Ishi must be tired. For 160 years, people have hunted him and other California Indians. In the mid-nineteenth century, settlers, miners, and ranchers tracked Ishi and his family in revenge for the killing of livestock. In the early twentieth century, anthropologists trailed after Ishi, searching for North America’s “last wild Indian.” In 2000, Maidu and Pit River tribal members tracked down his brain, which Dr. Saxton Pope had removed at Ishi’s autopsy and Professor Alfred Kroeber had sent to the Smithsonian. In 2012, photographers Byron Wolfe and Troy Jollimore continued the quest to capture Ishi, visiting Deer Creek in search of his wilderness. Settlers, anthropologists, and indigenous people have hounded Ishi for different purposes. Understanding why people hunt Ishi tells us much about how Californians envision Indians and their past, present, and future.
The hunting of Ishi dates to the mid-nineteenth century. After the California Gold Rush, miners, ranchers, and farmers invaded California and occupied or expelled Indians from seemingly unused areas. Domesticated livestock trampled the food sources that indigenous people harvested and chased away deer. In response, California Indians killed livestock, both as a source of food and as a symbolic attack on the animals that troubled their economic systems. In April 1871, four cowboys hunted a small band of Yahis, which included Ishi. While working in the Sacramento Valley, the four men came across a trail of blood, presumably from one of the cows the men herded. Following the track, the cowboys flushed some Yahis cutting chunks of flesh from a dead steer. The Yahis fled the scene. Rather than pursue them, the cowboys returned to their camp, found a hunting dog, and stalked the Indians to a cave. The hunters opened fire, killing about thirty Yahis in what one historian has called “the last known large massacre of California Indians.”¹ Ishi was one of the few survivors of this band.
Portrait of Ishi by E.H. Kemp, July 1912. Courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Regents of the University of California.
The so-called Kingsley Cave Massacre culminated more than one hundred years of hunting California Indians. In the eighteenth century, Spanish Franciscan priests and soldiers tracked down native people who fled the missions. After independence, Mexican officials trailed California Indians who stole horses from ranchos and sold them to fur traders. Beginning in the 1850s, miners and ranchers hunted California Indians accused of killing livestock or ambushing settlers.
What prompted Euro-Americans and Americans to hunt California Indians? In part, they considered Indians socially and biologically inferior. Franciscans believed California Indians were children who, without the Franciscans, would quickly satiate their “brutal appetites.” Franciscans pursued California Indians, especially those who ran away from the missions, to protect them from themselves. Americans, on the other hand, argued California Indians were a racially degraded people. Americans called California Indians “diggers,” a word that rhymes with the racial epithet attached to African Americans. The racial pseudoscience favored by many white Americans at the time argued that California Indians had dark skins and were, therefore, closer to animals than white men—and so, Americans hunted California Indians because they considered them little better than wild animals.²
Racial ideology only partially justified the hunting of California Indians. Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans also pursued California Indians they considered criminals. Franciscans believed California Indians owed a spiritual debt to the priests once they entered the missions and accepted baptism. Leaving the mission was tantamount to breaking an indentured servant contract, and Indians needed to return to the mission.³
Both Mexicans and Americans tracked down Indians for the theft of property, such as horses and cattle. In nineteenth-century California, men like those depicted “protecting the settlers” in J. Ross Browne’s The Coast Rangers hunted Indians to protect American lives and property from Indians. Americans, like the four cowboys, linked the acquisition of property to their social identities. An attack on one was an attack on all and deserved retribution.4
Ishi’s death mask, 1920. Courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Regents of the University of California.
Hunting Indians had disastrous consequences for California’s indigenous people. In the late eighteenth century, more than 300,000 Indians lived in California. By the time of the Gold Rush, 150,000 Indians lived within the state’s boundaries. The worst, of course, was yet to come. By 1900, the hunting of California Indians, in conjunction with disease and starvation, reduced the population to little more than 25,000. The near eradication of California Indians was the ultimate desire of a settler society that needed indigenous people to disappear, so that their land in particular, and California as a state, could be a country for white men and white families. Ishi’s story is the most famous of these narratives of hunting California Indians and the dramatic population decline among Native Californians. By 1911, the hunting of Yahi had apparently reduced their population to this one man.
The hunting of Ishi was not always physically violent. Beginning in 1909, anthropologists from the University of California tracked Ishi. Two years earlier, surveyors had been looking for a suitable site for a dam on Mill Creek in rural northeastern California when they came upon Ishi’s camp. A concealed Ishi welcomed the surveyors into camp with two warning arrows shot from a bow. After disturbing an elderly woman, likely Ishi’s mother, and ransacking the camp, the men informed Chico and Oroville newspapers of the “wild Indians” in the mountains. Although there were some skeptics, many believed the story. Ishi and other Yahis had spent the years between the Kingsley Creek massacre and the invasion of their camp pilfering food, glass, and metal from cabins. Word of the discovery of Ishi’s camp reached anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, who dispatched one of his protégés, T.T. Waterman, to hunt for these elusive Indians. Unlike the cowboys who perpetrated the Kingsley Cave Massacre, Kroeber and Waterman did not want to kill Indians. They wanted to study them before they disappeared.
Kroeber pursued “wild Indians” because he believed California Indian cultures were vanishing. In 1900, Kroeber arrived in California and soon assumed the reins of the Hearst Museum and the University of California’s anthropology department. Kroeber embarked on a long career studying California Indian languages and cultures. Following the guidance of his mentor and academic adviser Franz Boas, Kroeber endeavored to salvage what was remaining of California Indian cultures and languages before they disappeared in the face of modernity. Kroeber tracked reliable informants among the Mojaves, Yuroks, and Yukis. The possibility of finding “wild Indians,” supposedly uncontaminated by modernity, was too much for Kroeber to pass up, so he dispatched Waterman to the rugged northeastern mountains of California to track down Ishi and bring him in.
