Yosemite’s early history and inhabitants
This magnificent valley we call Yosemite has been a work in progress with its sheer granite walls and polished dome mountains. The geology of Yosemite is formed mostly with granite rocks that were formed 80 to over 200 million years ago, and just 10 million years ago during the tertiary period, the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range including Yosemite were uplifted. The added process of erosion involving large glaciers moving through the valley and carving the walls of the valley also created large scale landslides, river erosion within the valley and mass wasting. A natural process of exfoliation caused large chunks of granite to peel off the sheer cliffs and this process continues in shaping the sheer walls of the valley that we see today.
Early Indian inhabitants of Yosemite
Yosemite, named by the Miwok people “Yos s e meti” translates to “those who kill” due to a renegade grouping of multiple tribes lead by their Chief Tenaya. These Yosemite people named their own valley Owwoni (large mouth) referring to the village of Ahwahnee with the sheer valley walls. The people called themselves Ahwahnechee or dwellers of the Ahwahnee. The name Yosemite coined by L.H. Bunnel from the Mariposa battalion in honor of the people that they were about to capture and drive away from the Valley. Part of the discovery of Yosemite Valley and things to do in Yosemite with kids is experiencing the magnificent history, culture and of course the gorgeous landscape in this national park.
An indian settlement at Ahwahnee
A visit to the Yosemite Museum
The Yosemite Museum features exhibits of the valley, its geological history, wildlife and flora, American Indians and the early settlers to the area. At the entrance of the museum are wonderful oil paintings including the painting above of the entire valley from Inspiration point. There are extensive displays explaining the cultural history and lifestyle of the Miwok and Paiute people along with the Yosemite people who were a mixed tribe living in the valley.
Directly outside the museum is a reconstructed indian village with typical dwellings made during those time frames, food storage and cooking facilities, and gathering places for ceremonies. It’s an easy walking tour with several displays and reconstructed wood tepees made from local timber and the wood bark gathered from the larger trees in the park. Even the sweat lodge is still used now with the local indian tribes that perform and gather for special tributes in the park.
Check out the details on visiting the Yosemite museum here for current exhibits and visiting hours.
These images show ceremonial costumes and adornments made from natural materials and traded objects from foreigners. The colorful patterns and beautiful hand-made craftsmanship of the decorations show pride of ownership and affiliation to the Yosemite people, and the surrounding Miwok and Paiute tribes that lived in and around the valley.
This diorama below shows a rough but finished interior in a western style wooden home, the native Indians eventually started to use western materials and incorporated western buildings and clothing into their lifestyle while still retaining their crafts and use of local raw materials for utility purposes and costume.
Thanks so much for coming to visit Travel Photo Mondays and visiting Yosemite and learning about its early settlers and history. I’m writing a series of posts about Yosemite, here’s my previous photo essay of the key sites and landmarks in Yosemite, and this is my post about Yosemite’s sister valley, Hetch Hetchy reservoir and dam. Last, come and enjoy some of these other bloggers from around that world showing you some beautiful imagery.
Check out these other posts on Visiting Yosemite
A scenic hike to Glacier Point
Yosemite captured in Black and White
Yosemite attractions and landscapes
Awhanee Hotel visit and brunch
Hetch Hetchy reservoir and dam
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What a great blog post! I love seeing, learning new and interesting things.
Gorgeous photos and interesting history — the perfect travel post! Thanks for hosting, Noel.
Reading this, I realized I’ve never thought of the history of Yosemite.
It must have been quite a humbling experience to have lived amid such rugged beauty.
That’s awesome, mate! I’ll be heading to Yosemite next month as part of my honeymoon road trip. I can’t wait! It sounds like a fascinating and beautiful place.
Very nice Noel! I did not know the origins of Yosemite, thanks for sharing that! I learned something new about my country today 🙂
Fantastic series of pictures. Absolute delight to see them.
Thanks for connecting and the comments, it’s an amazing place to visit, don’t you think?
of course I have heard of Yosemite, seen it in movies and here and there in cyberspace articles, but your presentation here today is truly captivating! Your photos are beautiful and really transmit a feeling of the wonder of this land and its people and your text provides us with very interesting information. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thank for visiting and your comments, yes Yosemite is one of those must see places to visit. I also love the local places you focus on in your blogs, so beautiful!
Noel, this is totally bringing back the memories! I loved hiking around Yosemite when I lived out West. I had no idea about the origin of “Yosemite”–thanks for sharing (and hosting)!
Thank for visiting and your comments, yes hiking in Yosemite is a lot of fun and a real work out with those switch backs and stairs!
As always Noel you’ve provided some stunning photos here as well as some most interesting facts about the place that I hadn’t known before reading your post. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in your travel photo exhibition! I’ll try posting a link to your page on my FB page today – hopefully it will bring new visitors to you.
Thank for visiting and your comments, and I appreciate your linking up for every Travel Photo Mondays, thanks so much!
Thank you for the very interesting cultural tour and for hosting travel photo Mondays. Have a great week.
I love your new post on food photo tips, it was an excellent read and also thanks for participating on Travel Photo MOndays.
We’ve never been to Yosemite and I didn’t realize there was a museum. I’d definitely like to do some hiking there.
Thank for visiting and your comments, yes you should visit when you come back from to the US, it has so many amazing trails that you guys would love and the views, OMG!
Hi Noel, thanks for the history lesson of Yosemite. I knew all about it glorious wonder of nature but not about its history. The museum looks interesting and definitely educational. I want to learn more about different tribes of American Indians. I’ll certainly visit this museum when I go Yosemite.
Thank for visiting and your comments, yes its always good to learn about a place that you travel to either from the people you meet or from the web….thank good for Google!
A very interesting post, thank you. I, too, have been to Yosemite — or so my parents tell me, but as I was five years old at the time, I have no memory of it whatever! It certainly looks like it’s worth a visit.
Thank for visiting and your comments, yes it is worth a visit if you ever go to California and see nature outside of SF and LA!
What a very interesting history of Yosemite. I’ve never been to the Yosemite Museum and it looks very educational. I need to try and visit this the next time we go. We usually just go to the visitor’s center and focus on the hiking. Love those paintings of the valley.
Thank for visiting and your comments, yes it’s an amazing place to visit especially with children 🙂
I had no idea that Yosemite meant “those who kill.” Very interesting. I’d love to visit Yosemite some time and see some of these sights for myself.
Beautiful work. I so want to visit Yosemite. Not likely, but looking at your pictures is as close as I’ll get. Thank you!
Thanks so much for the mention and connecting with me, appreciate your sharing a link to my site…Mahalo nui loa (thank you kindly)