Yosemite Legends

Oct 2, 2012 by

Yosemite Legends by Bertha H. Smith was originally published in 1904 and is full of fascinating legends from the beautiful national park.  Included in this book are such Yosemite Legends as: Yo-sem-i-te, Large Grizzly Bear – – Po-ho-no, Spirit of the Evil Wind – Hum-moo, the Lost Arrow – – – Py-we-ack, the White Water – – Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah and Tis-sa-ack Kom-po-pai-ses, Leaping Frog Rocks, The Lost Arrow, The Three Brothers, Mirror Lake, El Capitan and more!

Here are a few lines from Yo-sem-i-te, Large Grizzly Bear:

“When the world was made, the Great Spirit tore out the heart of Kay-o-pha, the Sky Mountains, and left the gash unhealed. He sent the Coyote to people the valley with a strong and hardy race of men, who called their home Ah-wah-nee, and themselves, the Ah- wah-nee-chees. The Ah-wah-nee-chees lived the simple, savage life, which knows no law but to hunt and kill and eat. By day the trackless forests rang with the clamor of the chase. By the flaring light of their fires the hunters gorged themselves upon the fresh-killed meat, feasting far into the night. They made war upon the tribes that lived beyond the walls of Ah-wah- nee and never knew defeat, for none dared follow them to their rock-ribbed fastness. They were feared by all save the outcasts of other tribes, whose lawless deeds won for them a place among the Ah-wah-nee-chees. Thus the children of Ah-wah-nee increased in number and strength.

As time went by, the Ah-wah-nee-chees, in their pride of power, forgot the Great Spirit who had given them their stronghold and made them feared of all their race. And the Great Spirit, turning upon them in his wrath, loosed his evil forces in their midst, scourging them with a black sickness that swept all before it as a hot wind blights the grain at harvest time. The air of the valley was a poison breath, in which the death shade hovered darkly. Before the Evil Spirit medicine men were powerless. Their mystic spells and incantations were a weird mockery, performed among the dying and the dead; and when at last the Evil One passed onward in his cursed flight, the once proud and powerful band of Ah-wah-nee-chees was like a straggling pack of gaunt gray wolves. Their eyes gleamed dully in their shrunken faces, and the skin hung in loose folds on their wasted bodies. Those who were able fled from the valley, which was now a haunted place, eerie with flitting shadows of funeral fires and ghostly echoes of the funeral wail.

They scattered among the tribes beyond the moun- tains, and Ah-wah-nee was deserted. A vast stillness settled upon the valley, broken only by the songs of birds and the roar of Cho-look when Spring sent the mountain torrents crashing over his head. The mountain lion and the grizzly roamed at will among the rocks and tangled chinquapin, fearless of arrows; the doe led her young by an open path to the river, where trout flashed their colors boldly in the sun. In the autumn the choke-cherries and manzanita berries dried upon their stems, and ripened acorns rotted to dust upon the ground after the squirrels had gathered their winter store. The homeless Ah-wah-nee-chees circled wide in passing the valley. Over beyond To-co-yah, the North Dome, among the Mo-nos and Pai-u-tes, a few of the ill-fated Ah-wah-nee-chees had found refuge. Among them was the chief of the tribe, who after a time took a Mo-no maiden for his bride. By this Mo-no woman he had a son, and they gave him the name of Ten-ie-ya. Before another round of seasons, the spirit of the Ah-wah-nee-chee chieftain had wandered on to the Land of the Sun, the home of happy souls……..” ….continued in the book..

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