Waterman’s two trips to Deer Creek were fruitless, but Kroeber’s pursuit would not be in vain. In 1911, Ishi turned up at a slaughterhouse in Oroville and was subsequently captured by workers, who turned him over to the local sheriff. Word of the captured “wild man” again reached Kroeber, who obtained permission from the Office of Indian Affairs to bring Ishi from Oroville, where he stayed in the town jail, to San Francisco. For the next five years, until his death, Ishi lived in San Francisco, working as a janitor at Kroeber’s museum, sharing the Yahi language with anthropologists and demonstrating Yahi craft making (especially arrowhead making) for museum patrons. In 1914, Kroeber insisted that Ishi return to Deer Creek, where he hoped that Ishi would show him what life was like in the wild. For Kroeber, the wilderness was a haven from modernity and urbanization. Kroeber took pictures of Ishi hunting, calling rabbits, and butchering a deer. He and Ishi also mapped the Yahi homeland. For Ishi, though, Deer Creek was not some pristine, premodern landscape. Instead, it was a landscape haunted by those killed by modern Indian hunters, such as the four cowboys at Kingsley Cave. Ishi wept when he came upon the location of his mother’s burial. Another day, Ishi came to camp and told the others that he thought he had heard his deceased mother and sister’s voices on one of the trails.5
That Kroeber’s hunting of Ishi was not physically violent does not mean it was benign. Kroeber’s anthropology depicted California Indians as primitive, echoing the racialist ideas of the nineteenth century. California Indians lived in “tribelets” not “tribes.” They did not practice warfare, but participated in small-scale battles where no one was really hurt. Kroeber created essentialist categories about California Indian identity that denied Ishi and other native people’s modernity.
In 1914, when Ishi returned to Oroville on the way to Deer Creek, town residents did not believe it was the same man who had been captured near the slaughterhouse. Homer Speegle, who saw Ishi in the Oroville jail in 1911, noted that Ishi was considerably heavier than before and wore American-style clothing, hardly the trappings of an Indian, let alone the last wild Yahi. Because American Indians could never be modern, according to Kroeber’s standard, they had to be vanishing. Kroeber’s version of Ishi has since stood for the fate of all California Indians, who ostensibly disappeared in the early twentieth century only to be, in some people’s view, shockingly resurrected in the late twentieth century with the advent of Indian gaming.
In the mid-1990s, another group took up the pursuit of Ishi: California Indians themselves. Art Angle, a Maidu from Oroville, founded the Butte County Native American Cultural Committee, with the goal of repatriating Maidu remains from museums. Angle knew Ishi’s story and wanted to return his ashes to the Oroville area. He had also heard rumors of Ishi’s autopsy and the removal of his brain, and he did not want to bring Ishi’s remains home incomplete. Anthropologist Orin Starn met with Angle and tracked Ishi’s brain to a vat in a Smithsonian storage facility in College Park, Maryland. The Butte County committee and Starn met with Smithsonian officials and initiated the process of repatriating Ishi’s brain to California. The Smithsonian, however, returned Ishi’s brain to the Redding Rancheria, home of the Yahi’s linguistic relatives, the Pit River people, rather than to Angle’s Butte County committee. In 2000, Mickey Gimmell and other Pit River people buried Ishi’s brain and ashes at an undisclosed location along Deer Creek.6
Angle, Starn, and, eventually, Gimmell’s pursuit of Ishi were part of a cultural and political renewal among twentieth-century California Indians. The origins of this revival are rooted in post–World War II California. Marie Potts, a Maidu activist, worked with other California Indians to agitate for land claims in the 1940s and 1950s and was a member of the National Congress on American Indians. In 1969, American Indians in San Francisco occupied Alcatraz Island. Two years later, Mickey Gimmell, members of the American Indian Movement, and other Pit River people took over Pit River land that was owned by Pacific Gas and Electric. In 1979, Tillie Hardwick, a Pomo woman, led a Supreme Court case that eventually overturned the dreadful termination of California Indian tribes earlier in the twentieth century. In 1988, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians won a court case that paved the way for the expansion of Indian gaming in California and the rest of the United States.
Early on, Ishi was not a symbol for this tribal sovereignty movement. He lacked the charisma of leaders such as Geronimo, Sitting Bull, or Crazy Horse, none of whom were Californians. But the efforts of the Butte County committee and Redding Rancheria to track down Ishi’s remains and properly bury them in northern California were assertions of sovereignty, and so Ishi became a symbol of reclaiming what has been lost to the ravages of California colonialism.
Since the 1760s, in one way or another, Ishi has been vital to stories Californians tell about themselves and their state. At first, Ishi and his kin represented the savage Indian on the frontier, indiscriminately killing livestock as well as white men, women, and children, and deserving a violent end himself. Ishi has symbolized the anthropological Indian, practicing precontact ways supposedly uncontaminated by modernity. Ishi has signified tribal sovereignty and self-determination, the renaissance of indigenous politics and culture made possible by the survival of indigenous people and nations, and the economic opportunities of Indian gaming.
Yet, Ishi has also been elusive. He survived genocide. Ishi was never the “wild man” or “stone age man” that Kroeber and others depicted. The tussle between the Butte County Native American Cultural Committee and the Redding Rancheria over the return of his brain and ashes to Deer Creek revealed unresolved interethnic divisions among northern California’s Indian nations.
Although writer Troy Jollimore and photographer Byron Wolfe pursued Ishi’s landscape, history, and memory, and not Ishi himself, Jollimore noted that he wanted to experience something associated with Ishi, something “mystical or numinous.” Instead the experience was “ordinary and matter of fact.”7
As with many aspects of American Indian history, people often look for those things that tell them something about themselves, not about indigenous people. People have searched for Ishi not necessarily to learn more about Ishi, but to inform their own understandings of the world. This may be one reason that Ishi has avoided capture. Perhaps it is a good time to stop hunting Ishi and let him rest.
1 Benjamin Madley, “American Genocide: The California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873” (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2009), 490–91.
2 On the racial ideas applied to California Indians, see James Rawls, Indians of California: The Changing Image (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984) and Tomás Almaguer, Racial Fault Lines: The Historical Origins of White Supremacy in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).
3 On California Indians and the Spanish mission system, see the exceptional work of Steven Hackel, Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769–1850 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005) and James Sandos, Converting California: Indians and Franciscans in the Missions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).
4 On the Mexican and American periods, see Albert Hurtado, Indian Survival on the California Frontier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), Brendan C. Lindsay, Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846–1873 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012), and Madley, “American Genocide.”
