“Origin of the Mountains”
From the Yokuts
The Yokuts are Native Americans who inhabit parts of the San Joaquin Valley, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and the Southern Sierra. The Yokuts consisted of up to sixty ethnically and linguistically separate tribes prior to European contact, and although their population decreased more than 90 percent from 1850 to 1900, there are still a number of Yokuts in today’s Sierra Nevada.
For the Yokuts, the Sierra Nevada began with an unlikely contest between two old combatants—Hawk and Crow. This ancient story was edited by Katharine Berry Judson in 1912. In this selection, references are made to Tulare Lake, a large lake, now dry, in the San Joaquin Valley; and to Ta-hi-cha-pa Pass in the southernmost Sierra Nevada, now known as Tehachapi Pass.
Read by Gary Noy, Director, Center for Sierra Nevada Studies, Sierra College