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Title: Indians of the Yosemite Valley and Vicinity - Their History, Customs and Traditions
Author: Clark, Galen, 1814-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Indians of the Yosemite Valley and Vicinity - Their History, Customs and Traditions" ***

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[Illustration: _Photograph by Taber_.]

[Signature: Galen Clark]


Their History, Customs and Traditions


Author of "Big Trees of California," Discoverer of the Mariposa
Grove of Big Trees, and for many years Guardian
of the Yosemite Valley.

With an Appendix
Useful Information for Yosemite Visitors





Copyright 1904, by Galen Clark




  I. EARLY HISTORY                                1
 II. EFFECTS OF THE WAR                          14
 IV. SOURCES OF FOOD SUPPLY                      31
 VI. NATIVE INDUSTRIES                           67
VII. MYTHS AND LEGENDS                           76

     Hints to Yosemite Visitors                 101
     Official Table of Distances and Livery
       Charges                                  105
     Supplementary Table of Distances           107
     Interpretation of Indian Names             107
     Tables of Altitudes                        110
     Names of Indian Numerals                   111
     Indian Words in Common Use                 111
     Tribes Placed on Reservations in 1850-51   112

List of Illustrations

COVER DESIGN                         Mrs. Jorgensen
FRONTISPIECE, GALEN CLARK                     Taber


YOSEMITE FALLS, Fiske                             3
AN INDIAN DANCER, Boysen                          8
THREE BROTHERS, Foley                            13
CAPTAIN PAUL, Foley                              17
YOSEMITE MOTHER AND PAPOOSE, Boysen              20
INDIAN O´-CHUM, Jorgensen                        25
A YOSEMITE HUNTER, Jorgensen                     32
INDIAN SWEAT HOUSE, Jorgensen                    34
CHUCK´-AH, Mrs. Jorgensen                        39
HO´-YAS AND ME-TATS´, Fiske                      42
A WOOD GATHERER, Fiske                           47
A YOUNG YOSEMITE, Dove                           53
LENA AND VIRGIL, Boysen                          55
OLD KALAPINE, Boysen                             62
YOSEMITE BASKETRY, Boysen                        66
MRS. JORGENSEN'S BASKETS                         68
INDIAN BEAD WORK, Fiske                          70
A BASKET MAKER, Boysen                           73
MARY, Boysen                                     79
HALF DOME, Foley                                 84
A BURDEN BEARER, Fiske                           88
EL CAPITAN, Foley                                91
NORTH DOME, Foley                                93
BRIDAL VEIL, FALL, Fiske                         97

Introduction and Sketch of the Author

Galen Clark, the author of this little volume, is one of the
notable characters of California, and the one best fitted to
record the customs and traditions of the Yosemite Indians, but it
was only after much persuasion that his friends succeeded in
inducing him to write the history of these interesting people,
with whom he has been in close communication for half a century.

The Indians of the Yosemite are fast passing away. Only a handful
now remain of the powerful tribes that once gathered in the
Valley and considered it an absolute stronghold against their
white enemies. Even in their diminished numbers and their
comparatively civilized condition, they are still a source of
great interest to all visitors, and it has been suggested many
times that their history, customs and legends should be put in
permanent and convenient form, before they are entirely lost.

Many tales and histories of the California Indians have been
written by soldiers and pioneers, but Mr. Clark has told the
story of these people from their own standpoint, and with a
sympathetic understanding of their character. This fresh point of
view gives double interest to his narrative.

Galen Clark comes of a notable family; his English ancestors came
to the State of Massachusetts in the seventeenth century, but he
is a native of the Town of Dublin, Cheshire County, New
Hampshire, born on the 28th day of March, 1814, and is
consequently nearly ninety years of age, but still alert and
active in mind and body.

He attended school in his early youth during the winter months,
and worked on a farm during the summer, leading nearly the same
life which was followed by so many others who afterwards became
famous in our country's history.

Later in life he learned chair-making and painting, an occupation
which he followed for some years, when he removed to Philadelphia
and subsequently to New York City.

Whilst residing in New York, in 1853, he resolved, after mature
reflection, to visit the new Eldorado. His attention was first
attracted to this State by visiting the celebrated Crystal
Palace in New York, where was then on exhibition quantities of
gold dust which had been sent or brought East by successful

Mr. Clark left New York for California in October, 1853, coming
via the Isthmus of Panama, and in due time reached his
destination. In 1854 he went to Mariposa County, attracted
thither by the wonderful accounts of the gold discoveries, and
the marvelous stories he had heard of the grandeur and beauty of
the Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Upon his first arrival in Mariposa, he engaged in mining, and was
also employed to assist in surveying Government land on the west
side of the San Joaquin Valley, and canals for mining purposes,
some of which passed through the celebrated "Mariposa Grant," the
subject of prolonged and bitter litigation, both in this country
and in Europe. He probably knows more about the actual facts
concerning the Mariposa Grant than any one now living, and it is
to be hoped that some day he may overcome his natural repugnance
to notoriety, and give to the public the benefit of his

In the year 1855 Mr. Clark made his first trip into the Yosemite
Valley with a party made up in Mariposa and Bear Valley.

Returning to Mariposa, he resumed his old occupation of surveying
and mining, and, whilst so engaged, by reason of exposure, had a
serious attack of lung trouble, resulting in severe hemorrhages
which threatened to end his life.

He then removed, in April, 1857, to the South Fork of the Merced
River, and built a log cabin in one of the most beautiful of our
mountain valleys, on the spot where Wawona now stands. He soon
recovered his health entirely, and, though constantly exposed to
the winter storms and snows, has never had a recurrence of his

Wawona is twenty-six miles from Yosemite, and at that time became
known as Clark's Station, being on the trail leading from
Mariposa to the Valley, and a noted stopping place for travelers.
This trail, as well as one from Coulterville, was completed to
the Valley in 1857, and the trip to Yosemite then involved a
stage ride of ninety-two miles, and a journey of sixty miles more
on horseback. In 1874 and 1875 the three present stage roads were
constructed through to the Valley.

All travelers by the Raymond route will remember Wawona and the
surroundings; the peaceful valley, the swift-flowing Merced, and
the surrounding peaks and mountains, almost equaling in grandeur
the famous Yosemite itself.

In the early days this locality was annually visited by several
bands of Indians from the Chowchilla and Fresno rivers. The
Indian name for the place was Pal-lah´-chun. Whilst residing
there Mr. Clark was in constant contact with these visiting
tribes; he obtained their confidence, and retains it to this day.

Whilst on a hunting trip, in the summer of 1857, Mr. Clark
discovered and made known to the public the famous Big Tree
Grove, now known all over the world as the "Mariposa Grove of Big
Trees," belonging to the State of California. On this expedition
he did not follow the route now traveled, but came upon the grove
at the upper end, near the place where the road to Wawona Point
now branches off from the main drive. The spot where he caught
his first view of the Big Trees has been appropriately marked,
and can be seen from the stage road.

So impressed was Mr. Clark with the importance of his discovery,
that he opened up a good horse trail from Wawona to the Trees,
and shortly afterwards built a log cabin in the grove, for the
comfort and convenience of visitors in bad or stormy weather.
This cabin became known as "Galen's Hospice."

In the year 1864 the Congress of the United States passed an Act,
which was approved in June of the same year, granting to the
State of California the "Yosemite Valley" and the "Mariposa Grove
of Big Trees." This grant was made upon certain conditions, which
were complied with by the State, and a Commission was appointed
by Governor Low to manage and govern the Valley and the Big Tree
Grove. Galen Clark was, of course, selected as one of the
commissioners. He was subsequently appointed Guardian of the
Valley, and under his administration many needed improvements
were made and others suggested. Bridges were built, roads
constructed on the floor of the Valley, and trails laid out and
finished to various points of interest overlooking the Valley
itself. In a word, the Guardian did everything possible with the
limited means at his disposal.

After serving twenty-four years, Mr. Clark voluntarily retired
from the position of Guardian, carrying with him the respect and
admiration of every member of the Commission, of all the
residents of the Valley, and of every visitor who enjoyed the
pleasure of his personal acquaintance.

As showing the opinion of those with whom Mr. Clark was
intimately and officially associated for so long a time, the
following resolutions passed by the Board of Commissioners upon
his voluntary retirement from the office of Guardian, are herein

     Whereas, Galen Clark has for a long number of years been
     closely identified with Yosemite Valley, and has for a
     considerable portion of that time been its Guardian; and

     Whereas, he has now, by his own choice and will,
     relinquished the trust confided in him and retired into
     private life; and

     Whereas, his faithful and eminent services as Guardian, his
     constant efforts to preserve, protect and enhance the
     beauties of Yosemite; his dignified, kindly and courteous
     demeanor to all who have come to see and enjoy its wonders,
     and his upright and noble life, deserve from us a fitting
     recognition and memorial; Now, Therefore, be it

     Resolved, That the cordial assurance of the appreciation by
     this Commission of the efforts and labors of Galen Clark, as
     Guardian of Yosemite, in its behalf, be tendered and
     expressed to him.

     That we recognize in him a faithful, efficient and worthy
     citizen and officer of this Commission and of the State;
     that he will be followed into his retirement by the
     sincerest and best wishes of this Commission, individually
     and as a body, for continued long life and constant

The subject of this sketch is one of the most modest of men; but
perfectly self-reliant, and always actively engaged in some
useful work. He has resided in the Valley for more than twenty
summers, and has also been a resident during many winters, and
his descriptions of the Valley, when wrapped in snow and ice, are
intensely interesting. Though always ready to give information,
he is naturally reticent, and never forces his stories or
reminiscences upon visitors; indeed it requires some persuasion
to hear him talk about himself at all. For some years Mr. Clark
was postmaster of Yosemite; and he has made many trips on foot,
both in winter and summer, in and out of the Valley.

In September, 1903, this writer made a trip through the high
Sierras from Yosemite, and, upon reaching the top of the Valley
Mr. Clark was met coming down the trail, having in charge a party
of his friends, amongst whom was a lady with her two small
children. This was at a point 2700 feet above the floor of the
Valley, which is itself 4000 feet above the level of the sea.

Needless to say, he is perfectly familiar with all the mountain
trails, and, notwithstanding his great age, he easily makes long
trips on foot and horseback which would fatigue a much younger
man. Mr. Clark is thoroughly familiar with the flora, fauna and
geology of the Valley and its surroundings. His knowledge of
botany is particularly accurate, a knowledge gleaned partly from
books, but mainly from close personal observation, the best
possible teacher.

His long residence in Yosemite has made him familiar with every
spot, his love for the Valley is deep and strong, and when he
departs this life his remains will rest close to the Yosemite
Falls, in the little grave yard where other pioneers are buried.