5 One of the most famous books to consider Ishi’s life is Theodora Kroeber, Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002, 1961). A revision, that places Ishi’s life in the context of modernization and ideas of wilderness, is Douglas Sackman, Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). Ishi scholars should also consult Richard Burrill’s encyclopedic work Ishi’s Untold Story in His First World: A Biography of the Last of His Band of Yahi Indians in North America, Parts I–IV, (Red Bluff: The Anthro Company, 2011–2012).
6 Orin Starn covers the repatriation of Ishi’s remains in Ishi’s Brain: In Search of America’s Last “Wild” Indian (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004). The issue of repatriation also produced a retrospective on anthropology, Ishi and his place in California history. See Karl Kroeber and Clifton Kroeber, eds., Ishi in Three Centuries (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003).
Three hundred years ago in the Mediterranean isle of Majorca, the man who would become known as the father of the California missions was born. “Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions” at the Huntington Library commemorates the tricentennial of his birth with a visually stunning exhibition that weaves together the intertwined stories of Serra’s career as a missionary to Spanish America and the complex Indian responses to mission life through rich artifacts of material culture drawn from both Spain and early California. It is open through January 6.
On display are important documentary records of Serra’s own life and the founding of early California missions, along with maps, paintings, reliquaries, and early Indian artifacts, comprising nearly 250 objects from The Huntington’s collections and sixty lending institutions in the US, Mexico, and Spain. The exhibition gives voice to the wide range of Native American experiences in California missions and captures, through documents, artifacts, and oral histories, their spirit of cultural resilience in the face of pandemic illness and the incursion of new cultures. Audiovisual features help convey the rich cultural diversity of the nearly 350,000 Native Americans who lived in California at time of Serra’s arrival, and the survival of indigenous traditions through centuries of upheaval.
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Conveying the full arc of the missions’ history, the exhibition moves forward in time to explore the secularization of the missions and the subsequent displacement and social marginalization of Indians during the annexation of Alta California into the US. Displays focusing on romanticized “myths of the missions,” including The Mission Play and the popular Ramona stories, stand in stark counterpoint to the documentary records and photographs of real-life missions, challenging visitors to think critically about the place of missions within state history and legend.
Co-curator Steven Hackel’s new biography, Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father (352pp, $27), complements the exhibition by painting a full and nuanced portrait of the famous Franciscan missionary in great scholarly detail, with a particular emphasis on the cultural, intellectual, and theological contexts of Serra’s upbringing and early career in Mallorca and how these experiences informed his mission work in Baja and Alta California. Together, the exhibition and biography tell a fascinating history of a man whose memory is lined with an aura of saintliness and whose legacy is imbued with controversy.
Paiute oral traditions and the Owens Valley Water Wars
In 1935, Susie Baker, an Owens Valley Paiute elder from Big Pine, California, told the following story: A giant approached the Alabama Hills, a range of small hills and protruding rock formations on the Valley’s southern edge.1 As the giant reached the hills, he screamed at the top of his great voice. Frightened, people scurried from their hiding places. As they fled, the giant picked them up and killed them. He planned to take his victims home for a feast with his wife. When the giant reached Tinemaha, a peak that looms over the Owens Valley, he again screamed at the top of his voice. More people ran from their hiding places, and the giant picked them up, too, and killed them. He traveled as far north as Tupueseenata (Hammil Valley) and then decided to return home with his prey.
The Alabama Hills. PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE BERADI.
But the waterbaby, a spirit that lives in lakes, grew tired of the giant’s screaming, which had frightened him several times. Waterbaby knew when the giant would pass by his home in the Owens Lake, so he went near the trail, lay down on a rock, and waited. When the giant approached, screaming, he saw the waterbaby lying on the rock. The giant asked where his mother and father were, but the waterbaby refused to answer. The giant pressed the waterbaby’s little fingers to see if it would scream, but the waterbaby never said a word. The giant pressed his little head, but the waterbaby did not even mumble. Again the giant asked, “Little boy, where is your mother and father?” The waterbaby said nothing. The giant pinched the waterbaby’s finger, saying, “You have a very little hand and pretty little body.” The waterbaby sat up and seized the giant by the forefinger. The giant exclaimed, “Let me go, you must have thought I was your dad or mother but I am not!” The giant tried to escape with his great strength, but it was useless. The waterbaby stood up, dragged the giant to the edge of Owens Lake, and threw him into the water. Then the waterbaby jumped in after the giant and took him down to the bottom. Years later, the waterbaby took the giant’s bones and threw them opposite the Alabama Hills, across the Owens River, which drains into the lake. The remains of the giant’s bones are still there, Baker informed the younger Paiute woman who recorded her story.
There are multiple meanings to this story, not only for the Owens Valley Paiutes but for all who have an interest in the Owens Valley. Scholars and folklorists know that such oral traditions are far from fantasy or quaint myths. Baker, seventy years old at the time, purposefully used the story to contemplate the history and consequences of a crucial event in California history. She concluded her narrative by saying that the rock on which the waterbaby waited for the giant still existed, but “It may be destroyed by the Los Angeles aqueduct builders. The waterbaby’s home may be still there. I do hope it’s there.”2
Owens Lake. PHOTOGRAPH BY ALAN LEVINE.
The aqueduct to which Susie Baker refers is, of course, the famous channel that siphoned water from the Owens Valley toward Los Angeles, and its construction was a seminal part of the Owens Valley Water Wars.
The Water Wars
A popular topic of study in California’s history, the Water Wars have inspired many books and the film Chinatown. Authors have used the Owens Valley saga to assess the environmental and economic causes and consequences of water diversion.3 Yet in too many of these histories, scholars ignore the Owens Valley’s Indigenous inhabitants. Paiutes may appear as static “first inhabitants” of the Valley, but then they disappear, allegedly conquered by Owens Valley “pioneers.” They were thought to have had little at stake in the Owens Valley Water Wars—a sentiment that Susie Baker refuted. Water and the conflict over this precious resource were on the minds of Owens Valley Paiutes when they told oral narratives in the 1930s.4
Beginning in 1905, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power bought land and water rights from Owens Valley settlers. In 1913, the Department of Water completed an aqueduct that brought the water from Owens Lake and Owens River the 230 miles to Los Angeles. In the 1920s, conflicts between Owens Valley farmers and the City of Los Angeles developed. Drought had reduced the amount of water available for productive farming in the valley, and angry farmers attempted to sabotage the aqueduct. Eventually, the farmer rebellion failed and they sold more land and water rights to Los Angeles. By the 1930s, the city of Los Angeles owned 95 percent of the Owens Valley’s farm and ranch land.5 Through all this, the Paiutes and their oral traditions remained.
