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BOOKS ABOUT 1
tlvo of Ir
Advantage. Opportunity* Wovrten
Published by the
"The Coast Line"
be San Joaquin Valley"
"California South of Tehachaj
rnia for the SetMer"
'The Land of Opportunity"
Mmny rally I Nil -trotyl FoliU'm
ntfe River Canyon, Lake Tahoe,
ITr«« of >lfe»ti or nt Informal Ina Dura* a
Flood Building San Francisco
Ph"toytvpfi by ruber.
THE YOSEMITE VALLEY
Their History, Customs and Traditions
Author of "Big Trees of California/' Discoverer of the Mariposa
Grove of Bis Trees, and for many years Guardian
of the Yosemite Valley.
With an Appendix
Useful Information for Yosemite Visitors
AND FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
YOSEMITE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
HARVARD COLLEGE UBftAR*
FROM Tf:E LIQRARY OF
JOHN GRAHAM BROOKS
APRIL 25, 1939
Copyright 1904, by Galen Clark,
All Rights Reserved.
Rcfiex Publishing Co.
TO ICY FRIEND
CHARLES HOWARD BURNETT
INTRODUCTION AND SKETCH OF THE
I. EARLY HISTORY 1
II. EFFECTS OF THE WAR 14
III. CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERISTICS 21
IV. SOURCES OF FOOD SUPPLY 31
V. RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. . 49
VI. NATIVE INDUSTRIES 67
VII. MYTHS AND LEGENDS 76
Hints to Yosemite Visitors 101
Official Table of Distances and Livery
Supplementary Table of Distances 107
Interpretation of Indian Names 107
Tables of Altitudes 110
Names of Indian Numerals Ill
Indian Words in Common Use Ill
Tribes Placed on Reservations in 1850-51 112
Utat nf illlufitrattnttfi
COVER DESIGN Mrs. Jo rye n sen
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
YOSEMITE MAIDEN IN NATIVE DRESS, Jorgensen 27
A YOSEMITE HUNTER, Jorgensen 32
INDIAN SWEAT HOUSE, Jorgensen 34
CHUCK'-AH, Mrs. Jorgensen 39
HO'-YAS AND ME-TATS', Flske 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. JORGENSENS BASKETS 68
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
INDIAN BEAD WORK, Fiske 70
A BASKET MAKER, Boysen 73
MART, Boysen 79
HALF DOME, Foley 84
A BURDEN BEARER, Fiske 88
NORTH DOME, Foley 91
EL CAPITAN, Foley 93
BRIDAL VEIL FALL, Fiske 97
Sntrnfcurtiim attb fi>k*irtf of %
GALEN CLARK, the author of this little
volume, is one of the notable char-
acters 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 visi-
tors, 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 Calif ornia
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 conse-
quently 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 faim during the summer, leading nearly
the same life which was followed by so
many others who afterwards became fa-
mous 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 Phila-
delphia 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 cele-
brated Crystal Palace in New York, where
there was then on exhibition quantities of
gold dust which had been sent or brought
East by successful miners.
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 Val-
ley 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,' 9 the subject of pro-
longed 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 notor-
iety, and give to the public the benefit of
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 ex-
posure, had a serious attack of lung trou-
ble, 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 malady.
Wawona is twenty-six miles from Yosem-
ite, 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 com-
pleted 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 con-
structed 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 an-
nually 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 expedi-
tion 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 appro-
priately marked, and can be seen from the
So impressed was Mr. Clark with the im-
portance 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 con-
venience 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 ap-
pointed Guardian of the Valley, and under
his administration many needed improve-
ments 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 over-
looking 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 re-
tirement from the office of Guardian, are
herein given :
Whereas, Galen Clark has for a long number of
years been closely identified with Yosemite Valley,
and nas 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 Guar-
dian, 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 appre-
ciation 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 happiness.
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
lias also been a resident during many win-
ters, and his descriptions of the Valley,
when wrapped in snow and ice, are intense-
ly interesting. Though always ready to give
information, he is naturally reticent, and
never forces his stories or reminiscences
upon visitors ; indeed it requires some per-
suasion to hear him talk about himself at
For some years Mr. Clark was post-
master 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 Yosem-
ite, and, upon reaching the top of the Val-
ley, 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, notwith-
standing 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
His long residence in Yosemite has made
lim 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 monu-
ment 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 ay oxrng Sequoia.
May it be many years before he is called
to occupy his last earthly tenement.
W. W. Foote.
INDIANS OF THE
INDIANS OF THE
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 popula-
tion of gold miners and others in 1850, and
the subsequent war, in which the Indians
2 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
were defeated, and, as a result, nearly ex-
ORIGIN OF THE YOSEMITE INDIANS.
