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Pre-Columbian and Early American Legends - Penutian

Posted by on Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM
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Yayaya-ash

"He is then led by a spirit called Yayaya-ash appearing in the form of a one-legged man1 toward the spot where the animal spirits live...Yayaya-ash means "the frightener", and by the myth-tellers is regarded as the Thunder or its spirit."


The Ste-ye-hah' mah (Spirit hidden under the cover of the woods), or the Stick-Shower Indians, or the Stick-Indians.

A Yakama Indian, Simon Goudy, told the following story about the Ste-ye-hah' or Stick-Shower Indians to L. V. McWhorter in 1916. The derivation of the Yakama word Ste-ye-hah' (singular), or Ste-ye-hah'-mah (plural), is roughly as follows: Ste="Spirit", ye="hiding", hah'="Cover of the woods". I.E. it means a spirit hiding under the cover of the woods.

"The Ste-ye-hah' mah or Stick-shower are a mysterious and dangerous people whose general habitat is the lofty forest regions of the Cascade Mountains. They haunt the tangled timber-falls, which serve them as domiciles, or lodges. They are as large as the ordinary Indian; their language is to mimic notes of birds and animals. Nocturnal in habit, they sleep or remain in seclusion during the day and consequently are seen only on very rare occasions. Is under the cover of darkness that they perform the acts which have fastened upon them the odious appellation 'stick-shower'. It is then that they thrust sticks through any opening of the tepee or hunter's lodge, or shower sticks upon the belated traveler. The Indian who is delayed or lost from the trail is very apt to receive their attention. He may hear a signal, perhaps a whistle, ahead of him. should he follow the sound, it will be repeated for a time. Then he will hear it in the opposite direction, along the path he has just passed. If he turns back, it will only be to detect the mysterious noises elsewhere, leading to utter confusion and bewilderment. When the traveler is crazed with dread, or overcome by exhaustion and sleep; it is then that the Stick-shower scores a victory. Regaining his head, or awakening from slumber, the wanderer is more than likely to find himself stripped of all clothing, perhaps bound and trussed with thongs. He is fortunate to escape with his life." km

"Although a denizen of the timbered altitudes, the Ste-ye hah' oftimes comes into the lower and desert country. Two Indians were fishing in the Yakama River near Wapato45 when overtaken by darkness. One of them telling me [L.V. McWhorter] of the incident said, "Me go get hoss where tied to bush. Soon me hear whistle, off one side. Me listen! Quick me hear same whistle, over on other side me. Soon lots of noise, different kinds! All around me, everywhere. me get bad scare! Me jump hoss, run hard! Get home quick! No other time me hear Stick-shower people down here. They stay in mountains, in woods. They no come down here no more. Me no like Stick-shower Indian."

"A hunter and his wife were going into the mountains on their annual hunt and berry expedition. The Indian, an intelligent man, gave me [L.V. McWhorter] this account of the experience." " It was getting near sundown and camping time. I was looking ahead among the trees and to one side of the trail. Not far away I saw a man sitting on the ground. He was dressed in brown colored clothes, and I saw that his hair was braided and hung down over his breast, the same as an Indian. He was an Indian, as he appeared to me. For an instant I turned my eye from him and when I again looked, he was gone... I am not afraid of anything, but it must have been a Stick-shower that I saw. I have never heard them as many have, when out in the mountains."

'A Warm Springs hunter gave me [L.V. McWhorter] his experience with these denizens of the Cascades.' "I see his tracks, this wild Stick-shower injun. It was this long [forearm and hand, approx. 18 inches] slim track. It showed moccasin print in snow same as other Injun track. The StickShowers are hunters, hunt goats on Goat Rock. They have bows and arrows. Some have guns, guns given them by citizen Stick-showers. I see citizen Stick-shower, I talk to him in Seattle once. You was with me. The wild Stick-showers live in the mountains, in lodges underground. Doors to lodges are heavy, snow and earth. You cannot find them. They have no fire in these lodges. But they dry meat, dry salmon by fire somewhere in the woods where they hide. They dress in bearskins tied up the front with strings. Head of bearskin covers head of Stick-shower, keeps off rain and snow. That bearskin dress is warm, is dry and warm for coldest winter."

"The Stick-shower is tall, is slender. He is good runner. He has medicine which gives him swiftness and strength. (Some Indians claim he has medicine that renders him invisible.) They go long distance in one night. Maybe they hunt over on the n-Che'-wana (Columbia River) near Dalles early in the night. Next morning, they are over hear in Yakama country, all up Yakama river.46 Stick-showers are good hunters. Nothing can get away from them; nothing can escape them."

