Eastern Sierra culture is rich, colorful and diverse.

Among the first inhabitants of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas were tribes of Native Americans. Later, there were European herders, minors (seeking a fortune in gold and silver ore) and others who played a vital role in the development of this vast area.

The Kudzedika Paiutes inhabited the Mono Lake area and traded with the Miwoks of the western slopes. These Native Americans were the ancestors of today's tribal groups in Death Valley, Big Pine, Bishop, and the Washoe area of Nevada. Today these tribes are utilizing their reservation lands to develop business centers, casinos and other ventures, enhancing the quality of life for their respective populations.

It is estimated that from 8,000 B.C. until 1820, the Sierra Nevada was home to native peoples. They flourished by utilizing the water, minerals, plants and animals of the region. They initiated an evolution of the area through the process of changing the Sierra in ways to accommodate their needs. The most significant impact came from their practice of burning parts of the mountains. This reduced the risk of fire around their villages, improved the growth of plants for food and basket making and increased the deer browse for better hunting.

During the three decades preceding the gold rush, contact with Europeans caused the native culture to amend their land use patterns. Pathogenic diseases were introduced that decreased the numbers of native peoples. During these times, native tribes acquired horses and moved deep into the mountains.

The gold rush of 1848 brought a large population boom to the region. More environmental damage was caused during this time than during any time previous. In the mid 1800s, conservation movements were begun and have continued ever since. Today, logging, fire management and wilderness preservation are in effect and supported by the majority of the population.

The Sierra Nevada region will continue to evolve, but, hopefully, will be protected for the benefit of future generations. As today's cultures are still dependent on these lands and perhaps, more than ever before, it is imperative that man and his environment be united.

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