According to statements made by Teneiya
(Ten-eye'-ya*) chief of the Yosemites, to
Dr. L. H. Bunnell, and published by him in
his book on the i i Discovery of the Yosem-
ite," 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. ' '
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 tribes.
For years afterwards this locality was un-
inhabited, but finally Teneiya, who claimed
to be descended from an Ah-wah-nee'-chee
* 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 indi-
cated, or the pronunciation given in parenthesis.
Photoyraph by Fiske.
YOSEMITE FALLS (CHO'-LACK),
Near the foot of these falls was located the vil-
lage of Ah-wah'-nee, the Indian capital and
residence of Chief Teneiya. There were eight
other villages in the Valley.
4 INDIANS OF THE YO SEMITE.
chief, left the Mo'nos, where he had been
born and brought up, and, gathering some
of his father's old tribe around him, visited
the Valley and claimed it as the birthright
of his people. He theri became the founder
of a new tribe or band, which received the
name "Yo-sem'-i-te. M 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
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 terri-
tory among them, and indulging in few con-
troversies. In fact, these Indians in general
were less belligerent and warlike than any
others on the Pacific Coast. When difficul-
ties arose, they were usually settled peace-
fully by arbitration, in a grand council of
EARLY HISTORY. 5
the chiefs and head men of the tribes in-
volved, without resorting to open hostili-
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'
Eiver in winter, about twelve miles below
Wawo'na; the Po-to-en'-cies, who lived on
the Merced River; Wil-tuc-um'-nees, Tuol'-
urnne 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
These tribes, including the Yosemites,
were all somewhat affiliated by common an-
cestry or by intermarriage, and were simi-
lar in their general characteristics and cus-
toms. 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
native plants, for food.
6 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
INDIAN WAR OF 1851.
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.
AGGRESSIONS BY THE WHITE SETTLERS.
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.
EARLY HISTORY. 7
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
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
Copyrighted Photograph by Boy sen.
AN INDIAN DANCER.
Chow-chil-la Indian in full war-dance costume.
EARLY HISTORY. 9
food game were being rapidly killed off or
driven from the locality.
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 ser-
vants 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 starvation.
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.
10 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITB.
BEGINNING OF HOSTILITIES.
To prepare for this struggle for exist-
ence, they made raids upon some of the
principal trading posts in the mining sec-
tions, 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 sol-
diers and volunteer citizens, and a spiiited
battle was fought without any desisive ad-
vantage to either side.
The breaking out of actual hostilities
created great excitement among the whites,
and an urgent call was made upon the Gov-
ernor of the State for a military force to
meet the emergency, and protect the set-
tlers — a force strong enough to thoroughly
subdue the Indians, and remove all of them
to reservations to be selectei by the United
States Indian Commissioners for that
Meantime the Governor and the Com-
missioners, who had then arrived, were
receiving numerous communications, many
of them from persons in high official posi-
tions, earnestly urging a more humane and
just policy, averring that the Indians had
EARLY HISTORY. 11
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 in-
fluence in delaying hostile measures, and in
the inauguration of efforts to induce the
Indians to come in and treat with the Com-
missioners, 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 them-
selves at long range against soldiers armed
with rifles. Moreover, their stock of provi-
12 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITB.
sions was so limited that they either had to
surrender or starve.
DISCOVERY OF YOSEMITE VALLEY.
The Yosemites and one or two other
bands of Indians had refused to surrender,
and had retreated to their mountain strong-
holds, where they proposed to make a last
determined resistance. Active preparations
were accordingly made by the State author-
ities 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 or-
ganized, 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 reserva-
tions 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 appro-
priately been named.
i, \ ^
■£ -^HHr^ijipt -*i
^^^^BeT^lT? c ^v
Photograph by Foley.
THREE BROTHERS (WAW-HAW'-KEE),
Named by the soldiers who discovered the Val-
ley, to commemorate the capture of three
sons of Teneiya near this place. The Indian
name means "Falling: Rocks."
EFFECTS OF THE WAR.
The Yosemites and all of the other tribes
named in the previous chapter were put
upon the Fresno reservation. Major Sav-
age, 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 com-
mitted against them.
The tribes from south of the San Joaquin
Eiver, who were also conquered in 1851,
were put upon the Kings River and Tejon
(T ay -hone') reservations.
LIFE ON THE RESERVATIONS.
Ample food supplies, blankets, clothing*
and cheap fancy articles were furnished by
the Government for the subsistence, com-
fort and pleasure of the Indians on the res-
ervations, 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
EFFECTS OF THE WAR. 15
clearing, fencing and cultivating fields for
hay and vegetables, and thus they were par-
tially 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 dis-
turb the white settlers in any way, a pledge
which he did not break.
DEATH OF TENEIYA.
