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Title: Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Volume 07 : Along the Rocky Range
Author: Skinner, Charles M. (Charles Montgomery), 1852-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           MYTHS AND LEGENDS
                              OUR OWN LAND

                           Charles M. Skinner

                                Vol. 7.

                         ALONG THE ROCKY RANGE


Over the Divide
The Phantom Train of Marshall Pass
The River of Lost Souls
Riders of the Desert
The Division of Two Tribes
Besieged by Starvation
A Yellowstone Tragedy
The Broad House
The Death Waltz
The Flood at Santa Fe
Goddess of Salt
The Coming of the Navajos
The Ark on Superstition Mountains
The Pale Faced Lightning
The Weird Sentinel at Squaw Peak
Sacrifice of the Toltecs
Ta-Vwots Conquers the Sun
The Comanche Rider
Horned Toad and Giants
The Spider Tower
The Lost Trail
A Battle in the Air



The hope of finding El Dorado, that animated the adventurous Spaniards
who made the earlier recorded voyages to America, lived in the souls of
Western mountaineers as late as the first half of this century. Ample
discoveries of gold in California and Colorado gave color to the belief
in this land of riches, and hunger, illness, privation, the persecutions
of savages, and death itself were braved in the effort to reach and
unlock the treasure caves of earth. Until mining became a systematic
business, prospectors were dissatisfied with the smaller deposits of
precious metal and dreamed of golden hills farther away. The unknown
regions beyond the Rocky Mountains were filled by imagination with
magnificent possibilities, and it was the hope of the miner to penetrate
the wilderness, "strike it rich," and "make his pile."

Thus, the region indicated as "over the divide" meaning the continental
water-shed-or "over the range" came to signify not a delectable land
alone, but a sum of delectable conditions, and, ultimately, the goal of
posthumous delights. Hence the phrase in use to-day: "Poor Bill! He's
gone over the divide."

The Indian's name of heaven--"the happy hunting ground"--is of similar
significance, and among many of the tribes it had a definite place in the
far Southwest, to which their souls were carried on cobweb floats. Just
before reaching it they came to a dark river that had to be crossed on a
log. If they had been good in the world of the living they suffered no
harm from the rocks and surges, but if their lives had been evil they
never reached the farther shore, for they were swept into a place of
whirlpools, where, for ever and ever, they were tossed on the torrent
amid thousands of clinging, stinging snakes and shoals of putrid fish.
From the far North and East the Milky Way was the star-path across the


Soon after the rails were laid across Marshall Pass, Colorado, where they
go over a height of twelve thousand feet above the sea, an old engineer
named Nelson Edwards was assigned to a train. He had travelled the road
with passengers behind him for a couple of months and met with no
accident, but one night as he set off for the divide he fancied that the
silence was deeper, the canon darker, and the air frostier than usual. A
defective rail and an unsafe bridge had been reported that morning, and
he began the long ascent with some misgivings. As he left the first line
of snow-sheds he heard a whistle echoing somewhere among the ice and
rocks, and at the same time the gong in his cab sounded and he applied
the brakes.

The conductor ran up and asked, "What did you stop for?"

"Why did you signal to stop?"

"I gave no signal. Pull her open and light out, for we've got to pass No.
19 at the switches, and there's a wild train climbing behind us."

Edwards drew the lever, sanded the track, and the heavy train got under
way again; but the whistles behind grew nearer, sounding danger-signals,
and in turning a curve he looked out and saw a train speeding after him
at a rate that must bring it against the rear of his own train if
something were not done. He broke into a sweat as he pulled the throttle
wide open and lunged into a snow-bank. The cars lurched, but the snow was
flung off and the train went roaring through another shed. Here was where
the defective rail had been reported. No matter. A greater danger was
pressing behind. The fireman piled on coal until his clothes were wet
with perspiration, and fire belched from the smoke-stack. The passengers,
too, having been warned of their peril, had dressed themselves and were
anxiously watching at the windows, for talk went among them that a mad
engineer was driving the train behind.