With his own hands he has dug his grave, and quarried his own
tombstone from one of the massive blocks of granite found in the
immediate neighborhood. His monument now rests in his grave, and
when it is removed to receive his remains, will be used to mark
his last resting place. His grave is surrounded by a neat fence,
and trees, shrubs and vines, which he has himself planted, grow
around in great profusion. In each corner of the lot is a young

May it be many years before he is called to occupy his last
earthly tenement.


_San Francisco,
February, 1904_.



Chapter One.


During the past few years a rapidly growing interest in the
native Indians has been manifested by a large majority of
visitors to the Yosemite Valley. They have evinced a great desire
to see them in their rudely constructed summer camps, and to
purchase some articles of their artistic basket and bead work, to
take away as highly prized souvenirs.

They are also anxious to learn something of their former modes of
life, habits and domestic industries, before their original
tribal relations were ruthlessly broken up by the sudden advent
of the white population of gold miners and others in 1850, and
the subsequent war, in which the Indians were defeated, and, as
a result, nearly exterminated.


According to statements made by Teneiya _(Ten-eye´-ya)_ [see
footnote] chief of the Yosemites, to Dr. L.H. Bunnell, and
published by him in his book on the "Discovery of the Yosemite",
the original Indian name of the Valley was Ah-wah´-nee, which
has been translated as "deep grassy valley", and the Indians
living there were called Ah-wah-nee´-chees, which signified
"dwellers in Ah-wah´-nee."

[Footnote: The Indian names are usually pronounced exactly as
spelled, with each syllable distinctly sounded, and the principal
accent on the penult, as in Ah-wah´-nee, or the antepenult, as
in Yo-sem´-i-te. Where doubt might exist, the accent will be
indicated, or the pronunciation given in parenthesis.]

[Transcriber's note: The remaining footnotes in the original text are
moved, in the present version, into the line of text and are
marked by square brackets, thus: Ah-wah´-nee [Yosemite Valley].]

Many years ago, the old chief said, the Ah-wah-nee´-chees had
been a large and powerful tribe, but by reason of wars and a
fatal black sickness, nearly all had been destroyed, and the
survivors of the band fled from the Valley and joined other

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_.
Near the foot of these falls was located the village of
Ah-wah´-nee, the Indian capital and residence of Chief Teneiya.
There were eight other villages in the Valley.]

For years afterwards this locality was uninhabited, but finally
Teneiya, who claimed to be descended from an Ah-wah-nee´-chee
chief, left the Mo´nos, where he had born and brought up,
and, gathering of his father's old tribe around him, visited the
Valley and claimed it as the birthright of his people. He then
became the founder of a new tribe or band, which received the
name "Yo-sem´-i-te." This word signifies a full-grown grizzly
bear, and Teneiya said that the name had been given to his band
because they occupied the mountains and valley which were the
favorite resort of the grizzly bears, and his people were expert
in killing them; that his tribe had adopted the name because
those who had bestowed it were afraid of the grizzlies, and also
feared his band.

The Yosemites were perhaps the most warlike of any of the tribes
in this part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, who were, as a rule,
a peaceful people, dividing the territory among them, and
indulging in few controversies. In fact, these Indians in general
were less belligerent and warlike than any others on the Pacific
Coast. When difficulties arose, they were usually settled
peacefully by arbitration, in a grand council of the chiefs and
head men of the tribes involved, without resorting to open


Other bands of Indians in the vicinity of the Yosemite Valley
were the Po-ho-nee´-chees who lived near the headwaters of the
Po-ho´-no or Bridal Veil Creek in summer, and on the South Fork
of the Merced´ River in winter, about twelve miles below
Wawo´na; the Po-to-en´-cies, who lived on the Merced River;
Wil-tuc-um´-nees, Tuol´-unme River; Noot´-choos and
Chow-chil´-las, Chowchilla Valley; Ho-na´-ches and
Me´-woos, Fresno River and vicinity; and Chook-chan´-ces, San
Joaquin River and vicinity.

These tribes, including the Yosemites, were all somewhat
affiliated by common ancestry or by intermarriage, and were
similar in their general characteristics and customs. They were
all called by the early California settlers, "Digger Indians," as
a term of derision, on account of their not being good fighters,
and from their practice of digging the tuberous roots of certain
plants, for food.


Dr. Bunnell, in his book already referred to, has given the
soldiers' and white men's account of the cause of the Indian war
of 1851, but a statement of the grievances on the part of the
Indians, which caused the uniting of all the different tribes in
the mining region adjacent to Yosemite, in an attempt to drive
the white invaders from their country, has never been published,
and a brief account of these grievances may be interesting.


The first parties of prospecting miners were welcomed by the
Indians with their usual friendliness and hospitality toward
strangers--a universal characteristic of these tribes,--and the
mining for gold was watched with great interest. They soon
learned the value of the gold dust, and some of them engaged in
mining, and exchanged their gold at the trading stations for
blankets and fancy trinkets, at an enormous profit to the
traders, and peace and good feeling prevailed for a short time.

The report of the rich gold "diggin's" on the waters of the
Tuolumne, Merced, Mariposa, Chowchilla, and Fresno Rivers, soon
spread, and miners by thousands came and took possession of the
whole country, paying no regard to the natural rights or wishes
of the Indians.

Some of the Indian chiefs made the proposition that if the miners
would give them some of the gold which they found in their part
of the country, they might stay and work. This offer was not
listened to by the miners, and a large majority of the white
invaders treated the natives as though they had no rights
whatever to be respected. In some instances, where Indians had
found and were working good mining claims, they were forcibly
driven away by white miners, who took possession of their claims
and worked them.

Moreover, the Indians saw that their main sources of food supply
were being rapidly destroyed. The oak trees, which produced the
acorns--one of their staple articles of food,--were being cut
down and burned by miners and others in clearing up land for
cultivation, and the deer and other food game were being
rapidly killed off or driven from the locality.

[Illustration: _Copyrighted Photograph by Boysen_.
Chow-chil-la Indian in full war-dance costume.]

In the "early days," before California was admitted as a free
State into the Union, it was reported, and was probably true,
that some of the immigrants from the slave-holding States took
Indians and made slaves of them in working their mining claims.
It was no uncommon event for the sanctity of their homes and
families to be invaded by some of the "baser sort," and young
women taken, willing or not, for servants and wives.


In retaliation, and as some compensation for these many grievous
outrages upon their natural inalienable rights of domain and
property, and their native customs, the Indians stole horses and
mules from the white settlers, and killed them for food for their
families, who, in many instances, were in a condition of

Finally the chiefs and leading men of all the tribes involved met
in a grand council, and resolved to combine their warrior forces
in one great effort to drive all their white enemies from the
country, before they became more numerous and formidable.


To prepare for this struggle for existence, they made raids upon
some of the principal trading posts in the mining sections,
killed those in charge, took all the blankets, clothing and
provisions they could carry away, and fled to the mountains,
where they were soon pursued by the soldiers and volunteer
citizens, and a spirited battle was fought without any decisive
advantage to either side.

The breaking out of actual hostilities created great excitement
among the whites, and an urgent call was made upon the Governor
of the State for a military force to meet the emergency, and
protect the settlers--a force strong enough to thoroughly subdue
the Indians, and remove all of them to reservations to be
selected by the United States Indian Commissioners for that

Meantime the Governor and the Commissioners, who had then
arrived, were receiving numerous communications, many of them
from persons in high official positions, earnestly urging a more
humane and just policy, averring that the Indians had real cause
for complaint, that they had been "more sinned against than
sinning" since the settling of California by the whites, and that
they were justly entitled to protection by the Government and
compensation for the spoliations and grievances they had

These protests doubtless had some influence in delaying hostile
measures, and in the inauguration of efforts to induce the
Indians to come in and treat with the Commissioners, envoys being
sent out to assure them of fair treatment and personal safety.
Many of the Indians accepted these offers, and, as the different
tribes surrendered, they were taken to the two reservations which
the Commissioners had established for them on the Fresno River,
the principal one being a few miles above the place where the
town of Madera is now located.

As before stated, these Indians were not a warlike people. Their
only weapons were their bows and arrows, and these they soon
found nearly useless in defending themselves at long range
against soldiers armed with rifles. Moreover, their stock of
provisions was so limited that they either had to surrender or


The Yosemites and one or two other bands of Indians had refused
to surrender, and had retreated to their mountain strongholds,
where they proposed to make a last determined resistance. Active
preparations were accordingly made by the State authorities to
follow them, and either capture or exterminate all the tribes
involved. For this purpose a body of State volunteers, known as
the Mariposa Battalion, was organized, under the command of Major
James D. Savage, to pursue these tribes into the mountains; and,
after many long marches and some fighting, the Indians were all
defeated, captured, and, with their women and children, put upon
the reservations under strong military guard.

It was during this campaign that Major Savage and his men
discovered the Yosemite Valley, about the 21st of March, 1851,
while in pursuit of the Yosemites, under old Chief Teneiya, for
whom Lake Teneiya and Teneiya Canyon have appropriately been

[Illustration: _Photograph by Foley._
Named by the soldiers who discovered the Valley, to commemorate
the capture of three sons of Teneiya near this place. The Indian
name means "Falling Rocks."]

Chapter Two.


The Yosemites and all of the other tribes named in the previous
chapter were put upon the Fresno reservation. Major Savage, who
had been the leading figure in the war against the Indians, was
perhaps their best friend while in captivity, and finally lost
his life in a personal quarrel, while resenting a wrong which had
been committed against them.

The tribes from south of the San Joaquin River, who were also
conquered in 1851, were put upon the Kings River and Tejon
(_Tay-hone´_) reservations.


Ample food supplies, blankets, clothing and cheap fancy articles
were furnished by the Government for the subsistence, comfort and
pleasure of the Indians on the reservations, and for a short time
they seemed to be contented, and to enjoy the novelty of their
new mode of life. The young, able-bodied men were put to work
assisting in clearing, fencing and cultivating fields for hay
and vegetables, and thus they were partially self-supporting. A
large portion of them, however, soon began to tire of the
restraints imposed, and longed for their former condition of
freedom, and many of them sickened and died.

Old Teneiya, chief of the "Grizzlies," was particularly affected
by the change in his surroundings, and by the humiliation of
defeat. He suffered keenly from the hot weather of the plains,
after his free life in the mountains, and begged to be allowed to
return to his old home, promising not to disturb the white
settlers in any way, a pledge which he did not break.


Teneiya was finally allowed to depart, with his family, after
having been on the reservation only a few months, and some of his
old followers afterwards stole away and joined him. With this
remnant of his band he returned to the Yosemite, but not long
afterwards they were set upon by the Monos, a tribe from the
eastern side of the Sierras, with whom they had quarreled, and
the old chief and many of his warriors were killed. It was
perhaps fitting that he should meet his death in the valley which
he loved, and which he had so long defended against his enemies.