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
16 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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
RESTORED TO LIBERTY.
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 set-
tlers, 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 settle-
ments 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 win-
ter 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 well.
Photograph by Foley.
One of the characters of the Valley. Supposed
to be 105 years old, and a survivor of Tenei-
18 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
HARDSHIP AND SUFFERING.
Their four years' residence on the reser-
vations, however, had been more of a school
in the vices of the whites than one of a
higher education. They became demoral-
ized 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
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 ar-
ticle being obtained through the aid of
some white person, in violation of law.
EFFECTS OF THE WAR. 19
Their miserable, squalid condition of liv-
ing opened the way for diseases of a malig-
nant character, which their medicine men
could not cure, and their numbers were rap-
idly reduced by death.
At the present time there are not in exist-
ence a half-dozen of the old Yosemites who
were living, even as children, when the Val-
ley was first discovered in 1851 ; and many
of the other tribes have been correspond-
Pholofjraph by Boysen.
YOSEMITE MOTHER AND PAPOOSE.
The baby basket is carried on the back, like all
burdens, and supported by a band across the
CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERISTICS.
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 ap-
ply 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.
DIVISION OF TERRITORY.
In their original tribal settlements, at the
time the first pioneer whites came among
them, the Indians had well defined or under-
22 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
stood boundary lines, between the territor-
ies claimed by each tribe for their exclusive
use in hunting game and gathering means
of support ; and any trespassing on the do-
main 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.
COMMEBCE AMONG THE TRIBES.
As there was a difference in the natural
products and resources of different sections
of the country, there was a system of recip-
rocal trade in the exchange of the differ-
ent desirable commodities. Sometimes com-
merce 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
CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERISTICS. 23
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 arti-
cles, a few blankets, and pieces of red bunt-
ing, strips of which the chiefs and head
men wore around their heads as badges, in-
dicating 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 direc-
tions, where others took the verbal dis-
patches 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 be-
tween the different tribes.
24 INDIANS OF THE YO SEMITE.
They also had well organized signal sys-
tems, by fires in the night and smoke by
day, on high points of observation — varia-
tions 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 (Liboce-
drus decurrens) . A few poles ten or twelve
feet long were set in the ground around au
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
One of these huts would hold a family of
a half-dozen persons, with all their house-
hold property, dogs included ; and there is
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.
26 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
no other form of a single-room dwelling
that can be kept warm and comfortable in
cold weather with so little fire, as this In-
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 loosly 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 w T ere 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 f -
Dra icing by Jorgensen.
YOSEMITE MAIDEN IN NATIVE DRESS.
This buckskin costume has now been replaced
by the unpicturesque calico of civilization.
28 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 deer-
skin finished at the bottom with a slit
fringe, and sometimes decorated with var-
ious fancy ornaments. Both men and wo-
men frequently wore moccasins made of
dressed deer or elk skin. Young children
generally went entirely nude.
The Indians of the various tribes in this
part of the Sierras vary somewhat in phy-
sical characteristics, but in general are of
medium height, strong, lean and agile, and
the men are usually fine specimens of man-
hood. 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
hlack 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
CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERISTICS. 29
experience with the white race has made
them distant and uncommunicative to
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 read-
ily 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 sel-
dom 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 opporutnity, 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
30 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 any-
thing being stolen or molested by Indians.
There are, however, some dishonest In-
dians, who will steal from their own peo-
ple, 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 order-
ly, 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.
SOURCES OF FOOD SUPPLY.
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
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 com-
mon center, where at close range the
FOOD SUPPLY. 33
hunters could sometimes make an extensive
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 gen-
erally 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.
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
FOOD SUPPLY. 35
migratory in their habits, being driven from
the higher ranges to the foothills by the
deep winter snows, and in the spring follow-
ing close to the melting, receding snow,
back again to their favorite summer haunts.
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 veni-
son 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 cov
ered 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 un-
til 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 safety.
36 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
After this purification they kept them-
selves 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 roast-
ing before the fire or in the embers. Some-
times, however, they made a cavity in the
ground, in which they built a fire, which
was afterwards cleared away and the cav-
ity 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
FOOD SUPPLY. 37
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). Be-
fore 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
38 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
at the pointed lower end, which was ele-
vated above the surface of the water below
the dam. The fish, in going down stream,
ran into this trap, and soon found them-
selves 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 hand-
ful, 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 sur-
face, 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 oper-
ation every fish in it for a distance of three
miles would be taken in a few hours.
The fish were generally cooked by roast-
ing on hot coals from burned oak wood or
ACORNS AS FOOD.
Acorns were their main staple article of
breadstuff, and they are still used by the
Draicinfj by Mr*. Jorgensen.
Storehouse for nuts and acorns, thatched with
pine branches, points downward, to keep
out mice and squirrels.