As Edwards crossed the summit he shut off steam and surrendered his train
to the force of gravity. Looking back, he could see by the faint light
from new snow that the driving-wheels on the rear engine were bigger than
his own, and that a tall figure stood atop of the cars and gestured
franticly. At a sharp turn in the track he found the other train but two
hundred yards behind, and as he swept around the curve the engineer who
was chasing him leaned from his window and laughed. His face was like
dough. Snow was falling and had begun to drift in the hollows, but the
trains flew on; bridges shook as they thundered across them; wind
screamed in the ears of the passengers; the suspected bridge was reached;
Edwards's heart was in his throat, but he seemed to clear the chasm by a
bound. Now the switch was in sight, but No. 19 was not there, and as the
brakes were freed the train shot by like a flash. Suddenly a red light
appeared ahead, swinging to and fro on the track. As well be run into
behind as to crash into an obstacle ahead. He heard the whistle of the
pursuing locomotive yelp behind him, yet he reversed the lever and put on
brakes, and for a few seconds lived in a hell of dread.

Hearing no sound, now, he glanced back and saw the wild train almost leap
upon his own--yet just before it touched it the track seemed to spread,
the engine toppled from the bank, the whole train rolled into the canon
and vanished. Edwards shuddered and listened. No cry of hurt men or hiss
of steam came up--nothing but the groan of the wind as it rolled through
the black depth. The lantern ahead, too, had disappeared. Now another
danger impended, and there was no time to linger, for No. 19 might be on
its way ahead if he did not reach the second switch before it moved out.
The mad run was resumed and the second switch was reached in time. As
Edwards was finishing the run to Green River, which he reached in the
morning ahead of schedule, he found written in the frost of his
cab-window these words: "A frate train was recked as yu saw. Now that yu
saw it yu will never make another run. The enjine was not ounder control
and four sexshun men wor killed. If yu ever run on this road again yu
will be recked." Edwards quit the road that morning, and returning to
Denver found employment on the Union Pacific. No wreck was discovered
next day in the canon where he had seen it, nor has the phantom train
been in chase of any engineer who has crossed the divide since that


In the days when Spain ruled the Western country an infantry regiment was
ordered out from Santa Fe to open communication with Florida and to carry
a chest of gold for the payment of the soldiers in St. Augustine. The men
wintered on the site of Trinidad, comforted by the society of their wives
and families, and in the spring the women and camp-followers were
directed to remain, while the troops set forward along the canon of the
Purgatoire--neither to reach their destination nor to return. Did they
attempt to descend the stream in boats and go to wreck among the rapids?
Were they swept into eternity by a freshet? Did they lose their
provisions and starve in the desert? Did the Indians revenge themselves
for brutality and selfishness by slaying them at night or from an ambush?
Were they killed by banditti? Did they sink in the quicksands that led
the river into subterranean canals? None will ever know, perhaps; but
many years afterward a savage told a priest in Santa Fe that the regiment
had been surrounded by Indians, as Custer's command was in Montana, and
slain, to a man. Seeing that escape was hopeless, the colonel--so said
the narrator--had buried the gold that he was transporting. Thousands of
doubloons are believed to be hidden in the canon, and thousands of
dollars have been spent in searching for them.

After weeks had lapsed into months and months into years, and no word
came of the missing regiment, the priests named the river El Rio de las
Animas Perdidas--the River of Lost Souls. The echoing of the flood as it
tumbled through the canon was said to be the lamentation of the troopers.
French trappers softened the suggestion of the Spanish title when they
renamed it Purgatoire, and--"bullwhackers" teaming across the plains
twisted the French title into the unmeaning "Picketwire." But
Americo-Spaniards keep alive the tradition, and the prayers of many have
ascended and do ascend for the succor of those who vanished so strangely
in the valley of Las Animas.


Among the sandstone columns of the Colorado foot-hills stood the lodge of
Ta-in-ga-ro (First Falling Thunder). Though swift in the chase and brave
in battle, he seldom went abroad with neighboring tribes, for he was
happy in the society of his wife, Zecana (The Bird). To sell beaver and
wild sheep-skins he often went with her to a post on the New Mexico
frontier, and it was while at this fort that a Spanish trader saw the
pretty Zecana, and, determining to win her, sent the Indian on a mission
into the heart of the mountains, with a promise that she should rest
securely at the settlement until his return.

On his way Ta-in-ga-ro stopped at the spring in Manitou, and after
drinking he cast beads and wampum into the well in oblation to its deity.
The offering was flung out by the bubbling water, and as he stared,
distressed at this unwelcome omen, a picture formed on the surface--the
anguished features of Zecana. He ran to his horse, galloped away, and
paused neither for rest nor food till he had reached the post. The
Spaniard was gone. Turning, then, to the foot-hills, he urged his jaded
horse toward his cabin, and arrived, one bright morning, flushed with joy
to see his wife before his door and to hear her singing. When he spoke
she looked up carelessly and resumed her song. She did not know him.
Reason was gone.

