Contemporary Miwoks of Yosemite Valley.


The article "Contemporary Miwoks" encouraged many to send me e-mails. I must thank my greatest supporter Joel Skidmore on Labor Day setting aside some time to post the article and place the photographs to do the article - justice.

In this article we shall share the photographs of one family that has chosen to share some of the activities of the contemporary Miwoks so that the public at large are fully aware that the Miwoks of today continue to stand tall and make good stuff happen.

We have stated that all that is Yosemite Valley was stolen from the Miwoks. The United States Army and the National Park Service have deceived the Miwoks and driven them away from the homeland that was theirs for thousands of years.

In recent years the Miwoks follow the trails of their ancestors and visit Sacred Sites to perform rituals that the Miwok hold dear to their well being and bring honor to their ancestors and the Great Spirit.

In some of the photographs the children of the Miwoks continue to show to the visitors and to the strangers the day to day activities that the Miwoks conducted. Gathering acorn and grinding the acorn into flour was a daily routine. Acorn was stored in special huts the roofs of which were made from the bark of the redwood trees.

Nutritionists value the richness of the acorn and with game and fowl, which was in plenty the Miwoks, had everything they wanted when it came to food and quality nourishment.

There were lots of fruits, game and bird, and fish. Clean water and all the rain and sunshine one could wish for. It was all goooooooooooood.

When the first strangers first came and encountered the Miwoks the Russians, the Spanish, and the English had great praise for the hospitality and kindness of the Miwoks. They also mention in their detail reports that the Miwoks were a happy people. Well built and very content. There was no sign of the tears and the misery that would soon follow.

The strangers were looking for structures and for gold. The structures they did not see and the gold was there but not as they had seen them in the temples and structures of the Aztec people. They saw simplicity and did not have the intelligence to know better. Lacking spirituality in its pure sense all they saw was greed and the confusion that it brings.

The Miwok had veins of gold that in 1849 led to the Gold Rush and with it the decimation of a noble people the Miwoks, Pomos, other tribes. In 1992 a huge nugget weighing 45 lb. was found and prior to that many - one weighing at much as 125 lb.

The land still has very rich minerals and gold is just the tip of the iceberg. The forest contains the best lumber one could find in the world. The filthy rich folk from San Francisco saw that their homes were built of redwood and other lumber from the Sequoia, Douglas Fir, Oak, and so on - all of which were found in Miwok territory in plenty.

In 1906 the City of San Francisco burned and when the City Fathers chose to rebuilt the City of San Francisco - the previous rape of the forest from the land of the Miwoks was revisited and this time the forest and precious redwood and other choice trees - met the fate from the saws of those who with greed in their hearts thought only of money and more money.

The Gold Rush brought the worse type of human beings to the door of the Miwoks. Daily these thugs all White bandits killed the Miwoks and Miwok children and women endured the worst type of treatment. Rape, point blank shooting, stealing their belonging, burning the homes of Miwoks was a sport. The Whites committed these crimes and they have blood on their hands for all the days of their lives. This holds good for the children and those to come who bear responsibility for spilling innocent blood.

For sure it is not easy for Jay Johnson the Chief of the Miwoks from the Yosemite Valley to read what I write. I do not write to please anyone. My Spirit leads to me think deep and write what is the TRUTH. I stand by what I write and fear no human being.

All of Yosemite is Miwok land and it was stolen from them. Today, the United States government has chosen not to recognize the Miwoks from Yosemite as a tribe. This is an insult. It does not matter to the United States government that it stole the land. It has not matter that thugs laid stake to the land and called themselves stakeholders. It does not matter that the Unites States sided with the Whites just because of their color.

In the years to come Miwoks served the United States Army because they still felt that as a noble people they could contribute to the war effort. The Forest Service, the National Park Service, many State and Local governments recruited Miwoks to work and paid them little money.

A glaring example is the Hetchy Hetch project and the discrimination meted out the Miwoks and others of color. A man applied for a job and his last name was Rich. The folks thought he was white. The man was African American and he was a qualified electrical engineer. The man was selected and went to work at Hetch Hetchy. He has learned his trade in the Navy. When the Whites saw the man Rich and saw that he was African American they went bonkers - but they had to live with what they saw. They learned much from one that he had expected to know little.

Mr. Rich married Espanola Jackson well known in San Francisco to the Mayor and the Mayors before. She knows the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Today the discrimination that went on years ago still carries on at various sites run by SFPUC. Whites place nooses which is a symbol of death. In this case they target the Blacks. Imagine what they did to the Miwoks if they can do it today to the African Americans in the year 2004.

Today the contemporary Miwoks take a walk into the Valley. The Miwoks follow the trails of the ancestors. From time to time they go to the Visitors Center at Yosemite Valley and carry on some of the activities at the Indian Village and show the strangers what they did and how they could survive for thousands of years.

The mountains were so pristine
It was the abode of the Spirit
It was where the Eagle soared high
From the snow peaks the good came
Down to the Valley of the Children of the Great Spirit Ahwahnee
For thousands of years
We were a people content with life and nature
Then one day we saw the nightmare
Sitting on our door step
Our women warriors they killed
Our children they sent to boarding schools
Our men they enslaved and murdered.

Once we had a several languages
Today we hear some sounds but no dialect
We cannot really recite the stories of the ancestors
Once there were bears and swift fleeting dear
Much salmon in the pristine rivers
Acorn was in plenty and the Great Spirit
Saw that the clans and tribes were content
Then came the nightmare and in an instant
The good that was ceased to be
Forever and ever and ever.

It is not easy to feel the hurt and smile
We want to tell our children the truth
About the horrendous killings and stealing
There is only so much that one can tell
The nightmare was horrendous
The thugs came in plenty and stole the gold

They cut the forest and polluted the rivers
They damned the waters and flooded the
Sacred Valley - Yosemite
Home of Chief Tenaya
The many villages of the Ahwahnee
The innocent blood that was shed
Will not be in vain
Even as the sunrises and sets
Even as the heartthrobs
We are reminded that justice
Has not been done.

The stranger is here but does not hear
The pangs of a people who land is dear
We need the bread and the acorn of today
We need the jobs and justice
We are not requesting - we are demanding
A mandate of our freedom that was taken away
Each day brings us closer to the retribution
We Miwoks seek who have been harmed
The Valley is our Sacred Land
All above it and below it and around it
The Spirit has spoken loud and clear
Our time has come and it is now.

Francisco Da Costa
San Francisco
September 8, 2004

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