40 INDIANS OF THE YO SEMITE.
present generation whenever they can be
They are gathered in the fall when ripe,
and are preserved for future use in the old
style Indian cache or storehouse. This con-
sists 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 depreda-
tions 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 required.
The acorns from the black or Kellogg 's
oak (Quercus Calif ornica) are considered
FOOD SUPPLY. 41
much the best and most nutritious by the
Indians. This is the oak which is so beau-
tiful 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.
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 shal-
low basins in clean washed sand, in the cen-
ter of which are laid a few flat, fan-like ends
of fir branches. A fire is then made near by,
FOOD SUPPLY. 43
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 con-
sistency 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
harden 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
44 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 use-
ful 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 people.
NUTS AND BERRIES.
Pine nuts were another important article
of food, and were much prized by the In-
dians. They are very palatable and nutri-
tious, and are also greatly relished by white
people whenever they can be obtained. The
seeds of the Digger or nut pine (Pirns
Sabiniana) were the ones most used on the
FOOD SUPPLY. 45
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 princi-
pally 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 enor-
mous 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 eaten.
The principal berries used by the Indians
of Yosemite and tribes lower down in the
foothills were those of the manzanita (Arc-
tostaphylos 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 ap-
ple," and this shrub, with its rich red
46 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
bark and pale green foliage, is perhaps the
most beautiful and most widely distributed
in California. Strawberries, black rasp-
berries, elderberries, wild cherries and the
fruit of the Sierra plum (Prunus subcor-
data) are also used by the Indians, but wild
edible berries are not as plentiful in Cali-
fornia as they are in the Atlantic States.
GRASSHOPPERS AND WORMS.
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-eha'-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
Photoyrapli by Fiske.
A WOOD GATHERER.
As in all Indian tribes, the women do most of
48 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 grasshop-
pers 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.
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 mak-
ing 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).
RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS.
The Indians of this region, in common
with most, if not all, of the North American
aborigines, were of a highly religious tem-
perament, 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 symbol-
ical, and some of their curious and pictur-
esque 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 pleas-
ure 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
50 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
bare feet, and the women performing a cur-
ious sideways, swaying motion. Some of
the dancers carried wands or arrows, and
indulged in wild gesticulations. They usu-
ally 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 ex-
hibitions of what purported to be war
dances, but these performances, like every-
thing else which they do from purely mer-
cenary motives, are very poor imitations of
the originals, and it is doubtful if they have
ever allowed a genuine war dance to be wit-
nessed by white men.
The various tribes in the vicinity of
Yosemite Valley are accustomed to hold a
CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. 51
great meeting or festival once a year, each
tribe taking its turn as hosts, and the others
sometimes coming from considerable dis-
tances. 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 visit-
ing tribes, consisting of money, blankets,
clothing, baskets, bead-work, or other val-
uable 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 addi-
tional gifts, which, in turn, must be given
back the following year, and so on.
At these gatherings an Indian is ap-
pointed 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 contribu-
tions, into the blanket, to pay him and his
assistants for their services. At other times
this man acts as a messenger or news car-
rier — first spreading his blanket to collect
52 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
his fees, and then starting off on his
Many of the Indians in Mariposa and
adjoining counties were polygamists, hav-
ing two or three, and sometimes more,
wives. Some of the chiefs and head men
would have wives from several of the adja-
cent tribes, which had a tendency to estab-
lish permanent friendly relations among
Every man who took a young woman for
his wife had to buy her. Young women
were considered by their parents as per-
sonal chattels, subject to sale to the highest
suitable bidder, and the payment of the
price constituted the main part of the mar-
riage 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
Photograph by Dove.
A YOUNG YOSEMtTE.
The babies are tied to their baskets to make
them straight, and keep them out of mischief.
54 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
become a man's wife, received some
compensation herself from her intended
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 pen-
alty 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 dis-
graceful punishment than death.
Even in the management of children,
whipping was never resorted to as punish-
ment for disobedience, fn 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
In recent years, under the influence and
examples often seen in what is called civil-
ized life, Indian husbands have been known
to beat their wives, and mothers to whip
Photo fjraph by Boysvn.
LENA AND VIRGIL.
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.
56 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
At the time of the settlement of Califor-
nia 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 rever-
ed chieftains and dear friends, now in a
much more happy condition than when here
in earthly life. They were thought to be
en lowed with supernatural powers, not on-
ly in curing all diseases (except those due I
to old age), but also in making a well per-
son sick at their pleasure, even at a dis-
tance; but when their sorcery failed to
work on their white enemies and extermin-
ate 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 doc-
tor failed to cure these diseases, and several
CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. 57
deaths occurred in quick succession in a
canip, they believed the doctor was under
the control of some evil spirit, and killed
After the Indians were given their free-
dom 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 capacity.