It was his cry of rage and grief, when, from her babbling, Ta-in-ga-ro
learned of the Spaniard's treachery, that brought the wandering mind back
for an instant. Looking at her husband with a strange surprise and pain,
she plucked the knife from his belt. Before he could realize her purpose
she had thrust it into her heart and had fallen dead at his feet. For
hours he stood there in stupefaction, but the stolid Indian nature soon
resumed its sway. Setting his lodge in order and feeding his horse, he
wrapped Zecana's body in a buffalo-skin, then slept through the night in
sheer exhaustion. Two nights afterward the Indian stood in the shadow of
a room in the trading fort and watched the Spaniard as he lay asleep.
Nobody knew how he passed the guard.

In the small hours the traitor was roused by the strain of a belt across
his mouth, and leaping up to fling it off, he felt the tug of a lariat at
his throat. His struggles were useless. In a few moments he was bound
hand and foot. Lifting some strips of bark from the low roof, Ta-in-ga-ro
pushed the Spaniard through the aperture and lowered him to the ground,
outside the enclosure of which the house formed part. Then, at the embers
of a fire he kindled an arrow wrapped in the down of cottonwood and shot
it into a haystack in the court. In the smoke and confusion thus made,
his own escape was unseen, save by a guardsman drowsily pacing his beat
outside the square of buildings. The sentinel would have given the alarm,
had not the Indian pounced on him like a panther and laid him dead with a

Catching up the Spaniard, the Indian tied him to the back of a horse and
set off beside him. Thus they journeyed until they came to his lodge,
where he released the trader from his horse and fed him, but kept his
hands and legs hard bound, and paid no attention to his questions and his
appeals for liberty. Tying a strong and half-trained horse at his door,
Ta-in-ga-ro placed a wooden saddle on him, cut off the Spaniard's
clothes, and put him astride of the beast. After he had fastened him into
his seat with deer-skin thongs, he took Zecana's corpse from its wrapping
and tied it to his prisoner, face to face.

Then, loosing the horse, which was plunging and snorting to be rid of his
burden, he saw him rush off on the limitless desert, and followed on his
own strong steed. At first the Spaniard fainted; on recovering he
struggled to get free, but his struggles only brought him closer to the
ghastly thing before him. Noon-day heat covered him with sweat and blood
dripped from the wales that the cords cut in his flesh. At night he froze
uncovered in the chill air, and, if for an instant his eyes closed in
sleep, a curse, yelled into his ear, awoke him. Ta-inga-ro gave him drink
from time to time, but never food, and so they rode for days. At last
hunger overbore his loathing, and sinking his teeth into the dead flesh
before him he feasted like a ghoul.

Still they rode, Ta-in-ga-ro never far from his victim, on whose
sufferings he gloated, until a gibbering cry told him that the Spaniard
had gone mad. Then, and not till then, he drew rein and watched the horse
with its dead and maniac riders until they disappeared in the yellow
void. He turned away, but nevermore sought his home. To and fro, through
the brush, the sand, the alkali of the plains, go the ghost riders,


When white men first penetrated the Western wilderness of America they
found the tribes of Shoshone and Comanche at odds, and it is a legend of
the springs of Manitou that their differences began there. This "Saratoga
of the West," nestling in a hollow of the foot-hills in the shadow of the
noble peak of Pike, was in old days common meeting-ground for several
families of red men. Councils were held in safety there, for no Indian
dared provoke the wrath of the manitou whose breath sparkled in the
"medicine waters." None? Yes, one. For, centuries ago a Shoshone and a
Comanche stopped here on their return from a hunt to drink. The Shoshone
had been successful; the Comanche was empty handed and ill tempered,
jealous of the other's skill and fortune. Flinging down the fat deer that
he was bearing homeward on his shoulders, the Shoshone bent over the
spring of sweet water, and, after pouring a handful of it on the ground,
as a libation to the spirit of the place, he put his lips to the surface.
It needed but faint pretext for his companion to begin a quarrel, and he
did so in this fashion: "Why does a stranger drink at the spring-head
when one of the owners of the fountain contents himself with its
overflow? How does a Shoshone dare to drink above me?"

