Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this project has been delayed.

Project goal: Fill a significant gap in documentation of the park’s human history with a report detailing traditional American Indian land-use and lifeways in northern Yosemite.

Why this work matters: For thousands of years, American Indians lived in and traveled through the Yosemite area, including in what is today the northern part of the national park. A lack of information about that extensive human history, however, has led to imprecise or incomplete representations of Yosemite’s past that omit key perspectives.

Providing a fuller, more accurate picture of the area’s first residents requires a concerted effort to document and share Yosemite’s ethnohistory, the history of people and cultures. Through this project, members of the Bridgeport Indian Colony, a federally recognized tribe in the eastern Sierra Nevada, will conduct archival research and interview elders from across the Yosemite area. Drawing on that research, they’ll write and distribute a detailed document with information on where people lived and traveled, as well as traditional knowledge, stories and practices.

How your support helps: This grant provides the necessary funding for the Bridgeport Indian Colony to move forward with a long-awaited research effort. The final document, which will be shared with the park and public, will help Yosemite staff provide more accurate educational information to visitors and better incorporate American Indian history and perspectives into park projects; will help researchers deepen their understanding of the Sierra Nevada’s human stories; and will provide members of the Bridgeport Indian Colony and other traditionally associated American Indian tribes and groups with a more complete record of their history in the Yosemite area.

Partnering with Yosemite National Park and Bridgeport Indian Colony. The Bridgeport Indian Colony (BIC) is located near Bridgeport, California, just east of Yosemite National Park. The BIC community consists of more than 100 descendants from the Miwok, Mono, Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe tribes.

Scott Carpenter

Cultural Resources Program Manager, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"The development of a tribally produced history would aid the park, the state, the nation, tribes and the public. This information is very important as tribes and the National Park Service work together to preserve history and conduct meaningful consultation with tribal traditional knowledge."