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 ab-
domen was treated in the same way, as
were also all painful swellings on any part
of the body.
\X C w NO**--
CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. 59
<«ks, or on a string of beads, to protect
■*ni from sickness.
In cases of malignant sores or ulcers on
y part of the body, the doctors treated
m by applying dirt or earth, and in
rm weather would excavate a place in
■ ground and put the patient in it, either
a sitting or recumbent position, as the
ture of the case required, and cover the
t'cted part with earth for several hours
ily. Sometimes, by this mode of treat-
nt, wonderful cures were made.
in all cases, if a doctor failed to cure a
-ease, and the patient died, he was obliged
refund to the relatives any fee which he
I received for his services.
DISPOSING OF THE DEAD.
II the early days of the settlement of Cal-
■mia, it seemed to be the univeral custom
the Indians along the foothills of the
■■rra Nevada range of mountains to burn
<* bodies of their dead.
A suitable pile of readily combustible
»od was prepared. The body was taken
arge of by persons chosen to perform the
-t sacred rites, and firmly bound in skins
60 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 cere-
monies. When all was ready, one of the
assistants would light the fire, and the terri-
ble, 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 consumed.
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
CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. 61
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 re-
leased and set free to speed to the happy
spirit world in the El-o'-icin, 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 earth- wife.
CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. 63
These Indians believe that everything on
earth, both natural and artificial, is endow-
ed with an immortal spirit, which is inde-
structible, and that whatever personal prop-
erty or precious gifts are burned, either
with the body or in later years for the de-
parted 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 frag-
ments before being deposited in the ground,
for fear some white person will desecrate
the grave by digging them up and carrying
There are no people in the world who
show more reverence for their dead, or hold
their memory more sacred, than these so-
called "Digger" Indians. After being re-
leased from the reservations they kept
themselves in abject poverty for many
years by sacrificing their best blankets,
64 INDIAN3 OF THE YOSEMITE.
baskets and clothing in the devouring
flames of a fire kindled for that purpose,
when holding their annual mourning festi-
vals 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 diffi-
cult to get information from them by direct
They seem, however, to have a vague, in-
distinct belief or tradition that their orig-
inal ancestors, in the long forgotten past,
dwelt in a better and much more desirable
country than this, in the El-o'-ivin, or dis-
tant 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 7 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
CEREMONIES AND BELIEFS. 65
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 rela-
tives 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 undertak-
ings. 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.
The Yosemites and other kindred or ad-
jacent tribes have been branded as " Dig-
gers,' 9 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.
BASKETRY AND BEAD WORK.
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 bur-
ied with their bodies, or that of some rela-
tive or dear friend, after death. The bas-
kets devoted to this special purpose are the
finest made, but are very seldom seen by
any white person, and are not for sale at
NATIVE INDUSTRIES. 69
any price. This finest style of work seems
to have been made a specialty by certain of
the most artistic workers in each tribe.
At the present time, in their more mod-
ern 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 de-
signs 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 com-
plete 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.
Many of the young women are now giv-
ing 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
2 K '
NATIVE INDUSTRIES. 71
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 prac-
tically 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.
BOWS AND ARROWS.
The Indian men showed no less ingenuity
and artistic skill in their special lines of
72 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
work than the women, especially in the
manufacture of their bows and arrows, in
the making of fish lines and coarser twine
out of the soft, flexible bark of the milk-
weed (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) y ov of
the California nutmeg (Tumion Cali-
fomicum [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 con-
cave on the outer side.
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
Photograph by Boy sen.
A BASKET MAKER.
She is weaving a burden basket. The one to the
left is for cooking", and a baby basket stands
against the tent.
74 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 Leivisii) 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 seem-
ed to be a special business or trade with
some of the old men. Arrows furnished
with these points were only used in hunt-
ing 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
NATIVE INDUSTRIES. 75
feathers are supposed to aid in the more
accurate flight of the arrow when shot from
When out on a hunt the Indian carried
his bow strung ready for use, and his bun-
dle 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 mount-
ed on wooden handles, which they used in
delicately chipping the brittle obsidian in
forming arrowheads. Eude musical instru-
ments, principally drums and flageolets,
were also made.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS.
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 in-
formation 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
Many Yosemite legends have been pub-
lished at different times and in various
forms, and it is probable that most of them
have had at least a foundation in real In-
dian myths, but many are obviously fanci-
ful 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
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 77
Indians remarked contemptuously, "White
man too much lie. ' '
On the other hand, red men as well as
white men are sometimes given to romanc-
ing, 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 sub-
ject is surrounded with some difficulty, and
it must not be understood that the legends
here given are vouched for as of wholly In-
dian origin. Some of them, notably those
of the Tul-tok'-a-na and the second legend
of Tis-sa'-ack, have been accepted by emi-
nent ethnologists, and are believed to be
purely aboriginal, while others have doubt-
less 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
78 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 tradi-
tional history of the region, nor the names
of the prominent scenic features, nor even
of the Valley itself. And this largely ac-
counts 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.