The other replied, "The Great Spirit places the water at the spring that
his children may drink it undefiled. I am Ausaqua, chief of Shoshones,
and I drink at the head-water. Shoshone and Comanche are brothers. Let
them drink together."

"No. The Shoshone pays tribute to the Comanche, and Wacomish leads that
nation to war. He is chief of the Shoshone as he is of his own people."

"Wacomish lies. His tongue is forked, like the snake's. His heart is
black. When the Great Spirit made his children he said not to one, 'Drink
here,' and to another, 'Drink there,' but gave water that all might

The other made no answer, but as Ausaqua stooped toward the bubbling
surface Wacomish crept behind him, flung himself against the hunter,
forced his head beneath the water, and held him there until he was
drowned. As he pulled the dead body from the spring the water became
agitated, and from the bubbles arose a vapor that gradually assumed the
form of a venerable Indian, with long white locks, in whom the murderer
recognized Waukauga, father of the Shoshone and Comanche nation, and a
man whose heroism and goodness made his name revered in both these
tribes. The face of the patriarch was dark with wrath, and he cried, in
terrible tones, "Accursed of my race! This day thou hast severed the
mightiest nation in the world. The blood of the brave Shoshone appeals
for vengeance. May the water of thy tribe be rank and bitter in their

Then, whirling up an elk-horn club, he brought it full on the head of the
wretched man, who cringed before him. The murderer's head was burst open
and he tumbled lifeless into the spring, that to this day is nauseous,
while, to perpetuate the memory of Ausaqua, the manitou smote a
neighboring rock, and from it gushed a fountain of delicious water. The
bodies were found, and the partisans of both the hunters began on that
day a long and destructive warfare, in which other tribes became involved
until mountaineers were arrayed against plainsmen through all that


A hundred years before the white men set up their trading-posts on the
Arkansas and Platte, a band of mountain hunters made a descent on what
they took to be a small company of plainsmen, but who proved to be the
enemy in force, and who, in turn, drove the Utes--for the aggressors were
of that tribe--into the hills. Most of them took refuge on a castellated
rock on the south side of Bowlder Canon, where they held their own for
several days, rolling down huge rocks whenever an attempt was made to
storm the height; wherefore, seeing that the mountain was too secure a
stronghold to be taken in that way, the besiegers camped about it, and,
by cutting off the access of the beleaguered party to game and to water,
starved every one of them to death.

This, too, is the story of Starved Rock, on Illinois River, near Ottawa,
Illinois. It is a sandstone bluff, one hundred and fifty feet high, with
a slope on one side only. Its summit is an acre in extent, and at the
order of La Salle his Indian lieutenant, Tonti, fortified the place and
mounted a small cannon on it. He died there afterward. After the killing
of Pontiac at Cahokia, some of his people--the Ottawas--charged the crime
against their enemies, the Illinois. The latter, being few in number,
entrenched themselves on Starved Rock, where they kept their enemies at
bay, but were unable to break their line to reach supplies. For a time
they secured water by letting down bark vessels into the river at the end
of thongs, but the Ottawas came under the bluff in canoes and cut the
cords. Unwilling to surrender, the Illinois remained there until all had
died of starvation. Bones and relics are found occasionally at the top.

There is yet another place of which a similar narrative is
extant--namely, Crow Butte, Nebraska, which is two hundred feet high and
vertical on all sides save one, but on that a horseman may ascend in
safety. A company of Crows, flying from the Sioux, gained this citadel
and defended the path so vigorously that their pursuers gave over all
attempts to follow them, but squatted calmly on the plain and proceeded
to starve them out. On a dark night the besieged killed some of their
ponies and made lariats of their hides, by which they reached the ground
on the unguarded side of the rock. They slid down, one at a time, and
made off all but one aged Indian, who stayed to keep the camp-fire
burning as a blind. He went down and surrendered on the next day, but the
Sioux, respecting his age and loyalty, gave him freedom.