Owens River. PHOTOGRAPH BY RALPHMAN.
In 1935, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber of the University of California secured a state public works project grant and enlisted anthropology students to canvass the state and interview native peoples. Students Frank Essene, Frederick Hulse, and Abraham Halpern traveled to the Owens Valley to conduct their fieldwork. Anthropologists often hired younger Paiutes to interview and interpret the oral testimony of elderly Paiutes, which enabled Paiutes to control and shape historical and contemporary narratives. Many of these oral traditions involved or were related to water.
Oral traditions, those stories told for more than one generation that reflect social, economic, cultural, and political contexts, represent the ways in which indigenous people remembered and told their histories.6 Paiutes related their ethnogenesis to a specific river, which enunciated their relationship with water, and identified the location of springs as a way to define a historical consciousness that depends on place rather than chronology.7
Paiute oral traditions not only contemplate the past, they intentionally reflect and comment upon contemporary events. The diversion of water from the Owens Valley was one of the most important events in Paiute lives and politics, if not in all of California. Paiutes revised their oral traditions in a struggle between themselves and Anglo settlers over the meanings and consequences of Settler Colonialism in California.8 In their oral traditions, Paiutes argued that the war began at Paiute creation, not in 1905, when Frederick Eaton began to purchase land in the Owens Valley. The antagonist, rather than the City of Los Angeles, was more often than not the Owens Valley settler. And the ultimate victors in the wars may not have been the city of Los Angeles, but the Paiutes themselves—their systems of knowledge and their efforts to reclaim water.
Identity and water
At a basic level, Paiute oral traditions define Paiute identity. In the 1920s, George Collins, a Paiute man in his thirties or forties from Fish Springs, said that the Owens Valley Paiutes called themselves nün’wa paya hūp ca’á otūŭ’mu, “we are water ditch coyote children.” In one version of their creation story, Coyote the creator placed Paiutes next to the “water ditch,” or the Owens River, that runs through the Valley.9
Anthropologists lump Owens Valley Paiutes into the Great Basin cultural area and have attempted to define them by their language and economy. Paiutes speak Mono, a dialect of the Numic language mostly spoken in the present-day states of Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and California. Archaeologists and anthropologists believe Paiutes settled the Owens Valley as early as 600 C.E., but archaeological evidence shows that indigenous people occupied the Valley 5,000 or perhaps 6,500 years ago. A common trait of Great Basin Indians was their ability to adapt a hunting and harvesting economy to the arid environment east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the Rocky Mountains.10
But whereas anthropological cultural areas, such as the “Great Basin,” identified practices that indigenous people of a specific region shared, and archaeologists endeavored to discern a specific time or date when Paiute culture appeared in the Owens Valley, Paiutes demonstrated the importance of place in their sense of self. Paiute ethnogenesis occurred next to a known and specific body of water; they were not “water ditch coyote children” until Coyote created or placed them next to the Owens River. Oral traditions explicitly linked Paiute identity to Paiute water, and water to Paiute worldview.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK KOVALCHEK.
All things, especially water, are sentient in Paiute cosmology, with human emotions and abilities. In one story, a group of women are gathering basket-making materials near a lake at present-day Dyer, Nevada. The women foolishly begin to make fun of the water. Angrily, water leaps out of the lake and attempts to sweep them to the bottom.11 Although the lake fails to take its intended prey, water, like humans, feels insults and attempts to exact revenge for affronts.
Additionally, water possessed its own spirits, such as the waterbaby in Baker’s story.12 Often, waterbabies were troublesome sprites associated with bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers, although they also functioned as spirit helpers for healers. Another oral tradition relates that a group of children were playing at Pasasa’a (now known as Casa Diablo Hot Springs and home to a geothermal power plant). An impetuous boy begins to throw rocks into Pasasa’a, despite his peers’ warnings. A waterbaby emerges from the spring, abducts the boy and takes him under the water.13 Such stories about water revealed the way in which Paiutes understood and related to the world in which they lived—namely, that aspects of the physical world possessed access to supernatural forces. Moreover, these stories warned children of the real dangers of playing too close to springs, creeks, or lakes.
Paiutes animated water by imbuing it with puha, power or “a force or energy” that everything in the world possesses. Puha can have positive and harmful effects; it can be a generative or destructive force in the People’s lives. Yet the relationship between puha and water might be much more than just possessing power. The Paiute word for water—paya—sounds like puha, the word for power.14 A Southern Paiute man from Las Vegas described puha in liquid terms: it “flows into and down the sides of mountains.”15 The Paiute worldview accorded water an important role and place in the People’s lives.
The places of history
Paiute histories emphasize place, rather than chronology.16 Oral traditions and historical narratives move across space, not time; from place to place, not from date to date. Consider again the story of the giant, who traveled from one distinct place to another on the Owens Valley Paiute landscape. The giant walked from the Alabama Hills to Tinemaha to Tupueseenata and then returned to Owens Lake. Baker knew the exact location of the rock on which the waterbaby waited for the giant. Other stories about water, too, were clear about where they occurred. We know that the story of the basket-makers took place at Dyer, and the story of the children occurred at Pasasa’a. In the Owens Valley as well as the Yukon Territory, specific places serve as “anchors of memory,” linking human history to place.17 We don’t know when these stories occurred, but they are “true” from a Paiute perspective because they occurred at places known to historical and contemporary Paiutes.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK KOVALCHEK.
