Pre-Columbian and Early American Legends - Penutian
"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."