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