Looking into the stories deeply, we see a narrative structure emerge that adheres to topographic features. In Paiute cosmology, high places such as the Alabama Hills or Tinemaha are associated with positive manifestations of puha. Hence, puha “flows down” from mountains. Benevolent spirits live on mountain peaks; doctors go to the tops of mountains to seek visions and puha itself. Low-lying areas, such as Owens Lake, Pasasa’a, and other bodies of water, usually (but not always) have negative manifestations of puha. Waterbabies emerge from water and snatch women and children. In between high and low areas are the plains, or Owens Valley itself, an area of stasis or what geographer Yi-Fu Tuan describes as “space.”18 Paiutes structure their oral narratives to replicate this understanding of their topography. Oral traditions begin in space, either on the plains or at the foot of the hills, and proceed to high or low places. The story of the giant originates at the foot of the Alabama Hills and then moves from named place to named place before the giant meets his end at Owens Lake.19 Other oral traditions about water adhere to this topographic narrative structure.
The Frog Sisters and Rattlesnake
Here is another story Susie Baker told in 1935: The Frog sisters lived at a spring. Rattlesnake, who lived about one mile or more away, planned to steal the spring away from them. He kept very close watch until he had a chance. One afternoon, when the Frog sisters were fast asleep and no one was around, Rattlesnake came down to the spring and drank as much as he could, holding the rest of the water in his mouth. He took every bit of the water in the spring and started for his home. He was about a half-mile away when the Frog sisters woke up and to their surprise found no water in their spring. They immediately investigated and guessed what had become of their water. They pursued Rattlesnake and saw him climbing up the hill. The Frog sisters followed him up the hill as fast as they could. Upon seeing the sisters in pursuit, Rattlesnake increased his speed, but as he ascended the mountain, he became tired, coughed, and spat out some of the water. He continued on his journey until the Frog sisters overtook him, stopped him, tickled him, and made him spit all the water he had in his mouth. The Frog sisters drank the water and took it back to their spring where they deposited the water in its rightful place.
This story embodies the topographic narrative structure that undergirded Paiute oral culture and history. As we can visualize, the story begins with Rattlesnake on the plains, moving down to the spring and stealing the water. Afterward, Rattlesnake climbs a hill, where the story’s positive resolution occurs. Additionally, Baker used the Paiute language to map the Owens Valley landscape. Baker identified the place where Frog sisters lived as ya qua java joh (Frog Spring). She called the place where the Frog sisters overtook Rattlesnake togo wamo cha qua tepu (Snake Spat Out).20
The Paiute landscape functioned as a mnemonic device, reminding Paiutes where valuable sources of water exist—essential knowledge in an arid environment.21 In 1935 Mattie Bulpitt, a ninety-five-year-old Paiute woman from Round Valley, told a variation of the Frog sisters and Rattlesnake story: “[Frog] owned a spring about five miles out, north of Big Pine and it still is there just below the state highway.” She also identified the locale of Snake Spat Out: “These willows can be seen still to this day near the top of the mountain just off the main state highway.”22 The places mentioned in Paiute oral traditions were not atavistic memories; they were meaningful locations that, on a daily basis, Paiutes saw and into which they invested meaning.
When Paiutes moved into the Owens Valley approximately 1,500 years ago, they grafted meanings on the area’s mountains, hills, valleys and waterways. These early Paiutes used language, stories and place names to create a home in the Owens Valley. They named the places in their homeland—the Owens Valley—in their own language: Mattie Bulpitt called the places “Frog Spring” and “Snake Spat Out.” With these oral and historical narratives, Paiutes transformed nebulous space into place and made a political claim on it. Naming a place is laden with power relationships and the act of naming generates debates over the meaning of those names.23
Early twentieth-century settler historians of the Owens Valley and Inyo County challenged Paiute ideas about history and the land. William Chalfant, a local news-paperman and contemporary in age to Susie Baker, wrote Owens Valley and Inyo County histories, constructing a usable past that glorified American settler colonialism.24 Settler histories use Indians as foils, introducing them as premodern people who gave way to civilized settlers. Chalfant dedicated his book “to the pioneers” and to his father, who was a “Pioneer of Inyo and [a] pioneer in endeavor[ing] for her moral as well as material growth.” Chalfant suggested that Paiutes failed to work for Owens Valley’s social and economic development. Then, he went so far as to deny Paiute indigenousness in two chapters on Paiute cultural practices, freezing them in the time in which they encountered Anglo settlers in the mid-nineteenth century, and denying them any history beyond. He argued that no one, not even the Paiutes, had occupied the Valley for long before Anglo Americans arrived. The Indigenous artists who made rock paintings in the Owens Valley, he claimed, were interlopers. He further argued that archaeological remains were the products of a “wandering warrior from some other region” and not of a long Paiute occupation. Finally, Chalfant provided detail into the process by which the Owens valley, river and lake received their name: Captain John C. Frémont named the area’s predominant features after a fur trading associate, Richard Owens.25 In the Owens Valley, as in southern New England, Settler naming-practices replaced “Indians in their homelands” and argued for the “indigeneity” of the Settlers themselves.26
Owens River at sunset. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARSHAL HEDIN.
Paiute oral traditions challenge Chalfant’s arguments. They argue that Paiutes had occupied the Owens Valley for a long time and possess a deep understanding of the area’s history through knowledge of places and what occurred there. Although “pioneers” had arrived in the Owens Valley and displaced the Paiutes—Mattie Bulpitt told her listeners—the place names, historical actors, and tellers of history remained. Although she did not explicitly refer to Chalfant’s work, likely, she and Susie Baker knew the meanings Settlers had embedded onto the Paiute landscape, and they refuted his arguments with their oral traditions. The story of Rattlesnake and the Frog sisters reasserted a Paiute landscape, known to them, defiant of American colonialism, which began in the 1850s.
Anglo colonialism and Paiute displacement
In the mid-nineteenth century, Anglo Americans arrived in the Owens Valley, which sparked conflict over natural resources. Jennie Cashbaugh, a seventy-year-old Paiute woman from Bishop, noted that “Trouble arose every now and then as the white people wanted more water.”27 American Settlers established a mining, pastoral, and agricultural economy in the Valley, which drained water from Paiute communities and resource areas. Conflict ensued as Paiutes clashed with miners, ranchers, and the military. In 1863, the California Volunteers forcibly removed nearly one thousand Paiutes to Fort Tejón.28 From there, federal officials relocated the Paiutes to the Tule River Reservation, near modern-day Porterville, California. By 1870, very few Paiutes remained at Tule River, for they had returned to the Owens Valley, but by that time, Anglo American farmers and ranchers had claimed much of the best land and water. Paiutes eked out a living by creating a mixed economy of wage labor, hunting, and using the little water available to irrigate gardens and small fields.29
Giving places Anglo American names signified the process by which Anglo Americans exerted rule over the region. Indeed, place-naming worked in concert with Settler economic practices and histories to erase Paiute histories and systems of knowledge. In the 1860s, Confederate sympathizers living in the Owens Valley named the Alabama Hills after the CSS Alabama, which sunk the Union ship Hatteras off the coast of Texas.30 Paiutes reclaimed such places by telling their own narratives about them. The Alabama Hills are not significant because they commemorate a Confederate naval victory, Paiutes tell listeners; they are important because they were the place from which the giant began his rampage and where, ultimately, he ended his journey and his exploitation of the People. Paiutes were not interlopers, recent arrivals or wandering warriors—they had a deep history in the Owens Valley.