In 1855, after four years of confinement on the reservations, an
agreement was made with the Indian Commissioners, by the head men
of the tribes, that if their people were again allowed their
freedom, they would forever remain in peace with the white
settlers, and try and support themselves free of expense to the
Government. They were soon permitted to leave, and have ever
since faithfully kept their promise.

Most of them went back to the vicinity of their old homes, and
made temporary settlements on unoccupied Government land, as many
of their old village sites were now in possession of white
settlers. As there was a very large crop of acorns that season,
they gathered an abundant supply for winter use, and, with what
was given to them in the way of food and clothing by some of the
white settlers, they managed to get through the winter fairly

[Illustration: _Photograph by Foley_.
One of the characters of the Valley. Supposed to be 105 years
old, and a survivor of Teneiya's band.]


Their four years' residence on the reservations, however, had
been more of a school in the vices of the whites than one of a
higher education. They became demoralized socially, addicted to
many bad habits, and left the reservations in worse condition
than when they were taken there. Their old tribal relations and
customs were nearly broken up, though they still had their head
men to whom they looked for counsel in all important matters.

As the country became more settled, much of their main food
supply, the acorns, was consumed by the domestic animals of the
ranchers, and their mode of living became more precarious and
transitory, and many of them were, at times, in a condition near
to starvation. In these straitened and desperate circumstances,
many of their young women were used as commercial property, and
peddled out to the mining camps and gambling saloons for money to
buy food, clothing or whisky, this latter article being obtained
through the aid of some white person, in violation of law.

Their miserable, squalid condition of living opened the way for
diseases of a malignant character, which their medicine men could
not cure, and their numbers were rapidly reduced by death.

At the present time there are not in existence a half-dozen of
the old Yosemites who were living, even as children, when the
Valley was first discovered in 1851; and many of the other tribes
have been correspondingly reduced.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Boysen._
The baby basket is carried on the back, like all burdens, and
supported by a band across the forehead.]

Chapter Three.


As stated in a previous chapter, all of the Indian tribes
occupying the region in the vicinity of the Yosemite Valley were
more or less affiliated by blood and intermarriage and resembled
each other in their customs, characteristics and religious
beliefs. What is said, therefore, on these subjects in the
following pages, will be understood to apply generally to all of
the tribes which have been mentioned as inhabiting this region,
although, of course, minor differences did exist, principally due
to environment. As in the case of all primitive peoples, their
mode of life, food supply, etc., were largely determined by
natural conditions, and the tribes living in the warm foot-hills
differed somewhat in these respects from those dwelling higher in
the mountains.


In their original tribal settlements, at the time the first
pioneer whites came among them, the Indians had well defined or
understood boundary lines, between the territories claimed by
each tribe for their exclusive use in hunting game and gathering
means of support; and any trespassing on the domain of others was
likely to cause trouble. This arrangement, however, did not apply
to the higher ranges of the Sierras, which were considered common
hunting ground.


As there was a difference in the natural products and resources
of different sections of the country, there was a system of
reciprocal trade in the exchange of the different desirable
commodities. Sometimes commerce between tribes extended for a
long distance, as, for instance, the Indians on the western side
of the Sierra Nevada Mountains were entirely dependent upon the
Pai-utes _(Pye-yutes´)_ on the eastern side for the obsidian, a
kind of volcanic glass, from which they made the points for their
most deadly arrows, used in hunting large game or when in mortal
combat with their enemies. They were also dependent upon the
Pai-utes for their supply of salt for domestic use, which came in
solid blocks as quarried from salt mines, said to be two days'
travel on foot from Mono Lake.

From the Indians at or near the Catholic Missions to the South,
on the Pacific Coast, they got their hunting knives of iron or
steel, and sea shells of various kinds, for personal or dress
ornaments, and also to be used as money. From the same source
they obtained beads of various forms, sizes and colors, cheap
jewelry and other fancy articles, a few blankets, and pieces of
red bunting, strips of which the chiefs and head men wore around
their heads as badges, indicating their official positions.


They had a very efficient system of quickly spreading important
news by relays of special couriers, who took the news to the
first stations or tribes in different directions, where others
took the verbal dispatches and ran to the next station, and so
on, so that all tribes within an area of a hundred miles would
get the good or bad tidings within a few hours. In this manner
important communication was kept up between the different tribes.
They also had well organized signal systems, by fires in the
night and smoke by day, on high points of observation--variations
in the lights (either steady, bright or flashing) indicating
somewhat the character of the tidings thus given.


Their winter huts, or _o´-chums_, as they termed them, were
invariably of a conical form, made with small poles, and covered
with the bark of the incense cedar (_Libocedrus decurrens_). A
few poles ten or twelve feet long were set in the ground around
an area of about twelve feet in diameter, with their tops
inclined together. The outside was then closely covered with long
strips of the cedar bark, making it perfectly water-tight. An
opening was left on the south side for an entrance, which could
be readily closed with a portable door. An opening was also left
at the top for the escape of the smoke, a fire being kindled in
the center inside.

[Illustration: _Drawing by Jorgensen_.
This style of house, made of cedar poles covered with bark, is
more easily heated than any other form of dwelling known.]

One of these huts would hold a family of a half-dozen persons,
with all their household property, dogs included; and there is
no other form of a single-room dwelling that can be kept warm
and comfortable in cold weather with so little fire, as this
Indian _o´-chum._

Their under-bedding usually consisted of the skins of bears,
deer, antelope or elk, and the top covering was a blanket or robe
made of the skins of small fur-bearing animals, such as rabbits,
hares, wildcats and foxes. The skins were cut in narrow strips,
which were loosely twisted so as to bring the fur entirely around
on the outside, and then woven into a warp of strong twine made
of the fine, tough, fibrous bark of a variety of milkweed
(_Asclepias speciosa_). These fur robes were very warm, and were
also used as wraps when traveling in cold weather.

During the warm summer season they generally lived outside in
brush arbors, and used their _o´-chums_ as storage places.


Their clothing was very simple and scant, before being initiated
into the use of a more ample and complete style of covering while
living at the reservations. The ordinary full complement of dress
for a man (_Nung´-ah_) was simply a breech-clout, or short
hip-skirt made of skins; that for a woman (_O´-hoh_) was a
skirt reaching from the waist to the knees, made of dressed
deerskin finished at the bottom with a slit fringe, and sometimes
decorated with various fancy ornaments. Both men and women
frequently wore moccasins made of dressed deer or elk skin. Young
children generally went entirely nude.

[Illustration: _Drawing by Jorgensen_.
This buckskin costume has now been replaced by the unpicturesque
calico of civilization.]


The Indians of the various tribes in this part of the Sierras
vary somewhat in physical characteristics, but in general are of
medium height, strong, lean and agile, and the men are usually
fine specimens of manhood. They are rather light in color, but
frequently rub their bodies with some kind of oil, which gives
the flesh a much redder and more glossy appearance. The hair is
black and straight, and the eyes are black and deep set. The
beard is sparse, and in former times was not allowed to grow at
all, each hair being pulled out with a rude kind of tweezers.
They are naturally of a gentle and friendly disposition, but
their experience with the white race has made them distant and
uncommunicative to strangers.

Most of the older Indians still cling to their old customs and
manner of living, and are very slow to learn or talk our
language, but the younger ones are striving to live like the
white people, and seem proud to adopt our style of dress and
manner of cooking. They all speak our language plainly, and some
few of them attend the public schools when living near by, and
acquire very readily the common rudiments of an education.

Their style of architecture is in a state of transition, like
themselves. Their old _o´-chum_ form of dwelling is now very
seldom seen--a rude building of more roomy and modern design
having taken its place.

All the able-bodied men are ready and willing to work at any kind
of common labor, when they have an opportunity, and have learned
to want nearly the same amount of pay as a white man for the same

As a rule, they are trustworthy, and when confidence is placed in
their honesty it is very rarely betrayed. During nearly the past
fifty years, a great many thousands of people have visited the
Yosemite Valley with their own camping outfits, and, during the
day, and often all night, are absent on distant trips of
observation, with no one left in charge of camp, yet there has
never to my knowledge been an instance of anything being stolen
or molested by Indians. There are, however, some dishonest
Indians, who will steal from their own people, and some times,
when a long distance from their own camp, they may steal from the
whites. A few, if they can get whisky, through the aid of some
white person, will become drunk and fight among themselves, and
occasionally one of them may be killed; but, as a rule, they are
peaceful and orderly, and hold sacred the promise made to the
Indian Commissioners by the old tribal chiefs, when released from
confinement on the reservations, that they would forever keep the
peace, and never again make war against the white people.

Chapter Four.


The food supply of the Sierra Indians was extensive and abundant,
consisting of the flesh of deer, antelope, elk and mustang
horses, together with fish, water-fowls, birds, acorns, berries,
pine nuts, esculent herbage and the tuberous roots of certain
plants, all of which were easily obtained, even with their simple
and limited means of securing them. Mushrooms, fungi,
grasshoppers, worms and the larvae of ants and other insects,
were also eaten, and some of these articles were considered great


Their main effective weapons for hunting large game were their
bows and obsidian-pointed arrows. Their manner of hunting was
either by the stealthy still hunt, or a general turn-out,
surrounding a large area of favorable country and driving to a
common center, where at close range the hunters could sometimes
make an extensive slaughter.

[Illustration: _Drawing by Jorgensen._
He wears a false deer's head, to deceive the game.]

When on the still hunt for deer in the brushy, sparsely timbered
foothills of the Sierra Range of mountains, or higher up in the
extensive forests, some of the hunters wore for a headgear a
false deer's head, by which deceptive device they were enabled to
get to a closer and more effective range with their bows and
arrows. This head-dress was made of the whole skin of a doe's
head, with a part of the neck, the head part stuffed with light
material, the eyeholes filled in with the green feathered scalp
of a duck's head, and the top furnished with light wooden horns,
the branching stems of the manzanita (_Arctostaphylos_) being
generally used for this purpose. The neck part was made to fit on
the hunter's head and fasten with strings tied under the chin.
This unique style of headgear was used by some Indian hunters for
many years after they had guns to hunt with.

[Illustration: _Drawing by Jorgensen_
Used by the Yosemite hunters before starting after game.]

The high ranges of the mountains, as already stated, were
considered common hunting ground by the different tribes. The
deer, many of them, were in some degree migratory in their
habits, being driven from the higher ranges to the foothills by
the deep winter snows, and in the spring following close to the
melting, receding snow, back again to their favorite summer

Late in the summer, or early in the fall, just before holding
some of their grand social or sacred festivals, the Indian
hunters would make preparation for a big hunt in the mountains,
to get a good supply of venison for the feast. One of the first
absolute prerequisites was to go through a thorough course of
sweating and personal cleansing. This was done by resorting to
their sweat houses, which were similar in construction to the
_o´-chums_, except that the top was rounded and the whole
structure was covered thickly with mud and earth to exclude the
air. These houses were heated with hot stones and coals of fire,
and the hunters would then crawl into them and remain until in a
profuse perspiration, when they would come out and plunge into
cold water for a wash-off. This was repeated until they thought
themselves sufficiently free from all bodily odor so that the
deer could not detect their approach by scent, and flee for

After this purification they kept themselves strictly as
celibates until the hunt was over, though their women went along
to help carry the outfit, keep camp, cook, search for berries and
pine nuts, and assist in bringing to camp and taking care of the
deer as killed, and in "packing" the meat out to the place of
rendezvous appointed for the grand ceremonies and feast.

