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Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians

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avatar John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 15, 2011 03:22AM

John Muir Day is April 21st.


Here is an interesting article about John Muir from an L.A. writer;

Urban Idyl: John Muir in the New World of Los Angeles

John Muir is considered one of the founders of America's environmental movement. Muir was also a purist. His vision for Yosemite was to see it as pristine and natural as possible and to keep it has natural as possible. But some have noted that John Muir's vision did not include the Native American population in Yosemite and the surroundings. He wrote disparagingly about the Native's of Yosemite as he would encounter them. Muir's ideal of Yosemite was to keep Yosemite untouched, but he also saw the Indians of Yosemite as a hindrance to that ideal.

Some of the Mono Paiutes considered John Muir a strange and odd man. They believed he was 'touched' in the head. On occasion he would follow them around and disturbed and interrupted their hunting and gathering. There was a story told that when Paiute men were hunting Big Horn sheep along the crest of the Sierra Nevada going toward the south east, Muir would try to silently follow them in a short distance. He would watch them and on a couple of occasions accidentally scare the prey away by stumbling. He also followed Paiutes along their trails and some considered him a nuance. He visited Mono Paiute villages after their return acorn gathering in Hetch Hetchy Valley. He carried around a small notebook where he would draw pictures. One stormy night the Paiutes observed Muir as he went to the top of a hill and screamed to the top of his lungs in all his glory in a thunder and lightning storm. This astounded the Paiutes and they deemed him crazy.


John Muir at Mono Paiute camp after they returned from acorn gathering from Hetch Hetchy Valley


Muir on the other hand believed that Yosemite would be a better place without the Yosemite Indians and their presence. Muir wrote about it and he was disgusted at the sight of the Mono Paiute people. He wrote;

"The dirt on their faces [The Mono Paiutes] was fairly stratified, and seemed so ancient and so undisturbed it might almost possess a geological significance. The older faces were, moreover, strangely blurred and divided into sections by furrows that looked like the cleavage-joints of rocks, suggesting exposure on the mountains in a castaway condition for ages. Somehow they seemed to have no right place in the landscape, and I was glad to see them fading out of sight down the pass."


So there was truly a strange and complicated relationship between John Muir and the Yosemite - Mono Lake Paiute people.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

"Chief Tenaya was the Founder of the Paiute Colony of Ahwahnee"



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2011 03:25AM by Yosemite_Indian.
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 18, 2011 12:08AM
Thanks for the post.
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April 18, 2011 01:32AM
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/2020 05:50AM by rightstar76.
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 18, 2011 01:36PM
Yes, very enlightening. I am curious if the PBS special will cover any of his relaitonship with the Indians, unfortuantely I may miss it though :-(.
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
May 09, 2011 09:05AM
Thanks for the video. I missed it but finally got to see it.
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 18, 2011 03:42PM
Thanks John Muir for helping preserve Yosemite.
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 21, 2011 02:40PM
Thanks for the insightful article. With the PBS special, I've learned more about John Muir this week than all my life!
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 23, 2011 04:22PM
Thanks for the read. The PBS special didn't cover this at all.
Re: John Muir and his complicated relationship with Yosemite Indians
April 24, 2011 04:08PM
What happened to all the Indians in Yosemite? Are there tribes or Indian land still around the area?
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