"When you hunt on Goat Rocks,47 you have to watch. You have to watch close all the time. You are on a rock, maybe you cannot see around that rock, cannot see on either side. The Stick-shower pushes you off that rock. You fall down, fall far down to death. Some Injuns get killed that way. to hunt where Stick-shower is, four or five of us go together. Three hunt, walking not far apart. One is here, one down below. One is higher up the mountain. We watch ahead, watch on each side. Fourth Injun is behind. he watches back over the trail. Stick-shower might be following us. Must always watch for the bad Stick-shower."

"'A Sound48 Indian, whose house stood by the side of a lagoon beyond which stretched a deep forest, lay on his bed at an open window one evening. He heard a whistling out in the timber. He answered it, supposing that it was someone lost. In turn, he was answered from the trees and at closer range. This was kept up for some time, the voice in the woods often taking the cadence of a bird song or other forest sounds. The Indian began to feel "queer" and "out of his head". Surmising that he was being "fooled with" by the Stick Indians, he closed the window and remained in the house.'"...

"Many years ago a Tulalip (Puyallup) hunter, armed with bow and arrows, crossed an arm of the Sound. He moored his canoe and was hunting the adjoining shore. Three bears passed in a single file and he shot, killing the rear one. Upon going to it, he discovered that he had killed a Stick Indian. He fled hurriedly to his canoe. These Stick Indians were clothed in bear skins, hence the mistake. The two surviving Stick-showers soon missed their companion and, turning back, came upon the dead body. They saw the man enter his canoe and rushed for him. He escaped them only by a close margin. The frightened hunter sped across the bay. He barely had time to spring ashore, rush into his house, and close the door, and his pursuers were there also. They had come a distance of many miles around the arm of the Sound. They lurked about the house for many moons watching for the man, but he avoided them until they became weary and vanished."...

A young Yakama gave this narrative to L.V. McWhorter: "I was on the Sound and went fishing with two of my cousins one night. We had made one haul with the net and were all three on shore. suddenly, there was a wild, weird scream, a kind of calling from the dark forest. My two companions sprang into the canoe and yelled to me, "You must stay and hold the stern line! That was a Stick-Injun crying in the woods." I was frightened! I had heard the cougar's cry, and I knew it was not that at all. I was left alone on shore. I had nothing to do but hold to the line and wait until the boys had made the circle with the boat. I knew but little about the Stick-Indians, and I do not know to this day if my companions believed in such beings. The scream that we heard was very loud, which, by all Indian accounts, showed the Stick-shower to be far away. There came another cry not so loud, evidencing the fact that the dreaded creature had approached much closer. Whatever it could be, it was drawing in on me... I do not know what it was squalling out there in the depths of the thickets, but it was not a cougar. It was like some screech owl, only vastly louder. Besides, the night bird is not found in that locality. I am inclined to regard as truth the story of the Stick-Indian. What else could it have been?"

"It is the delight of the Ste - ye - hah' to carry away captive, children who may become lost or separated from their people. Many snows ago two little ones, a brother and a sister, were missing from a hunter-village in the mountains. The parents and friends instituted a wide search and found their trail. Small footprints showed between the imprints of adult tracks,... Long afterwards, perhaps twenty snows, the parents of the lost children were camped in the mountains gathering huckleberries. One night while sitting in their lodge, a stick was thrust through a small crevice in the wall. The old man immediately called out, "You need not come around here bothering me, Ste-ye-hah' ! I know you! You took my two children, Hoom-chin-nah and his sister Whol-te-noo!"

"The Ste-ye-hah' withdrew from the side of the tepee. He was the lost boy. When he could not remember his native tongue, he recognized his own name spoken by the old Indian, his father. He lingered about the lodge, all night, fearing to enter. As daylight appeared, he went back to his people and told his sister what he had seen and heard, that their own parents were in the lone lodge at the berry patch. The next night he returned to the lodge, but did not enter nor let his presence be known. The third night he came again with his sister and entered the lodge. He made the old people to understand that they were their lost children, Hom-chin-nah and Whol-te-noo. It was the bow and arrows of the old man hanging on the lodge pole that had deterred him from entering the previous evenings. The children came often to see their parents, bringing them salmon in abundance. Their has never been any salmon in that part of the Cascades, but the Ste-ye-hah' mah had this fish in quantity. The old people went away with their children, who had married and had families of their own. Later, when Indians visited this place, only the empty lodge was to be seen.The parents stayed with the Ste-ye-hah' mah for one snow, then returned to the berry patch and rejoined their tribe. Ever since that time, when any of the Indians are in the mountains and hear the Chief of the Ste-ye-hah' mah hooting like an owl, calling to his people, they know the mysterious beings are abroad, bent on mischief. Presently they hear a cry like some bird, or the chattering of a chipmunk near their lodge. It is then that the startled inmates call out, "You need not come bothering around here! I am a relative of Hoom-chin-nah and Whol-te-noo!49 This invariably secures that particular lodge from further molestation by the mysterious Ste-ye-hah. They will not knowingly annoy the relatives of the two children whom they once captured and who resided with them so many years as members of their tribe."