Their usual manner of cooking fresh meat was by broiling on hot
coals, or roasting before the fire or in the embers. Sometimes,
however, they made a cavity in the ground, in which they built a
fire, which was afterwards cleared away and the cavity lined with
very hot stones, on which they placed the meat wrapped in green
herbage, and covered it with other hot rocks and earth, to remain
until suitably cooked.

When they had a surplus of fresh meat they cut it in strips and
hung it in the sun-shine to dry. The dried meat was generally
cooked by roasting in hot embers, and then beaten to soften it
before being eaten.

A young hunter never ate any of the first deer he killed, as he
believed that if he did so he would never succeed in killing


They had various methods of catching fish--with hook and line,
with a spear, by weir-traps in the stream, and by saturating the
water with the juice of the soap-root plant (_Chlorogalum
pomeridianum_). Before they could obtain fishhooks of modern
make, they made them of bone. Their lines were made of the tough,
fibrous, silken bark of the variety of milkweed or silkweed,
already mentioned. Their spears were small poles pointed with a
single tine of bone, which was so arranged that it became
detached by the struggles of the fish, and was then held by a
string fastened near its center, which turned it crosswise of the
wound and made it act as an effective barb.

Their weir-traps were put in the rapids, and constructed by
building wing dams diagonally down to the middle of the stream
until the two ends came near together, and in this narrow outlet
was placed a sort of wicker basket trap, made of long willow
sprouts loosely woven together and closed at the pointed lower
end, which was elevated above the surface of the water below the
dam. The fish, in going down stream, ran into this trap, and soon
found themselves at the lower end and out of the water.

The soap-root was used at a low stage of water, late in summer.
They dug several bushels of the bulbous roots and went to a
suitable place on the bank, where the roots were pounded into a
pulp, and mixed with soil and water. This mixture, by the
handful, was then rubbed on rocks out in the stream, which roiled
the water and also made it somewhat foamy. The fish were soon
affected by it, became stupid with a sort of strangulation, and
rose to the surface, where they were easily captured by the
Indians with their scoop baskets. In a stream the size of the
South Fork of the Merced River at Wawona, by this one operation
every fish in it for a distance of three miles would be taken in
a few hours.

The fish were generally cooked by roasting on hot coals from
burned oak wood or bark.


Acorns were their main staple article of breadstuff, and they are
still used by the present generation whenever they can be

[Illustration: _Drawing by Mrs. Jorgensen._
Storehouse for nuts and acorns, thatched with pine branches,
points downward, to keep out mice and squirrels.]

They are gathered in the fall when ripe and are preserved for
future use in the old style Indian _cache_ or storehouse. This
consists of a structure which they call a _chuck´-ah_, which is
a large basket-shaped receptacle made of long willow sprouts
closely woven together. It is usually about six feet high and
three feet in diameter. It is set upon stout posts about three
feet high and supported in position by four longer posts on the
outside, reaching to the top, and there bound firmly to keep them
from spreading. The outside of the basket is thatched with small
pine branches, points downward, to shed the rain and snow, and to
protect the contents from the depredations of squirrels and
woodpeckers. When filled, the top also is securely covered with
bark, as a protection from the winter storms. When the acorns are
wanted for use, a small hole is made at the bottom of the
_chuck´-ah_, and they are taken out from time to time as

The acorns from the black or Kellogg's oak (_Quercus
Californica_) are considered much the best and most nutritious
by the Indians. This is the oak which is so beautiful and
abundant in the Yosemite Valley.

These acorns are quite bitter, and are not eaten in their natural
condition, as most fruit and nuts are eaten, but have to be quite
elaborately prepared and cooked to make them palatable. First,
the hull is cracked and removed, and the kernel pounded or ground
into a fine meal. In the Yosemite Valley and at other Indian
camps in the mountains, this is done by grinding with their stone
pestles or _metats (may-tat´s)_ in the _ho´yas_ or mortars,
worn by long usage in large flat-top granite rocks, one of which
is near every Indian camp. Lower down in the foothills, where
there are no suitable large rocks for these permanent mortars,
the Indians used single portable stone mortars for this purpose.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_.
Rude mortars and pestles for grinding acorn meal. The holes have
been worn in the granite by constant use.]

After the acorns are ground to a fine meal, the next process is
to take out the bitter tannin principle. This is done in the
following manner: They make large shallow basins in clean washed
sand, in the center of which are laid a few flat, fan-like ends
of fir branches. A fire is then made near by, and small stones
of four or five pounds in weight are heated, with which they warm
water in some of their large cooking baskets, and mix the acorn
meal with it to the consistency of thin gruel. This mixture is
poured into the sand basins, and as the water leaches out into
the sand it takes with it the bitter quality--the warm water
being renewed until all the bitter taste is washed out from the
meal sediment, or dough.

This is then taken, and, after being cleansed from the adhering
sand, is put into cooking baskets, thinned down with hot water to
the desired condition, and cooked by means of hot stones which
are held in it with two sticks for tongs. The mush, while
cooking, is stirred with a peculiar stirring stick, made of a
tough oak sprout, doubled so as to form a round, open loop at one
end, which is used in lifting out any loose stones. When the
dough is well cooked, it is either left _en masse_ in the basket
or scooped out in rolls and put into cold water to cool and
warden before being eaten. Sometimes the thick paste is made into
cakes and baked on hot rocks. One of these cakes, when rolled in
paper, will in a short time saturate it with oil. This acorn
food is probably more nutritious than any of the cereals.


The Indian dogs, of which every family had several, are as fond
of the acorn food as their owners. These dogs are made useful in
treeing wild-cats, California lions and gray squirrels, and are
very expert in catching ground squirrels by intercepting them
when away from their burrows, and when the Indians drown them out
in the early spring by turning water from the flooded streams
into their holes.

As far as can be learned, dogs were about the only domestic
animals which the Yosemites, and other adjacent tribes of
Indians, kept for use before the country was settled by the white


Pine nuts were another important article of food, and were much
prized by the Indians. They are very palatable and nutritious,
and are also greatly relished by white people whenever they can
be obtained. The seeds of the Digger or nut pine (_Pinus
Sabiniana_) were the ones most used on the western side of the
Sierras, although the seeds of the sugar pine (_P. Lambertiana_)
were also sometimes eaten. On account of their soft shell, nuts
from the pinon pine (_P. monophylla_), which grows principally on
the eastern side of the mountains, were considered superior to
either of the other kinds, and were an important article of
barter with the tribes of that region. All of these trees are
very prolific, and their crop of nuts in fruitful years has been
estimated to be even greater than the enormous wheat crop of
California, although of course but a very small portion of it is
ever gathered. Many other kinds of nuts and seeds were also

The principal berries used by the Indians of Yosemite and tribes
lower down in the foothills were those of the manzanita
(_Arctostaphylos glauca_). They are about the size of
huckleberries, of a light brown color, and when ripe have the
flavor of dried apples. They are used for eating, and also to
make a kind of cider for drinking, and for mixing with some food
preparations. Manzanita is the Spanish for "little apple," and
this shrub, with its rich red bark and pale green foliage, is
perhaps the most beautiful and most widely distributed in
California. Strawberries, black raspberries, elderberries, wild
cherries and the fruit of the Sierra plum (_Prunus subcordata_)
are also used by the Indians, but wild edible berries are not as
plentiful in California as they are in the Atlantic States.


In addition to the staple articles of food already mentioned,
many other things were eaten when they could be obtained. These
included grasshoppers, certain kinds of large tree worms, the
white fungi which grows upon the oak, mushrooms, and the larvae
and pupae of ants and other insects. The pupae of a certain kind
of fly which breeds extensively on the shores of Mono Lake, about
forty miles from Yosemite, was an important article of commerce
across the mountains, and was made into a kind of paste called
_ka-cha´-vee_, which is still much relished by the Indians, and
is a prominent dish at their feasts.

The manner of catching grasshoppers was to dig a large hole,
somewhat in the shape of a fly trap, with the bottom larger
than the opening at the top, so that the insects could not
readily get out of it. This hole was dug in the center of a
meadow, which was then surrounded by Indians armed with small
boughs, who beat the grasshoppers towards a common center and
drove them into the trap. A fire was then kindled on top of them,
and after they had been well roasted they were gathered up and
stored for future use.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_.
As in all Indian tribes, the women do most of the work.]

Other articles of food were various kinds of roots, grasses and
herbage, some of which were cooked, while others were eaten in
their natural condition. The lupine (_Lupinus bicolor_ and other
species), whose brilliant flowers are such a beautiful feature of
all the mountain meadows in the spring and summer, was a favorite
plant for making what white people would call "greens," and when
eaten was frequently moistened with some of the manzanita cider
already referred to. Among the roots used for food were those of
the wild caraway (_Carum_), wild hyacinth (_Brodioea_), sorrel
(_Oxalis_), and camass (_Camassia esculenta_).

Chapter Five


The Indians of this region, in common with most, if not all, of
the North American aborigines, were of a highly religious
temperament, most devout in their beliefs and observances, and
easily wrought upon by the priests or medicine men of their
tribes. Elaborate ceremonies were carried out, in which all of
the details were highly symbolical, and some of their curious and
picturesque superstitions were responsible for acts of cruelty
and vengeance, which in many cases were foreign to their natural


Dancing was an important part of all religious observances, and
was practiced purely as a ceremonial, and never for pleasure or
recreation. Both men and women took part, the men executing a
peculiar shuffling step which involved a great deal of stamping
upon the ground with their bare feet, and the women performing a
curious sideways, swaying motion. Some of the dancers carried
wands or arrows, and indulged in wild gesticulations. They
usually circled slowly around a fire, and danced to the point of
exhaustion, when others would immediately take their places. The
ceremony was accompanied by the beating of rude drums, and by a
monotonous chant, which was joined in by all the dancers.

