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Re: Yosemite News; Southern Sierra Miwuks second extension for federal recognition

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The Southern Sierra Miwuks have been going for federal recognition for 30 years. They were finally up for recognition by the Office of Federal Acknowledgement in Oct 2011. The Office of Federal Acknowledgement is part of the Department of the Interior which handles the process of creating federally recognized tribes.

A newspaper article came out in the Mariposa Gazette with the Southern Sierra Miwuks, also called the American Indian Council of Mariposa, also referred as the AICM, which is made up of some current and former Indian employees of Yosemite National Park. In the article the Miwuks complained that the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, also called OFA, has not made them a recognized tribe. The AICM had been involved in acquiring a casino somewhere in the area of Yosemite, but needs to become a federally recognized tribe first.

OFA stated that the Miwuks, or AICM, had not supplied sufficient information regarding their ancestry or genealogy. So OFA gave the Miwuks an extension of six months, which was to end on April 29th, 2012.

The Southern Sierra Miwuks, or the AICM received a letter from the OFA, dated April 19th 2012, stating that 40 percent of the membership on file did not contain birth certificates. The actual numbers is 350 out of a total of 872 members that did not have birth certificates included. See letter below.

Note the application for membership of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation that a copy of a birth certificate must be included when a member joins their group.

Application for membership in the Southern Sierra Miwuk

We ask the question. How did the Southern Sierra Miwuk supply a petition for federal recognition omitting 350 birth certificates which is mandatory for membership in the Southern Sierra Miwuk.

Now once again the OFA is extending the Miwuks deadline from April 29th 2012 to Oct. 29th 2012. The OFA is going to search the BIA database to provide birth names, dates, mother’s surnames, and other information for the 350 individuals. We wonder why the OFA is doing this and helping the Southern Sierra Miwuks? This means that this non-profit group failed in their petition process for federal recognition.

In tribal enrollment an application is submitted to the tribal enrollment officer who in turn prepares it for the tribal enrollment committee. If an enrollment application is submitted without the required birth certificate to support the Indian ancestry, the applications should have been rejected and returned to the persons applying as incomplete. The Miwuks should have never have submitted this petition to the OFA in the first place without the required birth certificates.

If an elder never had a birth certificate they could’ve created a delayed birth certificate for governmental services. We don’t believe that 350 people in the AICM do not have birth certificates.

Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute colony of Ahwanhee - Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell.
avatar Re: Yosemite News; Southern Sierra Miwuks second extension for federal recognition
April 30, 2012 11:51PM
Question: Why don't the Paiute descendants of Chief Tenaya's clan submit a petition for federal recognition as the Indian tribe of Yosemite?

Wouldn't that force the National Park Service to then recognize that the Ahwahnechee were Paiutes and not Miwuks?
There is a group that claim ancestry to Chief Tenaya who were part of the Southern Sierra Miwuk, but around 2000 they were thrown out by the leadership of the AICM, or Miwoks, for causing ‘problems’ for Yosemite National Park.

Around the year 2000 Yosemite National Park was excavating the site for a new bathroom located at the lower Yosemite Falls area when the descendents of Chief Tenaya’s family came upon the site. The site that was being excavated was documented to be one of Chief Tenaya’s villages. When the family of Chief Tenaya came upon the site there was a representative of the Southern Sierra Miwuks monitoring the site for the Park. The family was shocked that the leadership of the Southern Sierra Miwuks or AICM did not inform their membership of what was going on. So the family did a protest and contacted the local media who reported on the protest and incident. Yosemite National Park TOLD the leadership of the AICM to shut up the family of Chief Tenaya. So the leadership, who are not members of Tenaya’s family, at the request of the YNPS, kicked out those members of the Tenaya’s family who were protesting the Park’s actions.

Later the members of the Mono Lake Paiute were visiting the Park around 2004 when they came upon new signs added to Yosemite National Park claiming their DIRECT ancestors were Miwoks. The Paiutes complained to the Park, but they didn’t care because YNPS had their “tools” the Southern Sierra Miwuk do their bidding. Imagine having your own ancestors being changed from American to Russian…what would you think or do?

The new signs are not that old but now many of these new signs have changed historical Paiutes into Miwoks at the bidding of the Southern Sierra Miwuk, we believe in exchange for the Miwuks OK’ing projects for YNPS. Many of those Historical Yosemite Paiutes are not related to ANY of the members of the AICM.

When we, the Paiutes, started to research why this was happening to our people we discovered that many of those “Yosemite Miwoks” were not even Miwuks, but Yokuts claiming to be Miwoks. Many of these Yokuts only came AFTER the Park was established to work in the early Park, CLAIMING to be Miwoks. Many of them are not even from the area, but were enemies of Chief Tenaya and that Ahwahneechees.

This is why YNPS started the “Indian history of Yosemite” at 1870, at the “recommendation” the AICM, also called the Southern Sierra Miwuk. That is RIDICOULOUS because what about before that? This leaves out Chief Tenaya and the early history of the Yosemite Indians.

Southern Sierra Miwuks 'advise' YNPS start Indian history at 1870...Park agrees

Chief Tenaya was the founder of the Paiute colony of Ahwanhee - Dr. Lafayette H. Bunnell.
Thanks for this short history lesson, but you didn't answer my question: Why don't the descendants of Chief Tenaya (and descendants of other Indians that lived in Yosemite like White Wolf) file a petition with the federal authorities to be recognized as the Indian tribe that actually called Yosemite their home?

I would think that would be a logical solution to this problem that the Park Service is having of not recognizing the Paiute ancestry of the Ahwahnechee tribe.

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