Another Indian's experience told to L.V. McWhorter is as follows: "I was hauling wood from the near where the old Government sawmill stood, southwest of the Yakama Agency. I made the return home from night, but the moon was shining and I had no trouble in holding to the narrow wagon trail. Arriving at camp around midnight, I unhitched the team and proceeded to the shed which I had constructed against possibly bad weather. It was at the moment while crossing a small intervening waterway that a strangely invisible thing happened. A sudden dizziness came over me, not the bilious kind, but a weakness and numbing sensation through my entire body. I had difficulty keeping my feet. I could not account for my fainting condition, for at the time I was in the best of health. I felt I was walking in space, that the earth was not under me. I even examined to see if my heart was beating. It was going its regular pace all right, which convinced me that I was still alive, awake and not dreaming. It was with supreme effort that I reached the tent. Entering, I lit the dry shavings which I never fail to leave in readiness for instant fire in all my camps. No sooner did the light flare in the darkness, than I heard a chipmunk chatter at the end of an old log just outside the doorway. The little animal appeared to be scurrying away from the firelight. Then I knew! The death-feeling instantly lifted. Out of the woods I heard bird notes. From the opposite direction came the chitter-chatter of a squirrel, answered by the discordant notes of a blue jay. Then from the moonlit mountain peak broke the deep solemn hoot of an owl. The Chief was calling his people away. I was not molested by the Stick-showers again that night, but I kept a good fire burning until morning."

by on Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM
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LivinDeadGurl
by on Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM

An Indian named Laux-woptus (One-feather) related the following two stories to McWhorter around 1918. "A few of us were hunting in the mountains back of the Agency... (Yakama Indian Agency)... Far from camp, I determined to spend the night alone. Selecting a campsite near where the old Government sawmill was later built, I proceeded to gather wood and prepare a light supper. While thus engaged, I heard at a short distance below me English voices in conversation. I supposed that campers were there, perhaps hunters and I thought to call them as I had perfected my camp. I noticed that my horse pricked his ears and gazed in the direction of the voices, turning his head for that purpose."

"Finally I had camp arranged to my notion, and picking up my rifle, I walked down the slope to where the colloquy was going on. I had advanced but a short distance when the talking ceased. I continued, however, until I thought I was on the spot from whence had emanated the voices. No sign of men or camp was to be seen. It was still semi-twilight, and as I stood somewhat puzzled in doubt, I heard as distinctly as I ever heard anything the "Click! click!" of a gun being cocked, apparently a musket or heavy, old fashioned rifle, only a few feet away. Not doubting but that I was discovered by an enemy seeking my life, I sprang behind a tree, rifle ready for instant use. Thus sheltered, I stood in rigid expectation of momentary attack."

"But no attack came, and after an interval of suspense, I stepped from cover, half expecting to draw the fire of a lurking foe. All was still, save the murmur of the little stream, and the soft breeze rustling the pine-tops... I might have persuaded myself that I was laboring under a delusion had not my horse shown such visible effects of having heard the voices, so unmistakably human."

"I had one other strange experience in these same mountains. It was with the Ste-ye-hah' mah. Two of them came one night and without ceremony shared my blankets. One on either side, I was so wedged that I could not turn. I knew not how they came, nor how they left. No! It was not imagination. It was real, for I was awake and fully conscious of my surroundings. I know no explanation, have no theory to offer in either case of the strange phenomena."50

McWhorter wrote: "There is another tribe of Ste-ye-hah' mah; a tall slender race having but one leg. They live far to the North and are seldom seen. They are the deadly enemy of the Cascade Ste-ye-hah', who are mortally afraid of them. They too, are nocturnal and can cover vast stretches of country in a single night. Their mode of locomotion is supposedly long leaps, since the foot impressions appear at a considerable distance apart. Some Indians contend that these enigmatical beings are possessed of two legs, the same as any other people, and the difference is in the foot alone. Both tracks (impressions) are identical, conforming to the right or the left foot exclusively." 51

The next story from Simon Goudy is titled "Spirit costume of the Ste-ye-hah' mah". There was among the Yakamas a young man poverty-stricken and useless to his tribe. His parents and all his relations were dead; he had no home. He traveled from place to place, subsisting on the generosity of friends. If he ate out at one lodge, there were others where he might go. It is the Indian custom to turn away none without first supplying their physical wants. The young man was The Wanderer among the tribes.