The great occasions for dancing were before going to war, and
when cremating the bodies of their dead. The war dance was
probably the most elaborate in costume and other details, and of
recent years the Indians have sometimes given public exhibitions
of what purported to be war dances, but these performances, like
everything else which they do from purely mercenary motives, are
very poor imitations of the originals, and it is doubtful if they
have ever allowed a genuine war dance to be witnessed by white


The various tribes in the vicinity of Yosemite Valley are
accustomed to hold a great meeting or festival once a year, each
tribe taking its turn as hosts, and the others sometimes coming
from considerable distances. At these meetings there are dances
and other ceremonials, and also a grand feast, for which
extensive preparations are made. Another feature of the occasion
is the presentation of gifts to the visiting tribes, consisting
of money, blankets, clothing, baskets, bead-work, or other
valuable articles. These presents, or their equivalent, no matter
how small they may be, are always returned to the givers at the
next annual festival, together with additional gifts, which, in
turn, must be given back the following year, and so on.

At these gatherings an Indian is appointed to secure and keep on
hand a good supply of wood for the camp fires, and every day he
spreads a blanket on the ground and sits on it, and the other
Indians throw money, clothing, or other contributions, into the
blanket, to pay him and his assistants for their services. At
other times this man acts as a messenger or news carrier--first
spreading his blanket to collect his fees, and then starting off
on his mission.


Many of the Indians in Mariposa and adjoining counties were
polygamists, having two or three, and sometimes more, wives. Some
of the chiefs and head men would have wives from several of the
adjacent tribes, which had a tendency to establish permanent
friendly relations among them.

Every man who took a young woman for his wife had to buy her.
Young women were considered by their parents as personal
chattels, subject to sale to the highest suitable bidder, and the
payment of the price constituted the main part of the marriage
ceremony. The wife was then the personal property of the husband,
which he might sell or gamble away if he wished; but such
instances were said to be very rare. In case negotiations for a
marriage fell through, the preliminary payments were scrupulously
returned to the rejected suitor by the parents.

Even a widow, independent of control in the matter of marriage,
if she consented to become a man's wife, received some
compensation herself from her intended husband.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Dore_.
The babies are tied to their baskets to make them straight, and
keep them out of mischief.]

It is said that in their marital relations they were as a rule
strictly faithful to each other. If the woman was found to be
guilty of unfaithfulness to her husband, the penalty was death.
Such a thing as a man whipping or beating his wife was never
known. Whipping under any circumstances was considered a more
humiliating and disgraceful punishment than death.

Even in the management of children, whipping was never resorted
to as punishment for disobedience. In fact, children were always
treated in such a kind, patient, loving manner, that disobedience
was a fault rarely known. The pre-natal maternal influence, and
subsequent treatment after birth, were such that they were
naturally patient and readily submissive to kind parental

In recent years, under the influence and examples often seen in
what is called civilized life, Indian husbands have been known to
beat their wives, and mothers to whip their children.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Boysen_.
The canopy of the baby basket is called Cho-ko´-ni and the
Royal Arches, from their resemblance to it, have also received
this name from the Indians.]


At the time of the settlement of California by the whites, every
Indian tribe had its professional doctors or medicine men, who
also acted as religious leaders. They were the confidential
counselors of the chiefs and head-men of the tribes, and had
great influence and control over the people. They claimed to be
spiritual mediums, and to have communication with the departed
spirits of some of their old and most revered chieftains and dear
friends, now in a much more happy condition than when here in
earthly life. They were thought to be endowed with supernatural
powers, not only in curing all diseases (except those due to old
age), but also in making a well person sick at their pleasure,
even at a distance; but when their sorcery failed to work on
their white enemies and exterminate them, they lost the
confidence of their followers to a large extent.

With the invasion of the white settlers came forced changes in
their old customs and manner of living, and a new variety of
epidemic and other diseases. When a doctor failed to cure these
diseases, and several deaths occurred in quick succession in a
camp, they believed the doctor was under the control of some evil
spirit, and killed him.

After the Indians were given their freedom from the reservations
in 1855, the old ones, subdued and broken-hearted, sickened and
died very fast, and most of the men doctors were killed off in a
few years. There are none known who now attempt to act in that

There are still some women doctors who continue to practice the
magic art, but as there are now but very few Indians, there is
not so much sickness, and very few deaths in a year, so that the
doctors very rarely forfeit their lives by many of their patients
dying in quick succession.

Their most common mode of treatment in cases of sickness was to
scarify the painful locality with the sharp edge of a piece of
obsidian, and suck out the blood with the mouth. In cases of
headache, the forehead was operated on; in a case of colic the
abdomen was treated in the same way, as were also all painful
swellings on any part of the body.

The grand object of the doctor was to make the patient and
family firmly believe that his course of treatment was removing
the cause of the sickness. To aid in strengthening this belief,
after diagnosing the case, and before commencing operations, he
would quietly retire for a short time, ostensibly to get under
the influence of the divine healing spirit, but in reality to
fill his mouth with several small articles, such as bits of wood
or stone; he was then ready to commence treatment. After sucking
and spitting pure blood a few times, he began to spit out with
the blood, one after another, the things he had in his mouth, at
the sight of which all the attendants would join in a chorus of
grunts of astonishment, and the doctor would pretend to be very
much nauseated. In most ordinary cases two or three treatments
effected a cure.

The doctors also made use of certain rare medicinal plants in
treating some diseases. The Indian women have great faith in
charms made of the pungent roots of some rare plants from the
high mountain ranges, which they wear on strings around their
necks, or on a string of beads, to protect them from sickness.

In cases of malignant sores or ulcers on any part of the body,
the doctors treated them by applying dirt or earth, and in warm
weather would excavate a place in the ground and put the patient
in it, either in a sitting or recumbent position, as the nature
of the case required, and cover the affected part with earth for
several hours, daily. Sometimes, by this mode of treatment,
wonderful cures were made.

In all cases, if a doctor failed to cure a disease, and the
patient died, he was obliged to refund to the relatives any fee
which he had received for his services.


In the early days of the settlement of California, it seemed to
be the universal custom of the Indians along the foothills of the
Sierra Nevada range of mountains to burn the bodies of their

A suitable pile of readily combustible wood was prepared. The
body was taken charge of by persons chosen to perform the last
sacred rites, and firmly bound in skins or blankets, and then
placed upon the funeral pyre, with all the personal effects of
the deceased, together with numerous votive offerings from
friends and relatives. The chief mourners of the occasion seemed
to take but little active part in the ceremonies. When all was
ready, one of the assistants would light the fire, and the
terrible, wailing, mournful cry would commence, and the
professional chanters, with peculiar sidling movements and
frantic gestures, would circle round and round about the burning
pile. Occasionally, on arriving at the northwest corner of the
pile, they would stop, and, pointing to the West, would end a
crying refrain by exclaiming "_Him-i-la´-ha!_" When these
became exhausted, others would step in and take their places, and
thus keep up the mournful ceremony until the whole pile was

After the pile had cooled, the charred bones and ashes were
gathered up, a few pieces of bone selected, and the remainder
buried. Of the pieces retained, some would be sent to distant
relatives, and the others pounded to a fine powder, then mixed
with pine pitch and plastered on the faces of the nearest female
relatives as a badge of mourning, to be kept there until it
naturally wore off. Every Indian camp used to have some of these
hideous looking old women in it in the "early days."

One principal reason for burning the bodies of the dead was the
belief that there is an evil spirit, waiting and watching for the
animating spirit or soul to leave the body, that he may get it to
take to his own world of darkness and misery. By burning the
perishable body they thought that the immortal soul would be more
quickly released and set free to speed to the happy spirit world
in the _El-o´-win_, or far distant West, while with their loud,
wailing cries the evil spirit was kept away.

The young women take great care of their long, shiny, black hair,
of which they all feel very proud, as adding much to their
personal beauty, and they seldom have it cut before marriage. But
upon the death of a husband the wife has her hair all cut off and
burned with his body, so that he may still have it in his future
spirit home, to love and caress as a memento of his living

[Illustration: _Photograph by Boysen_.
One of the oldest Indians in the Valley. The short hair is a
badge of widowhood.]

These Indians believe that everything on earth, both natural and
artificial, is endowed with an immortal spirit, which is
indestructible, and that whatever personal property or precious
gifts are burned, either with the body or in later years for the
departed friend's benefit, will be received and made use of in
the spirit world. In recent years the Yosemites and other
remnants of tribes closely associated with them, have adopted the
custom of the white people, and bury their dead. The fine,
expensive blankets, and most beautifully worked baskets, which
have been kept sacredly in hiding for many years, to be buried
with the owner, are now cut into small fragments before being
deposited in the ground, for fear some white person will
desecrate the grave by digging them up and carrying them away.

There are no people in the world who more reverence for their
dead, or hold memory more sacred, than these so-called "Digger"
Indians. After being released from the reservations they kept
themselves in abject poverty for many sacrificing their best
blankets, baskets and clothing in the devouring flames of a fire
kindled for that purpose, when holding their annual mourning
festivals in memory of their dead friends.


The old Indians are all very reticent regarding their religious
beliefs. They hold them too sacred to be exposed to possible
ridicule, and it is therefore very difficult to get information
from them by direct questions.

They seem, however, to have a vague, indistinct belief or
tradition that their original ancestors, in the long forgotten
past, dwelt in a better and much more desirable country than
this, in the _El-o´-win_, or distant West, and that by some
misfortune or great calamity they were separated from that nappy
land, and became wanderers in this part of the world. They also
believe that the spirits of all good Indians will be permitted,
after death, to go back to that happy country of their ancestors'
origin; but that the spirits of bad Indians have to serve another
earth life in the form of a grizzly bear, as a punishment for
their former crimes. Hence, no Indians ever eat bear meat if
they know it.

All the old Indians are spiritualists, and very superstitious in
their religious beliefs. One special tenet is that if one of
their relatives or friends has been murdered, he will not receive
them on terms of friendship in the spirit world unless they
revenge his death, by either killing the murderer or some one of
the same blood. This belief sometimes results in an entirely
innocent person being put to death.

They all have a great fear of evil spirits, which they believe
have the power to do them much harm and defeat their
undertakings. They also have a fairly distinct idea of a Diety or
Great Spirit, who never does them any harm, and whose home is in
the happy land of their ancestors in the West.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Boysen_.
The Ellen Boysen collection of baskets and bead work.]

Chapter Six


The Yosemites and other kindred or adjacent tribes have been
branded as "Diggers," and are generally thought to be the lowest
class of Indians in America, but in some lines of artistic work
they excelled all other tribes. For example, their basketry work,
for domestic and sacred purposes, and their bows and arrows, were
of very superior workmanship and fine finish.


Many years ago the chief industry of the Indian women, aside from
their other domestic duties, was the making of baskets. They made
a great variety of shapes and sizes for their common use, and
also many of a more artistic design and finer finish for the
sacred purpose of being burned or buried with their bodies, or
that of some relative or dear friend, after death. The baskets
devoted to this special purpose are the finest made, but are very
seldom seen by any white person, and are not for sale at any
price. This finest style of work seems to have been made a
specialty by certain of the most artistic workers in each tribe.

For the mythical origin of basket-making in the Yosemite see
"Legend of To-tau-kon-nu´-la and Tis-sa´-ack."]