An alternative history
If we continue to probe the sometimes murky meanings of oral tradition, other historical meanings and interpretations rise to the surface. Susie Baker deliberately ended the story of the giant with a reference to a contemporary event, that the rock on which the waterbaby waited for the giant “may be destroyed by the Los Angeles aqueduct builders.”31 Similarly, she concluded the story of Rattlesnake and the Frog sisters, “[ya qua java joh and togo wamo cha qua tepu] were springs at one time, but they are now dry.”32 In other words, in 1935, Frog Spring and Snake Spat Out no longer had water. Why not? Simply, someone had entered the Valley and drunk all the water.
Paiutes used their oral traditions to offer an alternative history of Paiute-American encounters and interpret the impact of those encounters on the water and, therefore, the People of the Owens Valley. “An enduring value of informal storytelling,” anthropologist Julie Cruikshank writes, “is its power to subvert official orthodoxies and to challenge conventional ways of thinking.”33 It is no surprise that the Paiutes called the Owens River the “water ditch,” for they irrigated the Owens Valley for centuries before Anglo Americans arrived. At a town Paiutes named pitana patü, near the modern-day town of Bishop, Paiutes used irrigation ditches to increase the growth of indigenous plants, such as nā’hāvīta (spike rush). In the spring, the town head man announced the beginning of the irrigation season, usually when snow runoff from the southern Sierra caused creeks to rise. Residents of pitana patü then elected or chose a tuvaijü’u, or irrigator, who led a corps of twenty-five men in building a dam out of rocks, brush, sticks, and mud on Bishop Creek. After completing the dam, the tuvaijü’u directed the water into the ditch, which fed northern and southern fields in alternate years.34 Stories about the “water ditch,” then, reposition Paiutes as the indigenous people of the Valley and those who had first used the water.
Owens Valley in the fall. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK KOVALCHEK.
Paiute oral traditions reframed the timing of events. The Owens Valley Water Wars did not begin when Los Angeles Department of Water and Power representatives bought land in the Valley. Rather, the wars’ genesis flows back to creation, when Coyote placed his children next to the “water ditch.” After that, Paiutes productively used Owens Valley’s water by irrigating fields of nā’hāvīta. Then, Anglo Settlers arrived in the Valley, who seemingly could never slake their thirst for water.
Although Los Angeles entered the Valley and preyed on water, Paiutes identified new “villains” or antagonists in this story. In many Owens Valley histories, Los Angeles and its representatives are the story’s bad guys.35 Paiutes told it differently. Jennie Cashbaugh actually had kind words for Los Angeles: “The city of Los Angeles is a different proposition all together,” she said. “They would meet the Indians part way, they realize they have made the Indians homeless and took their work from them, the means of bread and butter they had, just a living but today they are fair enough to compromise with the Federal Government so as to give better land to the Indians to at least make a living.”36 Los Angeles, according to Cashbaugh, promised to work with the Paiutes, something that Owens Valley settlers had never offered. Unlike the settlers, who also “made the Indians homeless,” Los Angeles promised to create a land base for the Paiute and provided jobs in 1930 and 1931 on city-owned ranches, roads, and waterways.37 Settlers, on the other hand, had marginalized Paiutes to the lowest rung of the region’s economic ladder and usurped the best land in the Valley.38 For Paiutes, settlers (the typical victims in Anglo histories of the Owens Valley), not Los Angeles, served as antagonists.
Owens Valley. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK KOVALCHEK.
If Paiutes reframed the chronological narrative of the Owens Valley Water Wars and pointed to new adversaries, they also used their oral traditions to address the unique ways in which the Water Wars affected the People. The disappearance of water particularly harmed Paiute women. When Jennie Cashbaugh described the sedge plants Paiutes gathered, she remarked, “Nā’hāvīta is a taboose class of seed food, [it] cannot be found in the Owens Valley since the Valley went dry. The plant must have all dried up, never to grow again.”39 The development of a mining and pastoral economy in the Owens Valley, and Los Angeles’s siphoning of the Valley’s water, destroyed indigenous food sources, specifically those harvested by Paiute women, and harvesting indigenous plants grounded women’s identities: At Creation, the Paiute Father gave baskets to women in which they could gather plants.40 Without water, women could not perform this essential contribution to the family economy. (Paiute women found job opportunities as domestic workers and washerwomen, but they were poor substitutes for these lost resources.)41
The Los Angeles aqueduct also threatened Paiute systems of knowledge. The aqueduct threatened to destroy the places where Paiute oral traditions occurred. Passing the Alabama Hills in the Owens Valley, Paiutes remember that screaming giant. Passing the rock where waterbaby waited for the giant reminds them of waterbaby’s unusual service to the People. If those places ceased to exist, the history might disappear. Likely, Owens Valley Paiutes had another sobering thought in the 1930s: If the water disappears, what will become of the People? What will become of “water ditch Coyote children”? When Frog Spring and Snake Spat Out were dry, and nā’hāvīta no longer grew in the Owens Valley, the very identity of the People was threatened. In 1935 this was literally true, and it was the result of the colonization of the Owens Valley.
