” Where can we go that you will not follow us? Where can we make homes that you will not find and burn?”
During the Mariposa Indian War of 1850/51, the wily, aging Chief Tenaya finds himself embroiled in hostilities with White settlers sweeping through their world at the time of the California Gold Rush. He is catapulted into conflict against the plunder of their land and culture. His story is a tale of family love, tribal lore and spirituality. In Chief Tenaya’s world, the pillages of war are set against the backdrop of daily rhythms of their lives in the familiar landscape of Yosemite.
Will he be able to protect his family and people and preserve their way of life in their secluded valley?
This illustrated novel draws out the best and worst of human nature in an enthralling tale that interweaves true historical events with imagined and gripping storytelling. Great Spirit of Yosemite chronicles the extraordinary struggle of the original Native American inhabitants of Yosemite Valley, their determination to cling on to their heritage and their ultimate sacrifices.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 July 2020
Wonderful descriptive narrative flows through this book, consisting of part fiction and part, well sourced, historical fact. Through prose and poetry and the author’s exquisite photography, the reader is transported back to the time of The Gold Rush and the terrible plight suffered by the indigenous settlers of Yosemite. A truly engaging and brilliant read!
A Review of Paul Edmondson's "Great Spirit of Yosemite; The Story of Chief Tenaya" by Vincent J. Tomeo, novelist, poet, historian
Mr. Tomeo did not know this story. Paul Edmondson takes one backstage behind the curtained valleys, mountains, streams, stunning, natural backdrop, and beauty of Yosemite National Park, and narrates a saga of Chief Tenaya's last stand against all the odds. The untold story is a struggle expressed in prose, poetry, and photography. Against such an extraordinary landscape, one learns of the suffering and struggle of the native people.
This epic narrative journey tells us of the very fabric of this valley, and like a river, the natives flowed. Their past is always with us as it proceeds like a river and never ends. The river is a road, a ceremonial refuge of millennial people who only wanted to live in their land, off the land, on the land, from the land in harmony and peace.
Gold, greed, pandemic, violence, war, and desolation would end all that. Although this indigenous group forcibly removed from this valley, their spirit will live.
The photographs are stunning, spectacular, and astonishing, and the poetry is absorbing. One will not be disappointed.
One will feel in their mind and soul for these noble people, long after one reads and places this stunning book on a shelf. Take this journey, empathize and long for justice overdue.
Set in a natural backdrop of mountains capturing the Indian way of life. The Story of Chief Tenya is a refreshing insight of historical events interwoven with a skilfully written story. Most books tend focus on tales of new settlers whereas The Story of Chief Tenya offers an awareness of tribal life, resulting in being both an educational and compelling read. We learn of the sacrifices Indians were forced to endure as their heritage was threatened by greed and violence. The book not only offers literary insight but is also filled with beautiful photographs. A fantastic and beautifully written novel which I highly recommend reading.
Mary Crowley rated the book 5 Star
Bob Mustin rated it 5 Star.
This fine book of Edmondson's tells anew of the culture clash between white American settlers and the Native Americans who occupied the land for millennia prior to white settlement. But it's not a re-warmed version of "white might wins;" instead, the author lives within the mind and heart of Tenaya, chief of the Ahwahneechee Indians, settled in the California mountains. His foil here is, for the most part, one James D. Savage, who has lived among the various tribal groups long enough to understand their languages and ways, but who is given to trading and cattle raising.Whites begin to encroach on Ahwahneechee territory, and war ensues - the Maricopa Indian War of 1850-51. Edmondson follows the tracks of this conflict, never leaving Tenaya's emotional side. He alternates a skilled and passionate prosaic view of Tenaya's loyalty to his people, his sly ways with Savage and other whites, with superbly written poetic paeans to Tenaya and his tribe. As such,the book has the feel of George Keithley's poetic opus, "The Donner Party." "Great Spirit of Yosemite" will no doubt add value to this canon of the white push westward, and the inevitable ceding of Native American homelands to them. It's a powerful closeup of both sides of this particular conflict and should be read and appreciated widely.
Paul Edmondson and Bob Mustin discuss their books: "Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya" and "Gerbert's Book"
Mary O'Neill of WLR fm interviews Paul Edmondson about his book Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya