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Coin of the Month

Yosemite National Park Quarter

The scenic Yosemite National Park Quarter is the latest in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. Yosemite National Park was named after the Yosemite (yo-SEM-i-tee) Valley in California. Do you know where the Yosemite Valley got its name?

If you think "Yosemite" sounds like an American Indian word, you're right. And there was a nation called the Yosemite Indians. But the Yosemite Indians didn't call themselves Yosemite, but Ahwahneechee, meaning "those who dwell in Ahwahnee."

They called the Yosemite Valley "Ahwahnee," translated as "large mouth." The valley walls resemble a large, gaping mouth when seen from the valley floor. So where did "Yosemite" come from? That was the name given to the Ahwahneechee by a neighboring tribe, the Miwok. The Miwok, who were generally peaceful, feared the Ahwahneechee, their enemies. "Yosemite" can be translated "those who kill" or "band of killers."

The Mariposa Battalion, made up of local miners, discovered this valley on March 25, 1851. Battalion member Dr. Lafayette Bunnell asked for suggestions of names for the valley. Several men suggested "Paradise Valley" because of its beauty.

Bunnell himself suggested "Yo Semity" after the name of a local tribe, believing the word meant "grizzly bear." He wrote that he thought the name was "suggestive, euphonious [nice-sounding], and certainly American." Upon a voice vote, the name "Yo Semity" was adopted almost unanimously.

Yosemite National Park is home to Yosemite Falls, which is the highest multi-level waterfall in North America, a total of 739 meters (2,425 feet). You can find out more about Yosemite on the Yosemite National Park quarter page and also on the California quarter page.

Image shows the back of the Yosemite quarter.
Reverse:  El Capitan, a major geologic feature at Yosemite National Park, is shown behind Mirror Lake.

Image shows the front of the quarter-dollar coin.
Obverse:  George Washington's profile is surrounded by the inscriptions "United States of America," Liberty," "In God We Trust," a mint mark, and "Quarter Dollar."

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