Still, there is a glimmer of hope in these stories, a thought that Paiutes may emerge victorious. The stories of the giant and of Frog sisters refer to a predator entering the Owens Valley, moving across the Paiute landscape and harming the People. Both the giant and Rattlesnake act in ways that mimic the actions of Los Angeles. When the giant walks from Alabama Hills to Tupueseenata, he comes from the direction of Los Angeles (south) and parallels the pattern in which Los Angeles purchased land in the Owens Valley, moving from the south to the north. The Frog sisters story likewise resembles the history of Paiutes, Anglo settlers, and Los Angeles. Someone—Paiute leaders, the Office of Indian Affairs, Owens Valley settlers—was asleep when Rattlesnake crawled into the Valley and stole the water. At this point, it certainly looked bleak for Paiutes and water, with murderous giants and thieving Rattlesnakes.42
The stories’ conclusions, however, offer a positive narrative for the future. For one, the giant story suggests that the Paiutes were prepared for Los Angeles. They already knew that violent and threatening beings could come from the south and invade the north. Paiutes also knew that they and their water had the puha to defeat these large monsters. In parable-like fashion, the oral tradition of the Rattlesnake pointed out the folly of greed. Rattlesnake took too much water, for he could not swallow all of it. He eventually lost all the water and the Frog sisters returned the water to its rightful place. In the end of both stories, diminutive, ostensibly powerless, characters reclaim the water and defeat powerful enemies. The small waterbaby throws the giant into the lake and devours him; the Frog sisters reclaim their water from poisonous Rattlesnake. Although things may have looked bleak in the oral traditions and in 1935 when the women shared these stories, the future need not be. Paiutes had faced large foes like this before and won; Paiute cultural heroes returned the water to its proper place.
In 1935, when Paiute women told these narratives, their leaders were negotiating with the United States and Los Angeles about the future of the Paiute nation. In the early 1930s, the federal government and Los Angeles had recommended removing the Paiutes from their homeland, from the site of the “water ditch” to a new reservation, near modern-day Merced, or to Nevada’s Walker River Reservation. In fact, many of the people interviewed in 1935, such as Cashbaugh and Bulpitt, were children when the federal government removed the Paiutes to Tejón at the end of the 1860s, and they told stories of that difficult experience. Los Angeles’ suggestion for removal resurrected those memories of the forced march to Tejón and the awful living conditions there and at Tule River.43
Between 1935 and 1937, federal officials held outdoor meetings in the Owens Valley to explain the situation to the People. Paiute women appeared at these meetings in equal numbers with Paiute men. Perhaps the stories they told their leaders energized them in their effort to reclaim land, water, and power. At any rate, the Paiute leaders, supported by their elders, insisted they were not leaving. Historian Steven Crum suggests that the Paiutes’ “deep attachment” to the Owens Valley galvanized their resistance to removal.44 Paiute history and oral tradition likewise bolstered their fight to remain near the “water ditch.”
In the end, Paiutes emerged victorious because they avoided removal and displacement. In the 1937 Land Exchange Act, Paiutes and the United States traded 2,914 acres of “previously allotted lands” to Los Angeles for 1,392 acres, which became the Bishop, Big Pine, and Lone Pine reservations.45 The Paiutes would remain next to the “water ditch” forever.
The story, however, did not end there. The Land Exchange Act provided for Paiute water rights, but the federal government failed to secure them from Los Angeles. As part of the exchange, Los Angeles had promised to provide 6,064 acre-feet of water to the Paiutes; but at the same time, the city insisted it could not transfer water rights to the Paiutes without a two-thirds vote by city residents. Moreover, the amount of water promised failed to meet the demands of a growing Paiute population and tribal economic development.46
In 1994, the Department of the Interior investigated the water rights issue, which is still open to debate. The Owens Valley Indian Water Commission—a consortium made up of the Bishop, Big Pine, and Lone Pine Reservations—fights for water rights and, like their oral traditions, hopes for a positive future.47
In their oral traditions, Paiutes told an ethnohistory of water and water rights in Owens Valley, which detailed the destructive consequences of economic change and offered a critique of historical changes in the Valley. Seen in the context of a struggle over water and culture, these stories enable us to see ways in which Paiutes re-envisioned their past and made it usable for contemporary political struggles, providing a snapshot of Paiute interpretations of past, present, and future.
Other histories of the Owens Valley Water Wars have treated Paiutes as bit players, something akin to the background that the Alabama Hills offers for movies. Paiutes were not scenery to the story; they were central to the Water Wars, which threatened the very core of Paiute life. The stories tell us that small, seemingly powerless people can slay the giant and tickle Rattlesnake. Perhaps nothing is more valuable than these oral traditions as a tool for understanding Paiute history, politics, and culture, or as a guide to assist modern-day Paiutes in future struggles for natural resources.
I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their excellent critiques of this essay and for pushing me to improve. I appreciate my friend Louis Warren for soliciting this essay for Boom. Charles Roberts shared research materials with me and directed me to important sources. Damon Akins, Laurie Arnold, Brian Collier, Duane Champagne, Steve Crum and Bridget Ford prodded me to think about this paper in new ways. I thank audiences at Stanford University, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Notre Dame for sitting through my lecture about Paiutes and water. Your questions improved this essay. The American Indian Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University provided space and time for me to write.
1. The Alabama Hills have served as the scenic backdrop of Hollywood films, such as The Ox-Bow Incident, Joe Kidd, Star Trek Generations, Iron Man, and Django Unchained.
2. Susie Baker, Ethnological Documents of the Department and Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1875–1958, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, CA, BANC FILM 2216, (hereafter ED), Reel 149–152, Item 152.4: 296–98.
3. See Roman Polanski, dir., Chinatown (Paramount, 1974); William Kahrl, Water and Power: The Conflict Over Los Angeles Water Supply in the Owens Valley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, rev. ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 1993); Gary Libecap, Owens Valley Revisited: A Reassessment of the West’s First Great Water Transfer (Palo Alto: Stanford Economics, 2007); Abraham Hoffman, Vision or Villainy: Origins of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Water Controversy (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001).
4. There are correctives that include Paiutes in Owens Valley water history. See Nancy Walter, “The Land Exchange Act of 1937: Creation of the Indian Reservations at Bishop, Big Pine, and Lone Pine, California, through a Land Trade Between the United States of America and the City of Los Angeles” (Ph.D. diss., Union Graduate School, 1986); John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars: State, Culture and Rebellion in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Andrew Franklin, “Desiccating a Valley and a People: The Effects of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Owens Valley and Its Inhabitants, 1924–1931” (M.A. thesis, California State University, Sacramento, 2000).
