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Miwok weren’t native to Yosemite

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Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:21 am, Wed May 4, 2011.

This letter is concerning your article about the Haggin Museum docents going to Yosemite to learn Miwok methods of collecting plants.

What many people don’t realize is that Miwoks were not indigenous to Yosemite. The original Native people of Yosemite were Paiutes, not Miwoks. The Miwok entered Yosemite later, as white settlers and the military took control of Yosemite Valley.

According to all early accounts, Miwoks were afraid to enter Yosemite. In Miwok, “yosemite” means “they are killers.” The Miwok were the Indian scouts for the Mariposa Battalion as the army came in to remove the “troublesome” Ahwahneechees, who were Paiutes.

The original Yosemite Indians, led by Chief Tenaya, were Paiutes and today they have been erased from Yosemite National Park’s history in favor of the military’s Indian scouts.

David Andrews


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