LEGEND OF TO-TAU-KON-NU'-LA AND TIS-
Innumerable moons and snows have
passed since the Great Spirit guided a little
band of his favorite children into the beau-
tiful vale of Ah-wah'-nee,* 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 (West).
* Yosemite Valley.
Daughter of Captain John, one of the last Chiefs
of the Yosemites.
80 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 abun-
dance. The trees and bushes yielded acorns,
pine nuts, fruits and berries. In the forests
were herds of he -her (deer) and other ani-
mals, 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.
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 out-
side 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
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 81
they believed that their children could ab-
sorb 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 coy-
ote, 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 oth-
er 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 (griz-
zly 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
As was the custom in giving names to all
Indians, his name was changed from time
to time, as his character developed, until
lie was called Choo'-too-se-ka', meaning the
Supreme Good. His grand o -chum
(house) was built at the base of the great
82 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
rock called To-tau-kon-nu'-la,* because the
great to-tau'-kons made their nests and
raised their young in a meadow at its sum-
mit, 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 him-
self 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 pal-
ace, 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 seen.
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
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 83
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* 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 col-
ors, as tokens of our friendship. When we
have rested and seen your people and beau-
tiful valley we will return to our home. ' '
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
* Sentinel Dome.
Photograph by Foley.
HALF DOME (TIS-SA'-ACK).
Named for a woman in Indian mythology who
was turned to stone for quarreling: with her
husband. See "Legend of Tis-sa'-ack."
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 85
of the great dome at the east end of the
Valley,* and this dome still retains her
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 vis-
ited 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,
' Half Dome.
86 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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.* 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 drowned.
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
* Mirror Lake.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 87
traveling. This figure was interpreted to be
the picture of the great lost Chieftain, indi-
cating that he had gone to the ' i happy hunt-
ing 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.
ANOTHER LEGEND OF TIS-SA'-ACK.
Tis-sa'-ack and her husband traveled
from a far-off country, and entered the Val-
ley 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
.* £ B
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 89
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,* 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.
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 hus-
band, 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 re-
main. The upturned basket lies beside the
husband, where the woman threw it, and
* Mirror Lake.
90 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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.
LEGEND OF THE GRIZZLY BEAR.
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 ances-
tors of the Yosemite Indians dwelt peace-
fully in the valley called Ah-wah'-nee,* one
of the stalwart young braves of the tribe
went early one morning to spear some fish
in the lake Ah-wei'-yahJ 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.
Being attacked in this unexpected man-
ner, the Indian defended himself to the best
* Yosemite Valley,
t Mirror Lake.
Photograph hy Fiske.
NORTH DOME (TO-KO'-YA).
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 Tis-sa'-ack."
92 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 remark-
able 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 chil-
dren, and eventually to the whole tribe.
LEGEND OF THE TUL-TOK'-A-NA.
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* 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 suc-
* El Capitan.
Photograph by Foley.
EL CAPITAN (TO-TAU-KON-NU'-LA).
The Indians believe that this great rock grew
form a small boulder. See "Legend of the
94 INDIANS OF THE YO SEMITE.
cess. Thus they were carried up into the
blue sky, until they scraped their faces
against the moon; and still they slept on.
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 insignifi-
cant 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
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 95
for the measuring worm, and was called
LEGEND OF GROUSE LAKE.
I will here relate a personal experience
which occurred in September, 1857, while
out with a large party of Indians on a deer
liunt 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 op-
posite 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
96 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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 ac-
count of the superstition above referred to.
LEGEND OF THE LOST ARROW.
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 par-
ents, and they had given their consent to an
early marriage, which was to be celebrated
by a great feast.
Photograph by Fiske.
BRIDAL VEIL FALL (PO-HO'-NO).
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."
98 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
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,* 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
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-teet because the arrow-
wood grew there, and finally she stood at
* Yosemite Falls.
t Now known as Indian Canyon.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS. 99
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,* where
she found her lover's footsteps leading to-
wards the edge of the precipice. Drawing
nearer she was startled to find that a por-
tion of the cliff had given way, and, upon
peering over the brink, what was her hor-
ror to discover the blood-stained and life-
less body of Kos-su'-kah lying on a rocky
ledge far beneath.
Summoning assistance by means of a sig-
nal fire, which was seen from the Valley
below, a rope was made of sapling tama-
racks 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 accom-
plished, and when his ghastly form lay once
* Yosemite Point.