5. For an overview of the Owens Valley Water Wars, see Walton, Western Times and Water Wars, 131–97.
6. I follow Jan Vansina’s definition of an oral tradition: a “verbal message which are reported statements about the past beyond the present generation.” Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 27. Rather than merely a personal recollection, Vansina suggests, oral traditions reach far deeper in time and are told with more consistency. Dakota scholar Waziyatawin adds that oral tradition also involves the process in which the story is relayed. Remember This!: Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005), 27.
7. Anthropology and ethnohistory have come a long way from the days in which Robert Lowie could dismiss oral traditions out of hand. I have been influenced by Marshall Sahlins, Islands of History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985); Peter Nabokov, A Forest of Time: American Indian Ways of History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995); see 1–28 for discussion of oral tradition and Lowie; Julie Cruikshank, The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998); Jonathan D. Hill, ed., Rethinking History and Myth: Indigenous South American Perspectives on the Past (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988).
8. Nabokov, A Forest of Time, 92. Peter Nabokov describes oral traditions as “mythic revisionings”: “rather than being closed systems of fixed symbols, if myths are to remain relevant and recited, they must be susceptible to internal tinkerings and updatings.”
9. Julian Steward, “Ethnography of the Owens Valley Paiute,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 33:3 (1933): 235, 234 for a description of Collins. By using the past tense (“called”), I do not mean to insinuate that the Owens Valley Paiutes no longer think of themselves as “we are water ditch coyote children.” Rather, they “called themselves” this name in the 1930s.
10. Sven Liljebald and Catherine S. Fowler, “Owens Valley Paiute,” Handbook of North American Indians, 17 vols., William Sturtevant, gen. ed., Warren D’Azevedo, vol. ed., (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institute, 1986), 11: 412–34; Steward, “Ethnography of the Owens Valley Paiute,” 233–38; Walter, “Land Exchange Act,” 31.
11. Mary Saulque and Emma Washington, ED, Reel 205–206, Item 205.3: 159.
14. For a concise overview of puha, see Jay Miller, “Basin Religion and Theology: A Comparative Study of Power (Puha),” Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 5:2 (1983): 66–86.
15. Richard Stoffle, Richard Arnold, Kathleen Van Vlack, Larry Eddy, and Betty Cornelius, “Nuvagantu, ‘Where the Snow Sits’: Origin Mountains of the Southern Paiutes,” in Landscapes of Origin in the Americas: Creation Narratives Linking Ancient Places to Present Communities, ed. Jessica Joyce Christie (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009), 36, 38.
16. “Whether in physical reality or cultural memory,” anthropologist Peter Nabokov writes, “language, religion, and history always ‘took place.’” A Forest of Time, 131. Perhaps the best known book on the role of place and worldview is the fantastic work by Keith Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996).
17. Cruikshank, Social Life of Stories, 17, 18.
18. Yi-Fu Tuan defines space as “that which allows movement.” Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 6. Here, too, I am influenced by Daniel Gelo’s exceptional work on how Comanches (also Numic speakers) view of the landscape. “Recalling the Past in Creating the Present: Topographic References in Comanche Narrative,” Western Folklore 53 (October 1994): 295–312.
19. For a similar narrative structure, see Gelo, “Recalling the Past in Creating the Present.”
21. Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places, 15, 16. Basso notes that Western Apaches recognized that water too had left their homeland. Many Western Apache placenames referenced water existing in places that are now dry.
23. For helpful studies of place and power, see Tuan, Space and Place and Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004). Historian Jared Farmer has put the theories of both scholars to good use in his history of place making in Utah: On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians and the American Landscape (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008).
24. Across the United States, local histories were instrumental in the construction of ideas about American Indians and westward expansion. Writing about southern New England, historian Jean O’Brien argues, “the local gave particular valence to the twinned story of non-Indian modernity and Indian extinction.” Jean O’Brien, Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), xiv.
25. Willie Arthur Chalfant, The Story of Inyo (Published by the author, 1922), frontispiece, 8–41, 9, 10–13, 46–47.
28. For a concise overview of removal, see George Harwood Phillips, ‘Bringing Them Under Subjection”: California’s Tejón Indian Reservation and Beyond, 1852–1864 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 248–49.
29. Walton, Western Times and Water Wars, 24–52; Sharon Dean, et al., Weaving A Legacy: Indian Baskets & the People of Owens Valley, California (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004), 23–26.
30. Erwin Gudde, California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographic Names, 4th ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998, 1949), 6. Anglo Americans named Tinemaha after a Paiute chief. Ibid., 394.
38. Jennie Cashbaugh, ED, Reel 153–155, Item 154, Notebook 31: 198–206. For the Paiutes, events during the next couple of years ensured that they would remain in their homeland. In 1937, the Land Exchange Act created reservations at Bishop, Big Pine, and Lone Pine. On behalf of the Paiutes, the federal government exchanged nearly 3,000 acres of land with the City of Los Angeles for nearly 1,400 acres of land. Questions remain about Paiute water rights, and modern-day Paiutes and scholars argue that the United States failed to protect Paiute water rights and fulfill its trust responsibility to the Paiute Nation. Walter, “Land Exchange Act.”
40. Jim Jones, ED, Reel 149–152, Notebook 29: 129–33.
41. Walton, 25–27.
42. Anthropologist Julie Cruikshank notes that for Indigenous people of the Yukon Territory, “If one has optimistic stories about the past . . . one can draw on internal resources to survive and make sense of arbitrary forces that might otherwise seem overwhelming.” Julie Cruikshank, Social Life of Stories, xii.
43. For Owens Valley Paiute removal, see Steven J. Crum, “Deeply Attached to the Land: The Owens Valley Paiutes and Their Rejection of Indian Removal, 1863 to 1937,” News from Native California 14 (Summer 2001): 18–20. Crum also notes that in 1873, the federal government proposed returning the Paiutes from Owens Valley to Tule River. However, Owens Valley Settlers, who needed Paiute labor, blocked these efforts.
44. Crum, “Deeply Attached to the Land.”
45. Sharon Dean, et al, Weaving A Legacy: Indian Baskets & the People of Owens Valley, California (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004), 31-33.