Although the Indians feared the geyser basins of the upper Yellowstone
country, believing the hissing and thundering to be voices of evil
spirits, they regarded the mountains at the head of the river as the
crest of the world, and whoso gained their summits could see the happy
hunting-grounds below, brightened with the homes of the blessed. They
loved this land in which their fathers had hunted, and when they were
driven back from the settlements the Crows took refuge in what is now
Yellowstone Park. Even here the soldiers pursued them, intent on avenging
acts that the red men had committed while suffering under the sting of
tyranny and wrong. A mere remnant of the fugitive band gathered at the
head of that mighty rift in the earth known as the Grand Canon of the
Yellowstone--a remnant that had succeeded in escaping the bullets of the
soldiery,--and with Spartan courage they resolved to die rather than be
taken and carried away to pine in a distant prison. They built a raft and
placed it on the river at the foot of the upper fall, and for a few days
they enjoyed the plenty and peace that were their privilege in former
times. A short-lived peace, however, for one morning they are aroused by
the crack of rifles--the troops are upon them.

Boarding their raft they thrust it toward the middle of the stream,
perhaps with the idea of gaining the opposite shore, but, if such is
their intent, it is thwarted by the rapidity of the current. A few among
them have guns, that they discharge with slight effect at the troops, who
stand wondering on the shore. The soldiers forbear to fire, and watch,
with something like dread, the descent of the raft as it passes into the
current, and, with many a turn and pitch, whirls on faster and faster.
The death-song rises triumphant above the lash of the waves and that
distant but awful booming that is to be heard in the canon. Every red man
has his face turned toward the foe with a look of defiance, and the tones
of the death-chant have in them something of mockery no less than hate
and vaunting.

The raft is now between the jaws of rock that yawn so hungrily. Beyond
and below are vast walls, shelving toward the floor of the gulf a
thousand feet beneath--their brilliant colors shining in the sun of
morning that sheds as peaceful a light on wood and hill as if there were
no such thing as brother hunting brother in this free land of ours. The
raft is galloping through the foam like a racehorse, and, hardened as the
soldiers are, they cannot repress a shudder as they see the fate that the
savages have chosen for themselves. Now the brink is reached. The raft
tips toward the gulf, and with a cry of triumph the red men are launched
over the cataract, into the bellowing chasm, where the mists weep forever
on the rocks and mosses.


Down in the canon of Chaco, New Mexico, stands a building evidently
coeval with those of the cliff dwellers, that is still in good
preservation and is called the Broad House. When Noqoilpi, the gambling
god, came on earth he strayed into this canon, and, finding the Moquis a
prosperous people, he envied them and resolved to win their property. To
do that he laid off a race-track at the bottom of the ravine and
challenged them to meet him there in games of chance and strength and
skill. They accepted his challenge, and, as he could turn luck to his own
side, he soon won not their property alone, but their women and children,
and, finally, some of the men themselves.

In his greed he had acquired more than he wanted, and as the captives
were a burden to him he offered to make a partial restoration if the
people would build this house for him. They did so and he gave up some of
the men and women. The other gods looked with disapproval on this
performance, however, and they agreed to give the wind god power to
defeat him, for, now that he had secured his house, he had gone to
gambling again. The wind god, in disguise as a Moqui, issued a challenge,
and the animals agreed to help him.

When the contest in tree-pulling took place the wind god pulled up a
large tree while Noqoilpi was unable to stir a smaller one. That was
because the beavers had cut the roots of the larger. In the ball contest
Noqoilpi drove the ball nearly to the bounds, but the wind god sent his
far beyond, for wrapped loosely in it was a bird that freed itself before
touching the ground and flew away. In brief, Noqoilpi was beaten at every
point and the remaining captives left him, with jeers, and returned to
their people.

The gambler cursed and raged until the wind god seized him, fitted him to
a bow, like an arrow, and shot him into the sky. He flew far out of
sight, and presently came to the long row of stone houses where the man
lives who carries the moon. He pitied the gambler and made new animals
and people for him and let him down to the earth in old Mexico, the moon
people becoming Mexicans. He returned to his old haunts and came
northward, building towns along the Rio Grande until he had passed the
site of Santa Fe, when his people urged him to go back, and after his
return they made him their god--Nakai Cigini.


Years ago, when all beyond the Missouri was a waste, the military post at
Fort Union, New Mexico, was the only spot for miles around where any of
the graces of social life could be discovered. Among the ladies at the
post was a certain gay young woman, the sister-in-law of a captain, who
enjoyed the variety and spice of adventure to be found there, and
enjoyed, too, the homage that the young officers paid to her, for women
who could be loved or liked were not many in that wild country. A young
lieutenant proved especially susceptible to her charms, and devoted
himself to her in the hope that he should ultimately win her hand. His
experience with the world was not large enough to enable him to
distinguish between the womanly woman and the coquette.

