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I'm doing some internet research on Hetch Hetchy, and I've come across some interesting things, which aligned with some of what I had guessed about the area, in that it was a long-standing Native American territory.

The Hetch Hetchy valley was flooded in 1921 by the City of San Francisco in order to create a water reservoir for the city, amidst much protest by the environmentally-conscious explorer John Muir and others interested in preserving the valley, which was reputed to be quite possibly the most awe-inspiringly beautiful within Yosemite. What is not often told is that Hetch Hetchy Valley was the historical home to the Paiute Indians, who were rivals to the more often discussed Miwok. There also is much controversy amongst the modern Paiute regarding their elimination from the modern rendition of the history of the area, which evidently even goes so far as to rename the famous Chief Tenaya, who was Paiute, as a Miwok. Yes, I could well understand some tension from both the departed and the living at the destruction of an anscestral home and the erasure of their tribe from historical memory. Ancient pictographs were found in Pate Valley within Hetch Hetchy, and the oldest Native American basket of California origin also was found in Hetch Hetchy, both of Paiute origin. The valley was known to be a shelter and hiding place for the tribe when they were faced with crises.

I am forced to wonder if a few last remaining Paiute were lingering in the Valley, refusing to leave their home, when it was flooded. That answer may be a bit harder to find.

There are efforts to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its former state.

One thing to take note of is that the Hetch Hetchy reservoir is no longer San Francisco's primary water supply-- Toulomne River is.

"Removal of the dam would result in the loss of less than two-tenths of one percent of California's yearly electricity use. All the lost power could be replaced by the programs described above [see web site given above], plus an energy efficiency program. The efficiency program would actually save homeowners and businesses more than the cost of implementing the energy efficiency program. It would also be possible to build solar, wind, or conventional gas-fired power plants."


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January 2014



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