100 INDIANS OF THE YOSEMITE.
more upon the rocky summit, she threw
herself on his bosom and gave way to a
passionate outburst of grief.
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* that
rises heavenward near the top of the cliff at
this point is known among the Indians as
Hum-mo', or the Lost Arrow.
* Sometimes called "The Devil's Thumb."
HINTS TO YOSEMITE VISITORS.
Secure stage seats in advance.
Take only hand baggage, unless for a
protracted visit. For a short trip, an out-
ing 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 cloth-
ing 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
Waists of soft material and neutral
shades are appropriate. Avoid white.
Something absolutely soft for neckwear
will be found a great comfort, both by men
Leggings, stout, comfortable shoes, and
heavy, loose gloves, will be found very
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
Those not accustomed to staging or moun-
tain 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
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 with-
A knowledge of horsemanship is not
needed for going on the trails. The most
timid people make the trips with enjoy-
ment. 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 ex-
There is a general store and places for
the sale of photographs, curios and Indian
Treat the Indians with courtesy and con-
sideration, 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
Take your camera.
OFFICIAL TABLE OF DISTANCES AND LIVERY
.The following are the legal rates for
transportation of tourists in and about the
Yosemite Valley :
FROM HOTELS OR PUBLIC
CAMPS, AND RETURN.
£ oj 3
Miles | Each
I i Person
To Cascades, Yosemite and i
Bridal Veil Falls | 16.00 I $ 1.50
To Mirror Lake.
To River View and Bridal I
Veil Falls i 10.41
To New Inspiration Point.
To Happy Isles
To Yosemite Falls
Continued on next page.
FROM HOTELS OR PUBLIC
CAMPS, AND RETURN.
To Vernal and Nevada Falls
To Yosemite Falls and Eagle
To Glacier Point and Sen-
To Yosemite Point
To Eagle Peak
To Vernal and Nevada Falls
and Glacier Point (Con-
tinuous 1 rip)
To Glacier Point, Sentinel
Dome and Fissures
To Old Inspiration Point and
To Vernal and Nevada Falls
and Cloud's Rest (Same
Charges for Guide (Includ-
ing Horse) When Furnished
Rate for Party
of Four or
Rate for Party
of Less Than
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 Superin-
3. All distances are estimated from the Superin-
SUPPLEMENTARY TABLE OF DISTANCES.
FROM SUPERINTENDENT'S OFFICE.
Bridal Veil Falls 4
Yosemite Falls, base %
Upper Yosemite Fall, base 2%
Upper Yosemite Fall, top 4^4
Little Yosemite Valley 8
Glacier Point (short trail) 4%
Glacier Point (via Nevada Falls) 14%
INTERPRETATION OF INDIAN NAMES.
The Indians had names for all the prom-
inent features of the Yosemite Valley, and
these have been variously translated (some-
times with considerable poetic license), and
variously spelled. The translations given
below are as literal as posible, 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 rela-
tion to the Indian names, but were be-
stowed by the soldiers of the Mariposa
Battalion at the time the Valley was dis-
covered. 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 valley."
Yo-sem'-i-te — "Full-grown grizzly bear."
Po-ho'-no (Bridal Veil) — "A puffing
wind. ' '
Loi'-ya (The Sentinel) — "A signal sta-
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 ) — i ' 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) — Interpreta-
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)— " Fall-
ing 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-yo w' ( Mt. Watkins ) — "Juniper
Mountain. ' '
To-ko'-ya (North Dome)— "The Basket."
Tis-sa'-ack (Half Dome) — A character in
Mah'-ta (Cap of Liberty) — Said to mean
Pi-wei'-ack (Vernal Fall) — Said to mean
* ' Sparkling water. ' '
Le-ham'-i-tee (Indian Canyon) — "The
place of the arrow- wood. ' 9
Hum-mo / (Devil's Thumb)— "The Lost
Arrow. ' '
Ah-wei'-ya ( Mirror Lake) --' ' Quiet Water. ' '
Too-loo'-lo-wei-ack ( Illillouette Fall) — In-
Wah'-wo-nah — "Big Tree." (Now com-
monly spelled and pronounced Wa-wo'-
HEIGHTS OF YOSEMITE'S WATERFALLS.
Bridal Veil 940
Yosemite (Upper 1,600 ft.; Lower 400 ft.) 2,634
Royal Arch 2,000
YOSEMITE'S PEAKS AND DOMES.
WITH ALTITUDES ABOVE FLOOB OF VALLEY.
(The Valley Floor is about 4,000 feet above
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
NAMES OF INDIAN NUMERALS.
Te- tow'-ok Seven
Larger numbers are expressed by combinations of
INDIAN WORDS IN COMMON USE.