One day messengers came dashing into the fort with news of an Apache
outbreak, and a detachment was ordered out to chase and punish the
marauding Indians. The lieutenant was put in command of the expedition,
but before starting he confided his love to the young woman, who not only
acknowledged that she returned his affection, but promised that if the
fortune of war deprived him of life she would never marry another. As he
bade her good-by he was heard to say, "That is well. Nobody else shall
have you. I will come back and make my claim."

In a few days the detachment came back, but the lieutenant was missing.
It was noticed that the bride-elect grieved but little for him, and
nobody was surprised when she announced her intention of marrying a young
man from the East. The wedding-day arrived. All was gayety at the post,
and in the evening the mess-room was decorated for a ball. As the dance
was in full swing a door flew open with a bang, letting in a draught of
air that made the candles burn dim, and a strange cry, unlike that of any
human creature, sounded through the house. All eyes turned to the door.
In it stood the swollen body of a dead man dressed in the stained uniform
of an officer. The temple was marked by a hatchet-gash, the scalp was
gone, the eyes were wide open and, burned with a terrible light.

Walking to the bride the body drew her from the arms of her husband, who,
like the rest of the company, stood as in a trance, without the power of
motion, and clasping her to its bosom began a waltz. The musicians, who
afterward declared that they did not know what they were doing, struck up
a demoniac dance, and the couple spun around and around, the woman
growing paler and paler, until at last the fallen jaw and staring eyes
showed that life was also extinct in her. The dead man allowed her to
sink to the floor, stood over her for a moment, wrung his hands as he
sounded his fearful cry again, then vanished through the door. A few days
after, a troop of soldiers who had been to the scene of the Apache
encounter returned with the body of the lieutenant.


Many are the scenes of religious miracles in this country, although
French Canada and old Mexico boast of more. So late as the prosaic year
of 1889 the Virgin was seen to descend into the streets of Johnstown,
Pennsylvania, to save her image on the Catholic church in that place, when
it was swept by a deluge in which hundreds of persons perished. It was
the wrath of the Madonna that caused just such a flood in New Mexico long
years ago. There is in the old Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Santa
Fe, a picture that commemorates the appearance of the Virgin to Juan
Diego, an Indian in Guadalupe, old Mexico, in the sixteenth century. She
commanded that a chapel should be built for her, but the bishop of the
diocese declared that the man had been dreaming and told him to go away.
The Virgin came to the Indian again, and still the bishop declared that
he had no evidence of the truth of what he said. A third time the
supernatural visitor appeared, and told Juan to climb a certain difficult
mountain, pick the flowers he would find there, and take them to the

After a long and dangerous climb they were found, to the Indian's
amazement, growing in the snow. He filled his blanket with them and
returned to the episcopal residence, but when he opened the folds before
the dignitary, he was more amazed to find not flowers, but a glowing
picture painted on his blanket. It hangs now in Guadalupe, but is
duplicated in Santa Fe, where a statue of the Virgin is also kept. These
treasures are greatly prized and are resorted to in time of illness and
threatened disaster, the statue being taken through the streets in
procession when the rainy season is due. Collections of money are then
made and prayers are put up for rain, to which appeals the Virgin makes
prompt response, the priests pointing triumphantly to the results of
their intercession. One year, however, the rain did not begin on time,
though services were almost constantly continued before the sacred
picture and the sacred statue, and the angry people stripped the image of
its silks and gold lace and kicked it over the ground for hours. That
night a violent rain set in and the town was nearly washed away, so the
populace hastened the work of reparation in order to save their lives.
They cleansed the statue, dressed it still more brilliantly, and
addressed their prayers to the Virgin with more energy and earnestness
than ever before.


Between Zuni and Pescado is a steep mesa, or table-land, with fantastic
rocks weathered into tower and roof-like prominences on its sides, while
near it is a high natural monument of stone. Say the Zunis: The goddess
of salt was so troubled by the people who lived near her domain on the
sea-shore, and who took away her snowy treasures without offering any
sacrifice in return, that she forsook the ocean and went to live in the
mountains far away. Whenever she stopped beside a pool to rest she made
it salt, and she wandered so long about the great basins of the West that
much of the water in them is bitter, and the yield of salt from the
larger lake near Zuni brings into the Zuni treasury large tolls from
other tribes that draw from it.

