoples. Includes quotes from Chief
- Seattle, Tecumseh, Chief Joseph, and others.
- Native American Authors
- This site contains the names of about 400 authors, nearly 900
books, and about 275 websites relating to
- native American people
Native American Authors Online
- This site is devoted to showcasing the work of Native American
authors, primarily those living and writing
- Native Tech
- Devoted to presenting Native American technology and art.
- Native Web
- An excellent resource organized by subject, geographic regions
Pueblo Cultural Center
- A presentation of nineteen Pueblo communities.
Indians & Intertrbial Native American Associations
- Decicated to Intertribal Native Americans with a special interest
in the Native-African-Indian communities
- The Powwow Editions
- Photographer Ben Marra's collection of Powwow photos.
- Provincial Museum
- Programs of interest to all age levels. Some of the finest
human and natural hisory colletions
- Native American Constitution
and Law Digitization Project
- This site offers access to the full texts of selected legal
documents. Among these are Constitutions, Tribal
- Codes, Charters, Indian Land Titles, and summaries of recent
U.S. Supreme Court cases that have involved
- or affected Native American people.
- Legislative Impact
- This site was created to serve as a consolidated legislative
research resource for Indian County. The site
- contains Congressional Bills, pending legislation, Congressional
contacts, as well as a directory for
- members of the U. S. House of Representatives, and the U. S.
- Teaching Indigeneous
- Contains teaching and other educational resources for
stabilizing and teaching indigeneous languages. Includes
- materials on revitalizing, teaching, and stabilizing indigeneous
languages, American Indian Links, bilingual/ESL links,
- literacy/readings links, multicultrual education links, and
education links, general.
Tribe and Nation Homepages
- Home pages of individual Native Nations as well as links to
Indian educational resources and
- Native organizations.
- Indian Circle Web Ring
- Indian Circle is a ring connecting the internet web pages of
federally recognized Indian Tribe. An excellent resource!
- A Line in the Sand
- Cultural property belonging to various cultural groups.
- Arctic Circle
- This site provides resources on the indigenous peoples of Alaska,
Canada, Northwest Siberia with a focus
- on the natural resources, history and culture, social equity
and environmental justice of the region.
- Abenaki of Mazipskwik
and Related Bands
- This site is devoted to the cutural history, and presevation,
of the traditional Abenakis of Mazipskwik
Culture and History
- The original homeland of the Dakota people during historic
times was in Minnesota. The dialect changed as
- the Dakota people moved West. Visit this site for an introduction
to Dakota Culture and History.
- Confederation of the Hileni, or Illiniwe, the Peovia, Kaskaskia,
Tamaroa, Cahokia and Michigamea. This
- site provides an overview of these Illinois people.
- This site provides an extensive listing of links to infomation
such as Iroquois Treaties, Wampum Belts
- and Treaties, Corn and the Indians of the Northeast, General
Iroquois information, The Iroquois
- Constitution, the Iroquois and the U.S./Canadian Border, and
Taino Tribal Nation Home Page
- The history of the Taino Nation of the Caribbean from October
11, 1492 to the present.
Taino Tribal Band of New Jersey
- The history of the Taino Nation of New Jersey from October
11, 1492 to the present.
- The Lumbee Indians
- This site is a resource guide to the musical and religious
history and traditions of the Lumbee Indians of
- Robeson County, North Carolina.
Culture and History
- An introduction to Ojibway Culture and History
Ohlone/Costanoan Media Gallery
- Contains video and sound clips with songs and cultural material
on the Ohlone and Costanoan people of
- North America.
- Oneida Indian Nation Home
- The Oneida Indian Nation, one of the original members of the
Iroquois Confederacy, enjoys a unique role
- in America's history. Read and learn about the Oneida Indian
Nation on this excellent site.
- Oneida Indian
Nation Cultural Center, the Shako:Wi Project
- Excellent images of artifacts on display in the Cultural Center.
- Seminole Tribe of Florida
- This site is dedicated to the rich history and culture of the
Florida Seminole Indians
New Jersey Taino Tribe of Jatibanuco
- This site tells the History and gives information on the Jatibanuco
people (Taino Tribe)
Munsee Tribe of Mohican Indians
- Provides an overview of the history, culture, and language
of the Muh-he-ka-ne-ok,
- Stockbridge MunseeTribe of Mohican Indians
- Tekesta Taino
Tribal Band of Bimini Florida
- The history of the Taino Nation of the Caribbean from October
11, 1492 to the present.
- From Alaska's Tongass web sites. Covers Alaska Tlingit history,
current issues, culture, Alaska
- Natives Online and additional Native American resources.
Creek Indian Mound
- This site presents the Native American Legacy found at the
Town Creek Indian Mound
Eskimo Home Page From Toksook Bay, Alaska
- Live photos from downtown Anchorage, or Learn to speak Yup'ik
the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow
into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own
freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will
drop off like autumn leaves."
-- John Muir, 1901