At the present time, in their more modern style of living, they
do not require so many baskets, and the industry of making them
is fast on the decline. Some of the old women, however, still
continue to make such as are required for their own use, and a
few others for sale.

Most of the ornamental figures and designs worked into the finest
basketry are symbolical in character, and of so ancient an origin
that Indians of the present day do not know what many of them are
intended to represent. They have simply been copied from time
immemorial, with the idea that they were necessary for the
complete finish and beauty of the article made.

In recent years they sometimes make use of more modern styles of
ornamentation, which they see in print.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_.
Mrs. George Fiske's collection of Yosemite and Pai-ute´ bead

Many of the young women are now giving their attention to making
fancy bead work, in the form of ornamental belts and hat-bands,
but this is an industry of very modern origin. Some of them are
employed by white people to do laundry and other work, and any
labor of this kind pays them better than making baskets for sale.
Forty years ago a finely made basket could have been bought for
less than ten dollars. At present, if the time spent in getting
and preparing the necessary materials, and in working them into
the basket, were paid for at the same rate per day that a young
woman receives for doing washing in the hotel laundry, or for
private families, it would amount to over one hundred dollars.

Most of the baskets made for domestic use are so closely woven
that they are practically water-tight, and are used for cooking
and similar purposes. Over on the eastern side of the Sierra
Nevada Mountains, near the dry, desert country, the Indians make
some of their baskets in the form of jugs of various sizes. These
are smeared over with a pitch composition, which renders them
perfectly water-tight, and they are used for carrying water when
traveling over those desolate, sandy wastes.


The Indian men showed no less ingenuity artistic skill in their
special lines of work than the women, especially in manufacture
of their bows and arrows, in the making of fish lines and coarser
twine out of the soft, flexible bark of the milkweed (_Asclepias
speciosa_), and in making other useful implements and utensils
with the very limited means at their disposal.

Their bows were made of a branch of the incense cedar
(_Libocedrus decurrens_), or of the California nutmeg (_Tumion
Californicum [Torreya])_, made flat on the outer side, and
rounded smooth on the inner or concave side when the bow is
strung for use. The flat, outer side was covered with sinew,
usually that from the leg of a deer, steeped in hot water until
it became soft and glutinous, and then laid evenly and smoothly
over the wood, and so shaped at the ends as to hold the string in
place. When thoroughly dry the sinew contracted, so that the bow
when not strung was concave on the outer side.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Boysen._
She is weaving a burden basket. The one to the left is for
cooking, and a baby basket stands against the tent.]

When not in use the bow was always left unstrung. To string it
for use, it was necessary in cold weather to warm it, thus making
it more elastic and easily bent. The best strings were also
made of sinew, or of pax-wax cartilage, for their finest bows.

The arrows were made of reeds and various kinds of wood,
including the syringa (_Philadelphus Lewisii_) and a small shrub
or tree which the Indians called _Le-ham´-i-tee,_ or
arrow-wood, and which grew quite plentifully in what is now known
as Indian Canyon, near the Yosemite Falls.

The finest arrows were furnished with points made of obsidian, or
volcanic glass, which was obtained in the vicinity of Mono Lake
on the eastern side of the Sierras. It required great care and
delicate skill to work this brittle material into the fine sharp
points, and the making of them seemed to be a special business or
trade with some of the old men. Arrows furnished with these
points were only used in hunting large game, or in hostile combat
with enemies; for common use, in hunting small game, the hard
wooden arrow was merely sharpened to a point.

The butt, or end used on the string, was furnished with three or
four short strips of feathers taken from a hawk's wing, and
fastened on lengthwise. These strips of feathers are supposed to
aid in the more accurate flight of the arrow when shot from the

When out on a hunt the Indian carried his bow strung ready for
use, and his bundle of assorted arrows in a quiver made of the
skin of a small fox, wild-cat or fisher, hung conveniently over
his shoulder.

These primitive weapons, which were in universal use by the
Yosemite Indians fifty years ago, are now never seen except in
some collection of Indian relics and curios.

Other articles manufactured by these tribes were stone hammers,
and also others made from the points of deer horns mounted on
wooden handles, which they used in delicately chipping the
brittle obsidian in forming arrowheads. Rude musical instruments,
principally drums and flageolets, were also made.

Chapter Seven.


The Indians of the Yosemite Valley and vicinity have a great fund
of mythological lore, which has been handed down verbally from
generation to generation for hundreds of years, but they are very
reluctant to speak of these legends to white people, and it is
extremely difficult to get reliable information on the subject.
Moreover, the Indians most familiar with them have not a
sufficient knowledge of the English language to be able to
express their ideas clearly.

Many Yosemite legends have been published at different times and
in various forms, and it is probable that most of them have had
at least a foundation in real Indian myths, but many are
obviously fanciful in some particulars, and it is impossible to
tell how much is of Indian origin and how much is due to poetic
embellishment. When asked about some of these legends, many years
ago, one of the old Yosemite Indians remarked contemptuously,
"White man too much lie."

On the other hand, red men as well as white men are sometimes
given to romancing, and I have known of cases where "legends"
would be manufactured on the spur of the moment by some young
Indian to satisfy an importunate and credulous questioner, to the
keen but suppressed amusement of other Indians present.

It will therefore be seen that this subject is surrounded with
some difficulty, and it must not be understood that the legends
here given are vouched for as of wholly Indian origin. Some of
them, notably those of the Tul-tok´-a-na and the second legend
of Tis-sa´-ack, have been accepted by eminent ethnologists, and
are believed to be purely aboriginal, while others have doubtless
been somewhat idealized in translation and in the course of
numerous repetitions.

The legend of To-tau-kon-nu´-la and Tis-sa´-ack is made up of
fragments of mythological lore obtained from a number of old
Indians at various times during the past fifty years. It varies
somewhat from other legends which have been published regarding
these same characters, but it is well known that the Indians
living in Yosemite in recent years are of mixed tribal origin and
do not all agree as to the traditional history of the region, nor
the names of the prominent scenic features, nor even of the
Valley itself. And this largely accounts for the fact that some
of the legends do not harmonize with each other in details or in
sentiment. All of them, however, are picturesque, and they
certainly give an added interest to the natural beauties and
wonders with which they are associated.


Innumerable moons and snows have passed since the Great Spirit
guided a little band of his favorite children into the beautiful
vale of Ah-wah´-nee [Yosemite Valley], and bid them stop and
rest from their long and weary wanderings, which had lasted ever
since they had been separated by the great waters from the happy
land of their forefathers in the far distant _El-o´-win_

Here they found food in abundance for all. The rivers gave them
plenty of _la-pe´-si_ (trout). They found in the meadows sweet
_ha´-ker_ (clover), and sour _yu-yu-yu-mah_ (oxalis) for spring
medicine, and sweet _toon´-gy_ and other edible roots in
abundance. The trees and bushes yielded acorns, pine nuts, fruits
and berries. In the forests were herds of _he´-ker_ (deer) and
other animals, which gave meat for food and skins for clothing
and beds. And here they lived and multiplied, and, as instructed
by their medicine men, worshipped the Great Spirit which gave
them life, and the sun which warmed and made them happy.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Boysen_.
Daughter of Captain John, one of the last Chiefs of the

They also kept in memory the happy land of their forefathers. The
story was told by the old people to the young, and they again
told it to their children from generation to generation, and they
all believed that after death their spirits would return to dwell
forever in that distant country.

They prospered and built other towns outside of Ah-wah´-nee,
and became a great nation. They learned wisdom by experience and
by observing how the Great Spirit taught the animals and insects
to live, and they believed that their children could absorb the
cunning of the wild creatures. And so the young son of their
chieftain was made to sleep in the skins of the beaver and
coyote, that he might grow wise in building, and keen of scent in
following game. On some days he was fed with _la-pe´-si_ that
he might become a good swimmer, and on other days the eggs of the
great _to-tau´-kon_ (crane) were his food, that he might grow
tall and keen of sight, and have a clear, ringing voice. He was
also fed on the flesh of the _he´-ker_ that he might be fleet
of foot, and on that of the great _yo-sem´-i-te_ (grizzly bear)
to make him powerful in combat.

And the little boy grew up and became a great and wise chieftain,
and he was also a rain wizard, and brought timely rains for the

As was the custom in giving names to all Indians, his name was
changed from time to time, as his character developed, until he
was called Choo´-too-se-ka´, meaning the Supreme Good. His
grand _o-chum_ (house) was built at the base of the great rock
called To-tau-kon-nu´-la [El Capitan], because the great
_to-tau´-kons_ made their nests and raised their young in a
meadow at its summit, and their loud ringing cries resounded over
the whole Valley.

As the moons and snows passed, this great rock and all the great
rocky walls around the Valley grew in height, and the hills
became high mountains.

After a time Choo´-too-se-ka´ built himself a great palace
_o´-chum_ on the summit of the rock To-tau-kon-nu´-la, and
had his great chair of state a little west of his palace, where
on all festival occasions he could overlook and talk to the great
multitude below; and the remains of this chair are still to be

Choo´-too-se-ka´ was then named To-tau-kon-nu´-la, because
he had built his _o´-chum_ on the summit of the great rock and
taken the place of the _to-tau´-kons_. He had no wife, but all
the women served him in his domestic needs, as he was their great
chief, and his wishes were paramount. The many valuable donations
which he received from his people at the great annual festivals
made him wealthy beyond all personal wants, and he gave freely to
the needy.

One day, while standing on the top of the great dome [Sentinel
Dome] above the south wall of the Valley, watching the great
herds of deer, he saw some strange people approaching, bearing
heavy burdens. They were fairer of skin, and their clothing was
different from that of his people, and when they drew near he
asked them who they were and whence they came.

And a woman replied, "I am Tis-sa´-ack, and these are some of
my people. We come from _cat´-tan chu´-much_ (far South). I
have heard of your great wisdom and goodness, and have come to
see you and your people. We bring you presents of many fine
baskets, and beads of many colors, as tokens of our friendship.
When we have rested and seen your people and beautiful valley we
will return to our home."

[Illustration: _Photograph by Foley_
HALF DOME (TIS-SA´-ACK). 5,000 Feet.
Named for a woman in Indian mythology who was turned to stone for
quarreling with her husband. See "Legend of Tis-sa´-ack."]

To-tau-kon-nu´-la was much pleased with his fair visitor, and
built a large _o´-chum_ for her and her companions on the
summit of the great dome at the east end of the Valley [Half
Dome], and this dome still retains her name.

And she tarried there and taught the women of Ah-wah´-nee how
to make the beautiful baskets which they still make at the
present day; and To-tau-kon-nu´-la visited her daily, and
became charmed with her loveliness, and wanted her to remain and
be his wife, but she denied him, saying, "I must return to my
people," and, when he still persisted, she left her _o´-chum_
in the night and was never seen again. And the love-stricken
chieftain forgot his people, and went in search of her, and they
waited many moons for his return and mourned his long absence,
but they never saw him more.