The Wanderer came up the Yakama River to Pah'-gy-ti-koot.52 There he saw five Indians disputing and contending amongst themselves. They were Ste-ye-hah' mah, the Stick-Shower Indians. The wanderer inquired the cause of their trouble, and one of them said, "You see these clothes, these buckskins? We found them here. We cannot agree how to divide them. This man wants the coat, the shirt. The other man wants the leggings. This man here wants the moccasins, while I want the head dress. That man over there wants the entire suit, we cannot agree."...The Wanderer thought for a moment. he knew that the Ste-ye-hah' mah were great runners. They were swifter than any other Indians. He said, "Let me decide this for you! I will help you out." The Ste-ye-hah' mah replied "All right! We will let you manage it for us. You settle it for us."

The Wanderer rejoined, "Yes! I will do this for you, all of you go to Ow-yah'.53 "Go to the big greasewood. Line up there for the race. The one who reaches here and puts his hand on the buckskins first gets them. He will have the entire suit."

The Ste-ye-hah' mah agreed, "That is good! We will do as you say. You are wiser than we."

The five Ste-ye-hah' mah then ran down to the big bush and were instantly coming like the wind. All touched the buckskins at the same time. The young man said, "You will have to go farther in this race. go down to the trail crossing. Run from there."

The Ste-ye-hah' mah hurried to the starting place. It was out of sight, down the plain. They reached there; then they were coming back. The young man watched the dust. The racers burst into view; they came like the deer. Five hands touched the buckskins at the same time. The young man laughed. He had never seen such running among all the tribes. He said, "You must go farther away. Go to Luts-an-nee' 54 Run from there." The Ste-ye-hah' mah are tireless. You cannot tire them. They raced to Luts-an-nee'. There was the returning dust cloud. They were coming fast, fast as hawks can fly. All five touched the buckskins at the same time. The Wanderer laughed. He was surprised, but he laughed. He said, "Go this time to Cee-cee!55 Run from there. This business must be decided."

It was not long till the Ste-ye-hah' mah were at Cee-cee where the sand is not firm under foot. Soon the swirling dust cloud was seen. The Ste-ye-hah' mah were coming in a bunch. Five reaching hands touched the buckskins at the same time. The Wanderer was serious this time. He spoke, "You have raced four times. None of you have won the buckskins. The fifth time must decide who is to have them. Go to Pal-lah h-lee'!56 Run from there."

The Ste-ye-hah' mah were not tired. They hurried across the desert to Pal-lah h-lee'. The Wanderer thought, "I will look at these buckskins. They appear good."

The young man examined the buckskins. He found them fine and showy. He thought, "The Ste-ye-hah' mah will not be back soon. My own garb is poor. It is about worn out. I will see if these fit me." He tried on the buckskins, leaving his own on the spot where they had been lying. They fit him nicely. He thought, "I think that I would like to have these buckskins. I wish I could get away with them. But no! the Ste-ye-hah' mah can run faster than any Indians of all the tribes. They are good trailers. Nothing can hide from them. They would catch me sure. I had better let them alone. I had better replace the buckskins, better not have anything to do with them. The Ste-ye-hah' mah want these buckskins badly. Otherwise, they would not race for them as they do."

While thus debating, the Wanderer saw the approaching dust-cloud. It was far down the desert, but coming fast. The five runners were as eagles flying. The young man had decided too late. He could not change the buckskins. Instantly in view, the Ste-ye-hah' mah would be upon him, would catch him. Scared, he stood aside from his discarded garb. There was no use trying to run away, no use hiding. The five Ste-ye-hah' mah all touched the old buckskins at the same time. Then they saw what had been done. They began to accuse each other for the loss. They said, "You did this. You wanted all the buckskins, all the dress. Now this Indian has stolen all of them. We will get nothing!

"No! You caused it. You wanted the shirt."

"No! It was you! You wanted the leggings."

"Had you not contended for the headdress, we would now have the entire suit. It was your fault that all are lost."

"Why do you say that? It was you that wanted the moccasins. you would have the moccasins, and now everything is gone."

