Joaquin Jim

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Joaquin Jim (183? - 1863 or 1866) was a Western Mono, war leader of the Owens Valley Indian War. Joaquin Jim, implacable war leader of the Mono allies of the Owens Valley Paiute, never surrendered to American forces or made peace with them, but reported to have ceased warfare against them in 1864.[1]

Joaquin Jim was said to have been an outlawed Western Mono from what is now Fresno County, California.[2] Following the death of Shondow he became the leader of the Eastern Mono that lived north of Big Pine Creek.[3]

Captain Moses A. McLaughlin raided Joaquin Jim's Camp on May 18, 1863 destroying it but he and his people escaped. Captain George and over 1000 Owens Valley Paiute surrendered soon after and promised to help McLaughlin against Joaquin Jim. In late June 1863, Captain McLaughlin sent a column with 90 soldiers and 26 Paiute including Captain George that trailed Joaquin Jim through Round Valley, up Pine Creek and over Italy Pass into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, losing him a week later. Jim returned to Long Valley and dominated the northern Owens Valley and Adobe Meadows once McLaughlin left Camp Independence for Fort Tejon. He established his claim in the White Mountains with a red cloth banner trimmed with raven feathers.[4]

Settlers petitioned for a return of the troops to protect them, describing:

"...the notorious Joaquin Jim, chief of the Pi-Utes in this region since the removal of Captain George to Fort Tejon, with his own particular adherents, together with many fugitives from Fort Tejon and renegades from Captain George's tribe or division, are now settled in our midst; that is to say, on Bishop's Creek, near Owensville and upon the identical ground upon which Mr. Scott, sheriff of this county, and Colonel Mayfield were killed some two years ago. It is a well-known fact that Joaquin Jim is now and ever has been an uncompromising enemy of the whites; that he refused to emigrate with his people under treaty made with the U. S. authorities; that the many murders and outrages committed in this valley since the withdrawal of Government troops from this locality is traceable to the implacable animosity of this captain or chief to our people."[5]

Two accounts of his death are incompatible. One report has him being injured in the war and killed in the San Joaquin Valley in April 1863.[6] This seems unlikely since it was prior to the McLaughlin Campaign, when Joaquin Jim was still leading a band in the upper valley.

Another, Owens Valley Paiute report, has him dying in the winter of 1865-66, in Long Valley at the Casa Diablo geysers some years after the war after eating a tribal delicacy. The white settlers claim he was killed by one of his own warriors.[7][8]


  1. ^ Willie Arthur Chalfant, The Story of Inyo, 1922, p.158, 190
  2. ^ Chalfant, The Story of Inyo, pp.107
  3. ^ Chalfant, The Story of Inyo, p.130
  4. ^ Chalfant, The Story of Inyo, p.148, 154
  5. ^ War of the Rebellion: Series 1, vol 50, Part 2, pp.1081-1082
  6. ^ [Stockton Daily Independent, THURSDAY, 23 APR 1863, "NOTED INDIAN KILLED The Visalia ‘Delta’ of the 16th inst., says: ‘Joaquin Jim,’ one of the most noted chiefs of the Owens River Indians, who was in command of the band who were so badly used up by the soldiers not long since, came over into the valley last week, either because he had been disgraced for incapacity, or, more probably, to obtain the assistance of a surgeon in healing his bullet wounds. Learning that he was at a rancheria about 5 miles from town, some 6 soldiers and citizens went up to capture him. On approaching, they discovered him engaged in washing a shirt, and as soon as he discovered them he broke like a deer in the direction of a swamp some 300 yards off, and, finding that he would certainly escape, they fired upon and killed him. On his body were found 2 recent wounds, 1 (in an advanced state of mortification) in the back, and another across the scalp. Besides there were numerous cicatrices of old wounds, received in some of his numerous battles. Jim was probably the bravest and worst Indian in this part of the State. He is known to have murdered 2 white men and has been at the bottom of all the outbreaks in this section for the past 8 years. He was brave as a lion -- his 1 redeeming quality."]
  7. ^ Chalfant, The Story of Inyo, p.190
  8. ^ Roger D. McGrath, Gunfighters, Highwaymen & Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier, University of California Press, 1987, p.49, Note 117, Daily Evening Post, 22 Nov. 1877; Esmeralda Union, 7 Jan. 1865