This was the beginning of a series of calamities which nearly
destroyed the great tribe of Ah-wah-nee´-chees. First a great
drouth prevailed, and the crops failed, and the streams of water
dried up. The deer went wild and wandered away. Then a dark cloud
of smoke arose in the East and obscured the sun, so that it gave
no heat, and many of the people perished from cold and hunger.
Then the earth shook terribly and groaned with great pain, and
enormous rocks fell from the walls around Ah-wah´-nee. The
great dome called Tis-sa´-ack was burst asunder, and half of it
fell into the Valley. A fire burst out of the earth in the East,
and the _ca´-lah_ (snow) on the sky mountains was changed to
water, which flowed down and formed the Lake Ah-wei´-yah
[Mirror Lake]. And all the streams were filled to overflowing,
and still the waters rose, and there was a great flood, so that a
large part of the Valley became a lake, and many persons were

After a time the Great Spirit took pity on his children, and the
dark cloud of smoke disappeared, the sun warmed the Valley again
into new life, and the few people who were left had plenty of
food once more.

Many moons afterwards there appeared on the face of the great
rock To-tau-kon-nu´-la the figure of a man in a flowing robe,
and with one hand extended toward the West, in which direction he
appears to be traveling. This figure was interpreted to be the
picture of the great lost Chieftain, indicating that he had gone
to the "happy hunting grounds" of his ancestors, and it is looked
upon with great veneration and awe by the few Indians still
living in Yosemite. At about the same time the face of the
beautiful Tis-sa´-ack appeared on the great flat side of the
dome which bears her name, and the Indians recognized her by the
way in which her dark hair was cut straight across her forehead
and fell down at the sides, which was then considered among the
Yosemites as the acme of feminine beauty, and is so regarded to
this day.


Tis-sa´-ack and her husband traveled from a far-off country,
and entered the Valley footsore and weary. She walked ahead,
carrying a great conical burden-basket, which was supported by a
band across her forehead, and was filled with many things. He
followed after, carrying a rude staff in his hand and a roll of
woven skin blankets over his shoulder. They had come across the
mountains and were very thirsty, and they hurried to reach the
Valley, where they knew there was water. The woman was still far
in advance when she reached the Lake Ah-wei´-yah [Mirror Lake],
and she dipped up the water in her basket and drank long and
deep. She was so thirsty that she even drank up all the water in
the lake and drained it dry before her husband arrived. And
because the lake was dry there came a terrible drouth in the
Valley, and the soil was dried up and nothing grew.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_
The women are the principal burden bearers and all loads are
carried in large baskets, supported by a band across the

And the husband was much displeased because the woman had drunk
up all the water and left none for him, and he became so angry
that he forgot the customs of his people and beat the woman with
his staff. She ran away from him, but he followed her and beat
her yet more. And she wept, and in her anger she turned and
reviled her husband, and threw her basket at him. And while they
were in this attitude, one facing the other, they were turned
into stone for their wickedness, and there they still retain. The
upturned basket lies beside the husband, where the woman threw
it, and the woman's face is tear stained with long dark lines
trailing down.

Half-Dome is the woman Tis-sa´-ack and North Dome is her
husband, while beside the latter is a smaller dome which is still
called Basket Dome to this day.


The significance and derivation of the name "Yosemite," as given
by old Tenei´-ya, chief of the tribe, have been explained in
another chapter, but there is also a legendary account of its
origin, which may be of interest.

Long, long ago, when the remote ancestors of the Yosemite Indians
dwelt peacefully in the valley called Ah-wah´-nee [Yosemite
Valley], one of the stalwart young braves of the tribe went early
one morning to spear some fish in the lake Ah-wei´-yah [Mirror
Lake]. Before reaching his destination he was confronted by a
huge grizzly bear, who appeared from behind one of the enormous
boulders in that vicinity, and savagely disputed his passage.

[Illustration: _Photograph by Foley._
Indians believe that this great rock grew from a small boulder.
See "Legend of the Tul-tok´-a-na."]

Being attacked in this unexpected manner, the Indian defended
himself to the best of his ability, using for the purpose the
dead limb of a tree which was near at hand, and, after a long and
furious struggle, in which he was badly wounded, he at length
succeeded in killing the bear.

His exploit was considered so remarkable by the rest of the tribe
that they called him Yo-sem´-i-te (meaning a full-grown grizzly
bear), in honor of his achievement, and this name was transmitted
to his children, and eventually to the whole tribe.


There were once two little boys living in the Valley of
Ah-wah´-nee, who went down to the river to swim. When they had
finished their bath they went on shore and lay down on a large
boulder to dry themselves in the sun. While lying there they fell
asleep, and slept so soundly that they never woke up again.
Through many moons and many snows they slept, and while they
slept the great rock [El Capitan] on which they lay was slowly
rising, little by little, until it soon lifted them up out of
sight, and their friends searched for them everywhere without
success. Thus they were carried up into the blue sky, until
they scraped their faces against the moon; and still they slept

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_.
NORTH DOME (TO-KO´-YA). 3,725 Feet.
This rock is believed by the Indians to represent Tis-sa´-ack's
husband, turned into stone for beating his wife. The lower dome
to the right is the basket which she threw at him. See "Legend of

Then all the animals assembled to bring down the little boys from
the top of the great rock. Each animal sprang up the face of the
rock as far as he could. The mouse could only spring a hand's
breadth, the rat two hands' breadths, the raccoon a little more,
and so on. The grizzly bear made a great leap up the wall, but
fell back like all the others, without reaching the top. Finally
came the lion, who jumped up farther than any of the others, but
even he fell back and could not reach the top.

Then came the _tul-tok´-a-na,_ the insignificant measuring
worm, who was despised by all the other creatures, and began to
creep up the face of the rock. Step by step, little by little, he
measured his way up until he was soon above the lion's jump, and
still farther and farther, until presently he was out of sight;
and still he crawled up and up, day and night, through many
moons, and at length he reached the top, and took the little boys
and brought them safely down to the ground. And therefore the
rock was named for the measuring worm, and was called


I will here relate a personal experience which occurred in
September, 1857, while out with a large party of Indians on a
deer hunt in the mountains.

One day, after a long tramp, I stopped to rest by the side of a
small lake about eight miles from the present site of Wawona, and
I then named it Grouse Lake on account of the great number of
grouse found there. Very soon a party of Indians came along
carrying some deer, and stopped on the opposite side of the lake
to rest and get some water. Soon after they had started again for
their camp I heard a distinct wailing cry, somewhat like the cry
of a puppy when lost, and I thought the Indians must have left
one of their young dogs behind.

When I joined the Indians in camp that night I inquired of them
about the sound I had heard. They replied that it was not a
dog--that a long time ago an Indian boy had been drowned in the
lake, and that every time any one passed there he always cried
after them, and that no one dared to go in the lake, for he
would catch them by the legs and pull them down and they would,
be drowned. I then concluded that it must have been some unseen
water-fowl that made the cry, and at that time I thought that the
Indians were trying to impose on my credulity, but I am now
convinced that they fully believed the story they told me.

Po-ho´-no Lake, the headwaters of the Bridal Veil Creek, was
also thought to be haunted by troubled spirits, which affected
the stream clear down into the Yosemite Valley; and the Indians
believed that an evil wind there had been the cause of some fatal
accidents many years ago. The word Po-ho´-no means a puffing
wind, and has also been translated "Evil Wind," on account of the
superstition above referred to.


Tee-hee´-nay was a beautiful Ah-wah´-nee maiden, said to be
the most beautiful of her tribe, and she was beloved by
Kos-su´-kah, a strong and valiant young brave. Valuable
presents had been made to the bride's parents, and they had given
their consent to an early marriage, which was to be celebrated by
a great feast.

To provide an abundance of venison and other meat for this
banquet, Kos-su´-kah gathered together his young companions and
went into the mountains in search of game. In order that
Tee-hee´-nay might know of his welfare and the success of the
hunt, it was agreed between the lovers that at sunset Kos-su´-kah
should go to the high rock to the east of Cho´-lak [Yosemite
Falls], and should shoot an arrow into the Valley, to which
should be attached a number of grouse feathers corresponding to
the number of deer that had fallen before the skill of the

[Illustration: _Photograph by Fiske_.
The-source of this stream is supposed by the Indians to be
haunted by troubled spirits, which affect the water along its
whole course. The word Po-ho´-no means a "puffing wind."]

At the time appointed Tee-hee´-nay went near the foot of the
great cliff and waited, with her eyes raised to the towering
rocks above, hoping with her keen sight to see the form of her
lover outlined against the sky, but no form could she see, and no
arrow fell into the Valley. As darkness gathered, gloomy
forebodings took possession of her, and she climbed part way up
the canyon called Le-ham´-i-tee [now known as Indian Canyon]
because the arrow-wood grew there, and finally she stood at the
very foot of the rocky wall which rose to dizzy heights above
her, and there she waited through the long night.

With the first streak of dawn she bounded swiftly up the rough
canyon, for she was fully convinced that some terrible fate had
overtaken the brave Kos-su´-kah, and soon she stood upon the
lofty summit [Yosemite Point], where she found her lover's
footsteps leading towards the edge of the precipice. Drawing
nearer she was startled to find that a portion of the cliff had
given way, and, upon peering over the brink, what was her horror
to discover the blood-stained and lifeless body of Kos-su´-kah
lying on a rocky ledge far beneath.

Summoning assistance by means of a signal fire, which was seen
from the Valley below, a rope was made of sapling tamaracks
lashed firmly together with thongs from one of the deer that was
to have furnished the marriage feast, and Tee-hee´-nay herself
insisted on being lowered over the precipice to recover the body
of her lover. This was at last successfully accomplished, and
when his ghastly form lay once more upon the rocky summit, she
threw herself on his bosom and gave way to passionate outburst of

Finally she became quiet, but when they stooped to raise her they
found that her spirit had fled to join the lost Kos-su´-kah and
that the lovers were re-united in death!

The fateful arrow that was the cause of so much sorrow could
never be found, and the Indians believe that it was taken away by
the spirits of Kos-su´-kah and Tee-hee´-nay. In memory of
them, and of this tragedy, the slender spire of rock [sometimes
called "The Devil's Thumb"] that rises heavenward near the top of
the cliff at this point is known among the Indians as Hum-mo´,
or the Lost Arrow.



Secure stage seats in advance.

Take only hand baggage, unless for a protracted visit. For a
short trip, an outing suit and two or three waists, with a change
for evening wear, will be found sufficient. The free baggage
allowance on the stage lines is fifty pounds.

Men will find flannel or negligee shirts the most comfortable.