During this trouble, the Wanderer stood only few steps away. None of the Ste-ye-hah' mah seemed to notice him. He wondered why this was, why they did not attack him and take the buckskins. But no! They began to fight among themselves. The young man knew that they would fight until all were dead, killed at the same time. He decided quickly what he would do. he would get away with the suit. It was fine! He began to think what an impression he would make at the village with such buckskins.

So while the Ste-ye-hah' mah were fighting to the death, fighting so equally matched that all would die at the same time, the Wanderer left. He went through Pah'-gy-ti-koot, traveling north. He reached the village at the mouth of the Naches. A great tribal festival was in progress. He was soon surprised and disappointed that none of his friends paid any attention to him. His fine costume counted for nothing. He was hungry. He went from group to group where they were eating. He stood close to his best friends, stood in front of them. None noticed him. None would look at him; none would speak to him. A woman carrying food would have walked over him had he not stepped aside. He began to think, wondering what was wrong. Maybe his friends did not want him? He went to different lodges. It was the same everywhere. Nobody noticed him. Then he remembered the Ste-ye-hah' mah had done the same thing, had not noticed him. Might it be the buckskins he was wearing? He would test it out.

Procuring some old buckskins, he went to the river. There under the bank, he changed his costume. He hid his new buckskins and went back to the village. Immediately some of his friends called to him, "Come and eat! you have been gone. For a long time we do not see you. Tell us what you know, what you have seen, what you have heard."

Yes! It must be the buckskins. Some great power was in them. He sat down to the feast. He talked of his travels among different tribes. He went to another group of feasters. As he approached, they called, "You here? When did you come? We are glad! Come eat."

It was so everywhere he went. He now understood that it was his Ste-ye-hah' costume. That was the mystery. The buckskins must be a spirit suit, invisible. But he held the secret from his friends, from all the people.57

These, next few stories of the Ste-ye-hah'-mah below, are from Ray Crowe's "Track Record"

`Rip Lytle was told of the "stick people"; Indian accounts of early Spanish explorers in the area claim Bigfoot is the descendant of huge, bear skin wearing, and stick toting and using (like for agriculture) slaves that were used by Cortez to move the personal treasures of Axaquatle (Aztec ruler of the 1470's) and Montezuma to hide-away in the Chuckanut Mountains (outside Bellingham WA.) 450 years ago. The stick people's descendants still guard the treasure, awaiting the return of their God, Cortez, who will lead them again. (Hand me my skepticle case please.) In the Interview, Rip was shown photos from high in the Chuckanut Mts. of reclining women carved in relief in the rock, apparently marking the front of a Spanish Fort.'

`Listening in, this reminded Datus Perry of a tale. Some time ago he had been visiting and salmon fishing with his daughter on Vancouver Island, where she had a boat house, and one night he met a young woman doing some cooking there... they had been talking about caves. she said, She said "lets take a boat... I want to show you a cave...you'll never forget this". "We went to the cave and there were skeletons all over", Datus said. Little people, perhaps Japanese or Mongolian Datus thought. They speculated that they had come from across the sea to live there, and maybe a volcano got them.'

`In "Coyote was Going There - Indian Literature of the Oregon Country," edited J. Ramsey, 1977, U. of Wa. Press), animistic beliefs mention that "stick" is probably a corruption of the Sahaptian word for "spirit", rather than from the Chinook Jargon term "stick" for forest, wood, etc. A tale from the Warm Springs Resv. tells that if an Indian is in a lonely place and hears a certain bird singing, he knows it is a "stick" Indian. The stick Indians are spirits who live in the high, gloomy places like Grizzly Flats (south of Mt. Jefferson) and upper Shitke Creek (SW of Warm Springs Agency). Their favorite trick is to sing like a bird in the evening, when birds don't sing. If you follow the song, the stick Indian will lead you deeper into the woods, and you won't come out, maybe you will lose your mind in there.'

`Bruce Rigsby indicated that an Umatilla Shaptian informant (Oregon) told him of tall monstrous beings that live in the mountains and carry off people that never return. They call them st' iyahama; in English, she referred to them as "stick-Indians." These beings are not to be confused with the Panakhlamaichhlama, those who lead astray... they are the little people who also live in the mountains. ("Some Pacific Northwest native Language names for The Sasquatch Phenomenon," 1971, in "Northwest Anthropological Research Notes)"'58

LivinDeadGurl
by on Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:40 AM

These are legends from Native American tribes:

  • Yakima
  • Klikitat
  • Klamath
  • Modoc
  • Maidu
  • Yokuts
  • Costanoan
  • Patwin
  • Miwok

 

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