On The Map: Ahwahnee

On The Map: Originals

What do you get when you combine a native American word with a federal bureaucracy? You get the name of this place on the map.

The Miwok word for “mouth” sounds very similar to the Miwok word for “the opening to Yosemite Valley”.

This place isn’t anywhere near the opening of Yosemite Valley, but they took the name just the same.

In the early 1900s, the Board of Geographic Names… yes, there is a Board of Geographic Names.

It was created in 1890 to make uniform usage of geographic names throughout the federal government.

In 1908, they changed the name of this place to Wassama because somebody filed paperwork claiming that was the original name of this area.

Well, the people who lived here followed that great tradition of rural folk in relation to their federal government… they ignored them and kept the Miwok word for themselves.

The Miwok word for mouth is “owwo” and the word for Yosemite Valley is “owooni”.

You see the similarity there?

And so to this day, that Miwok word, it’s tweaked a little bit.

And so Ahwahnee is on the map of Madera County.

With Josh Dean behind the camera, I’m A.J. Fox.

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