In April, May and June wear warm clothing and take heavy wraps.
In July, August and September wear medium clothing, with light
wraps. In October and November wear warm clothing, with heavy
wraps. The nights are cool at all seasons.

Dusters are always advisable, and ladies should provide some
light head covering to protect the hair from dust. Sun bonnets
are frequently worn.

Short skirts are most convenient.

Divided skirts are proper for trail trips, as ladies are required
to ride astride. Heavy denim for skirt and bloomers is very
satisfactory. Such skirts can be hired in the Valley.

Waists of soft material and neutral shades are appropriate. Avoid

Something absolutely soft for neckwear will be found a great
comfort, both by men and women.

Leggings, stout, comfortable shoes, and heavy, loose gloves, will
be found very serviceable.

A soft felt hat is preferable to straw. One that will shade the
eyes is best. A cloth traveling cap is the worst thing to wear.

Smoked glasses will sometimes save the wearer a headache.

Except in April, May and November, an umbrella is apt to be a
useless encumbrance.

If the skin is sensitive, and one wishes to avoid painful
sunburn, the use of a pure cream and soft cloth is preferable to
water, and far more efficacious.

A week is the shortest time that should be allowed for a trip to
Yosemite. Two weeks are better. The grandeur of the Valley cannot
be fully appreciated in a few days. Those not accustomed to
staging or mountain climbing should make some allowance in their
itineraries for rest. Many visitors spoil their pleasure by
getting too tired.

Take a little more money than you think will be needed. You may
want to prolong your stay.

Hunting, or the possession of firearms, is not permitted in the
Yosemite National Park. Fishing is allowed, and in June and July
an expert angler is likely to be well rewarded. Rods and tackle
may be hired in the Valley.

There is no hardship, risk or danger in any part of the Yosemite
trip. Many old people and children visit the Valley without

A knowledge of horsemanship is not needed for going on the
trails. The most timid people make the trips with enjoyment. Some
of the finest views can only be obtained in this way.

There is a laundry in the Valley.

There is a barber shop.

There is a post office, telegraph and express. There is a
general store and places for the sale of photographs, curios and
Indian work.

Treat the Indians with courtesy and consideration, if you expect
similar treatment from them. Do not expect them to pose for you
for nothing. They are asked to do it hundreds of times every
summer, and are entitled to payment for their trouble.

Kodak films and plates can be obtained in the Valley.

Developing and printing are done in the Valley.



The following are the legal rates for transportation of tourists
in and about the Yosemite Valley:


FROM HOTELS OR PUBLIC        E D (    R o M    R o F
CAMPS, AND RETURN.           s i R    a f o    a f o
                             t s o    t   r    t   u
                             i t u    e F e    e L r
                             m a n      o        e
                             a n d    f u      f s
                             t c      o r      o s
                             e e t    r        r
                             d   r      o        t
                                 i    P r      P h
                                 p    a        a a
                                 )    r        r n
                                      t        t
                                      y        y

                           Miles      Each     Each
                                      Person   Person
To Cascades, Yosemite and
 Bridal Veil Falls         16.00      $1.50    $2.00

To Mirror Lake              5.82       1.00     1.00

To River View and Bridal
 Veil Falls                10.41       1.00     1.50

To New Inspiration Point   14.38       2.00     2.50

To Happy Isles              4.00        .50     1.00

To Yosemite Falls           3.00        .50      .75


FROM HOTELS OR PUBLIC       | Estimated  | Rate for      | Rate for
CAMPS, AND RETURN.          | Distance   | Party of      | Party of Less
                            | (Round     | Four or More  | Than Four
                            | Trip)      |               |
                            | Miles      | Each Person   | Each Person
To Vernal and Nevada Falls  | 10.90      | $ 2.50        | $ 3.00
To Yosemite Falls and Eagle |            |               |
Peak                        | 13.18      |   3.00        |   3.00
To Glacier Point and        |            |               |
Sentinel Dome               | 11.14      |   3.00        |   3.00
To Yosemite Point           | 10.00      |   2.50        |   3.00
To Eagle Peak               | 13.00      |   3.00        |   3.00
To Vernal and Nevada Falls  |            |               |
and Glacier Point           |            |               |
(Continuous Trip)           | 19.22      |   4.00        |   5.00
To Glacier Point, Sentinel  |            |               |
Dome and Fissures           | 14.00      |   3.50        |   3.75
To Old Inspiration Point    |            |               |
and Stanford Point          | 16.00      |   4.00        |   4.00
To Vernal and Nevada Falls  |            |               |
and Cloud's Rest (Same Day) | 22.00      |   4.00        |   5.00
Charges for Guide           |            |               |
(Including Horse)           |            |               |
When Furnished              |            |   Free        |   3.00

1. Trips other than those above specified shall be subject to
special arrangements between the parties and the stables.

2. Any excess of the above rates, as well as any extortion,
incivility, misrepresentation, or riding of unsafe animals,
should be reported to the Superintendent's office.

3. All distances are estimated from the Superintendent's office.



Bridal Veil Falls                           4
Yosemite Falls, base                          3/4
Upper Yosemite Fall, base                   2 3/4
Upper Yosemite Fall, top                    4 1/4
Little Yosemite Valley                      8
Glacier Point (short trail)                 4 1/2
Glacier Point (via Nevada Falls)           14 1/2
Cascades                                    8

       *       *       *       *       *


The Indians had names for all the prominent features of the
Yosemite Valley, and these have been variously translated
(sometimes with considerable poetic license), and variously
spelled. The translations given below are as literal as possible,
without embellishment, and are believed to be fairly accurate.
The spelling adopted is such as best indicates the pronunciation.

The English names, by which the falls and peaks are commonly
known, bear no relation to the Indian names, but were bestowed by
the soldiers of the Mariposa Battalion at the time the Valley
was discovered. The appropriateness and good taste of most of
them are due to Dr. L.H. Bunnell, the surgeon of the expedition.

AH-WAH´-NEE (original name of Yosemite Valley)--"Deep grassy

YO-SEM´-I-TE--"Full-grown grizzly bear."

PO-HO´-NO (Bridal Veil)--"A puffing-wind."

LOI´-YA (The Sentinel)--"A signal station."

CHO´-LACK (Yosemite Falls)--"The falls."

CHO-KO´-NI (Royal Arches)--"Canopy of baby basket." Strictly
speaking, this name applies only to a deep alcove near the top of
this cliff.

YO-WEI´-YEE (Nevada)--"Twisting."

TO-TAU-KON-NU´-LA (El Capitan)--Named from the To-tau´-kons,
or cranes, which used to make their nests in a meadow near the
top of this rock.

KU-SO´-KO (Cathedral Rock)--Interpretation doubtful.

PU-SEE´-NA CHUCK´-AH (Cathedral Spires)--"Pu-see-na" means
mouse or rat, and might possibly be applied to a squirrel.
"Chuck-ah" is a store house or _cache_.

WAW-HAW´-KEE (Three Brothers)--"Falling rocks."
Pom-pom-pa´-sus, usually given as the Indian name of the Three
Brothers, is the name of a smaller rock immediately to the West.

WEI-YOW´ (Mt. Watkins)--"Juniper Mountain."

TO-KO´-YA (North Dome)--"The Basket."

TIS-SA´-ACK (Half Dome)--A character in Indian mythology.

MAH´-TA (Cap of Liberty)--Said to mean "Martyr Mountain."

PI-WEI´-ACK (Vernal Fall)--Said to mean "Sparkling water."

LE-HAM´-I-TEE (Indian Canyon)--"The place of the arrow-wood."

HUM-MO´ (Devil's Thumb)--"The Lost Arrow."

AH-WEI´-YA (Mirror Lake)--"Quiet Water."

TOO-LOO´-LO-WEI-ACK (Illillouette Fall)--Interpretation

WAH´-WO-NAH--"Big Tree." (Now commonly spelled and pronounced


Cascades                                        700
Bridal Veil                                     940
Ribbon                                        3,300
Sentinel                                      3,270
Yosemite (Upper 1,600 ft.; Lower 400 ft.)     2,634
Royal Arch                                    2,000
Vernal                                          350
Nevada                                          700
Illillouette                                    500


(The Valley Floor is about 4,000 feet above sea level.)


Inspiration Point                    1,248
El Capitan                           3,300
Cathedral Rock                       2,678
Cathedral Spires                     1,934
Royal Arches                (span)   2,000
The Sentinel                         3,100
Sentinel Dome                        4,122
Three Brothers                       3,900
Eagle Peak                           3,900
Yosemite Point                       3,220
Glacier Point                        3,250
North Dome                           3,725
Half Dome                            5,000
Cap of Liberty.                      3,062
Union Point                          2,350
Cloud's Rest.                        5,912
Mt. Starr King                       5,100


King-eet´           One
O-tee´-cat          Two
Tul-o´-cat          Three
O-e´-sart           Four
Mo´-ho´´-cat        Five
Te´-mo´´-cat        Six
Te-tow´-ok          Seven
Cow-in´-tuk         Eight
El´-e´´-wok         Nine
Ne-ah´-jah          Ten

Larger numbers are expressed by combinations of these numbers.


Wat-too´          The Sun
Co´-ma            Moon
He-a´-mah         Day
Cow-il´-la        Night
Tum-aw´-lin       North
Chu´-muck         South
He´-home          East
El-o´-win         West
Het-a-poo´-pa     Cold
Wool-tut´-tee     Hat*
Come´-haw         Burn
Chum´-haw         Dead or Die
Na´-win           Up or Above
Hoo´-ya           Down or Below
Wool-ar´-nee      To Hunt or Look For
Took´-hah         To Kill
E´-win            Now
Oo´-haw           By and By
Man´-nik          More
Ut´-tee           Much
Wa´-le-co         Quick
Now´-tah          To Steal
Nung´-hah         Man
O´-hock           Woman
Es-el´-lo         Baby or Infant

*Transcriber's note: This appears to be a typographical error for "Hot."
See "Central Sierra Miwok Dictionary with Texts" by L. S. Freeland
and Sylvia M. Broadbent (Publications in Linguistics vol. XXIII,
University of California Press, Berkeley, 1960).


Names of Tribes--                            From--

Wil-tuk´-um-nees                           Tuolumne River
Yo-sem´-i-tees                             Yosemite Valley
Po-to-en´-sees and Noot´-choos             Merced River
Chow-chil´-lies                            Chowchilla Valley
Me´-woos                                   Fresno Valley
Chook-chan´-cies                           Fresno and San Joaquin Rivers
Ho-na´-ches                                San Joaquin River
Pit-cal´-chees and Tal-an´-chees           San Joaquin Valley
Cas-was´-sees                              Fine Gold Gulch
Wah-too´-kees,  Wat´-chees,
No´-to-no´-tose and We-mel´-chees          Kings River
Cow-il´-lees and Tel-um´-nees              Four Creeks
Woo´-wells and Tal´-chees                  Tule Lake

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