Bishop Creek Battleground (No. 811 California Historical Landmark)

Paiutes and white settlers entered into the Owens Valley Indian War between 1861 and 1866. By the time the war was over, every white settlement in the Owens Valley in the Eastern Sierra had been destroyed by Native Americans and several hundred head of cattle had been driven away. The Paiutes killed some of the cattle to eat during two seasons of harsh winters when the valley flooded and they had no other source of food.

Bishop Creek Battleground was the site of one of several battles where both the Native Americans and white men were killed. This particular battle occurred in April 1862 between the Paiute and Soshone tribes against ranchers and soldiers who were regularly outnumbered.

The following quote by one of the leaders of the Nevada Paiutes, Numaga, is excerpted from the Nevada Observer, January 1, 2012. The chief was attempting to convince his tribes to refrain from engaging in battle. In spite of his many warnings, they went to battle and were killed.

"You could make war upon the whites. I ask you to pause and reflect. The white men are like the stars over your heads. You have wrongs, great wrongs, that rise up like the mountains before you. But can you from the mountaintops reach up and blot out those stars? … They will come like the sand in a whirlwind and drive you from your homes … I love my people; let them live; and when their spirits shall be called to the great camp in the southern sky, let their bones rest where their fathers were buried.”

San Francis Ranch, Mayfield Canyon Battleground, and Camp Independence are other California Historical Landmarks located in Inyo County that mark the sites involved in the Owens Valley Indian War.

The historical marker is located at the intersection of State Highway 168 and Bishop Creek Road, 5.2 miles southwest of Bishop

Inyo County

Inyo means “dwelling place of great spirit” in Paiute Native American language. Inyo County has many “greats.” Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States and Death Valley, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere, are both within Inyo’s boundaries. Great earthquakes have left their mark in recent history, changing the course of the Owens River and exposing ancient sedimentary rock.

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Latitude: 37.3449826 Longitude: -118.4752107 Elevation: 4692 ft

About this Establishment

California Historical Landmarks Program

Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region

2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California

3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.

California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks. The Chamber of Commerce then created a committee of prestigious historians, including DeWitt Hutchings and Lawrence Hill, to evaluate potential landmark sites.

In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.

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