Wat-too' The Sun
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
Oo'-haw By and By
Now'-tah To Steal
Es-el'-lo Baby or Infant
NAMES OF THE INDIAN TRIBES PLACED
FRESNO AND KINGS RIVER RESERVATIONS
IN 1850 AND 1851.
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
One of the most charming spots on earth, near
the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, on the
Wawona Route to Yosemite Valley.
Splendid Trout Fishing
Elevation, 4,000 Feet
Celebrated Mineral Springs
Wawona Hotel Co.
The finest view of the
Valley is to be had from
™ Artist's Point ==
But views from all points,
in genuine platinum prints
(black and white, and sepia)
also in Velox, bromide and
other papers, may be had at
Opposite the Postofflce
FREE EXHIBIT OF PHOTOGRAPHS
Yosemite Valley Store
NELSON E. SALTER, Proprietor
Yosemite - - - California
A specialty made of
A fresh line of
Tents and complete
Parties Outfitted for
High Sierra Camp-
Write for Prices and Information
J. B. COOK, Proprietor.
Situated on the Bank of the River
Directly Opposite the
TABLE FIRST CLASS
Western Union Telegraph, Express and
Post Offices in Connection with this Hotel.
Stage Seats Reserved. Express and Post
Office Money Orders Cashed.
For further Information, address
J. B. COOK, YOSEMITE, CAL.,
or any of the Agencies
Conducted Under the Management
of the Sentinel Hotel
Situated just to the right of the Yosem-
ite Falls, in a magnificent grove of black
oaks, in the ideal spot of all Yosemite. At
the camp will be found Galen Clark, the
discoverer of the Mariposa Grove of Big
Trees, and one of the first white men to
enter the Yosemite Valley. Mr. Clark is
probably more familiar with Yosemite
and its Indian legends than any other liv-
ing exponent and consequently makes an
interesting guest at the camp fire in the
Camp Yosemite coupons accepted at
the Glacier Point Camp without additional
cost to the holder.
For further information, address
J. B. COOK, Yosemite, Cal.
or any of the Agencies
BooI^s by Galen Clark
"Indians of the Yosemite"
Their History, Customs and Traditions
'The Big Trees of California"
Their History and Characteristics
These books contain the latest and
most authoritative information on
the Big Trees and Yosemite Valley,
and should be read by all visitors
to this wonderful region. The cloth- «
bound copies (without advertising
pages) make handsome gifts or ap-
For sale by dealers, or will be sent post
paid by the author on receipt of price.
Cloth, $1.00; Paper, 50 cents.
GET POSTED ON CALIFORNIA
"Railroad Blue Book"
The most comprehensive pocket
guide for the transportation sys-
tems of the Pacific Coast. Rates
of fare, elevations, populations and
complete index for all railroad and
The pioneer guide for the tourist
and pleasure seeker. A description
of the well known resorts and how
they are reached.
"Summer Trips for 1907"
This is the eighth annual edition of
the best known guide to the sum-
mer resorts. Get one before they
are all gone.
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FREE INFORMATION BUREAUS
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789 Market St. 222 So. Spring St.
San Francisco Los Angeles
Being a stranger and visitor in
Yosemite, what you NOW most
desire and need is
Souvenir and Guide
1907 Edition and up to date
This is not an ordinary stock guide
book, but one full of choice Yosemite
matter, both historical and descriptive.
The illustrations are good, too. You
not only need this book here, but you will
also need it when you return home, for it
will then help you to describe what you
have already seen here.
D. J. FOLEY, Publisher, "Tourist" Office,
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Also Publisher of the "Yosemite Tourist," the
Valley paper, put up for mailing at 10c per copy
In Touring California
Hotel del Monte
California's Beautiful Winter
and Summer Hotel
Weather is ideal the year round
for surf-bathing, hunting, auto-
mobiling, polo and pony racing.
You can play golf every day in
the year. A full eighteen-hole
course, with green and tees
always green — the finest in the
Through Parlor Car from Los Angeles
Direct to the Hotel
GEO. P. SNELL, Manager
DEL MONTE, CALIFORNIA
9 Hon? from San Francisco— 16 Hours from Los Angeles
COMFORTABLE - DUSTLESS - CONVENIENT
SAN 80 MILE *mr
A first-class, up-to-date, standard gauge railroad.
Fine vestibule trains for convenience of patrons.
Luxurious observation cars a special feature.
The quickest and most scenic route to Yosemite.*
two days' hot. dusty, tiresome staging.
..four hours in an observation car..
Write O. W. LEHMER, Traf. Mgr.
YOSEMITE VALLEY RAILROAD CO.
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AN OVERDUE FEE IFTHIS BOOK IS NOT
RETURNED TO THE LIBRARY ON OR
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.• ' &&