Here she met the turquoise god, who fell in love with her at sight, and
wooed so warmly that she accepted and married him. For a time they lived
happily, but when the people learned that the goddess had concealed
herself among the mountains of New Mexico they followed her to that land
and troubled her again until she declared that she would leave their view
forever. She entered this mesa, breaking her way through a high wall of
sandstone as she did so. The arched portal through which she passed is
plainly visible. As she went through, one of her plumes was broken off,
and falling into the valley it tipped upon its stem and became the
monument that is seen there. The god of turquoise followed his wife, and
his footsteps may be traced in outcrops of pale-blue stone.


Many fantastic accounts of the origin of man are found among the red
tribes. The Onondagas say that the Indians are made from red earth and
the white men from sea-foam. Flesh-making clay is seen in the precipitous
bank in the ravine west of Onondaga Valley, where at night the fairies
"little fellows" sport and slide. Among others, the Noah legend finds a
parallel. Several tribes claim to have emerged from the interior of the
earth. The Oneidas point to a hill near the falls of Oswego River, New
York, as their birthplace; the Wichitas rose from the rocks about Red
River; the Creeks from a knoll in the valley of Big Black River in the
Natchez country, where dwelt the Master of Breath; the Aztecs were one of
seven tribes that came out from the seven caverns of Aztlan, or Place of
the Heron; and the Navajos believe that they emerged at a place known to
them in the Navajo Mountains.

In the under world the Navajos were happy, for they had everything that
they could wish: there was no excess of heat or cold, trees and flowers
grew everywhere, and the day was marked by a bright cloud that arose in
the east, while a black cloud that came out of the west made the night.
Here they lived for centuries, and might have been there to this day had
not one of the tribe found an opening in the earth that led to some place
unknown. He told of it to the whole tribe. They set off up the passage to
see where it led, and after long and weary climbing the surface was
reached. Pleased with the novelty of their surroundings, they settled
here, but on the fourth day after their arrival their queen disappeared.

Their search for her was unavailing until some of the men came to the
mouth of the tunnel by which they had reached the upper land, when,
looking down, they saw their queen combing her long, black locks. She
told them that she was dead and that her people could go to her only
after death, but that they would be happy in their old home. With that
the earth shut together and the place has never since been open to the
eye of mortals. Soon came the cannibal giants who ravaged the desert
lands and destroyed all of the tribe but four families, these having
found a refuge in a deep canon of the Navajo Mountains. From their
retreat they could see a beam of light shining from one of the hills
above them, and on ascending to the place they found a beautiful girl

This child grew to womanhood under their care, and her charms attracted
the great manitou that rides on a white horse and carries the sun for a
shield. He wooed and married her, and their children slew the giants that
had destroyed the Navajos. After a time the manitou carried his wife to
his floating palace in the western water, which has since been her home.
To her the prayers of the people are addressed, and twelve immortals bear
their petitions to her throne.


The Pima Indians of Arizona say that the father of all men and animals
was the butterfly, Cherwit Make (earth-maker), who fluttered down from
the clouds to the Blue Cliffs at the junction of the Verde and Salt
Rivers, and from his own sweat made men. As the people multiplied they
grew selfish and quarrelsome, so that Cherwit Make was disgusted with his
handiwork and resolved to drown them all. But first he told them, in the
voice of the north wind, to be honest and to live at peace. The prophet
Suha, who interpreted this voice, was called a fool for listening to the
wind, but next night came the east wind and repeated the command, with an
added threat that the ruler of heaven would destroy them all if they did
not reform.

Again they scoffed, and on the next night the west wind cautioned them.
But this third warning was equally futile. On the fourth night came the
south wind. It breathed into Suha's ear that he alone had been good and
should be saved, and bade him make a hollow ball of spruce gum in which
he might float while the deluge lasted. Suha and his wife immediately set
out to gather the gum, that they melted and shaped until they had made a
large, rounded ark, which they ballasted with jars of nuts, acorn-meal
and water, and meat of bear and venison.

On the day assigned Suha and his wife were looking regretfully down into
the green valleys from the ledge where the ark rested, listening to the
song of the harvesters, and sighing to think that so much beauty would
presently be laid waste, when a hand of fire was thrust from a cloud and
it smote the Blue Cliffs with a thunder-clang. It was the signal. Swift
came the clouds from all directions, and down poured the rain.
Withdrawing into their waxen ball, Suha and his wife closed the portal.
Then for some days they were rolled and tossed on an ever-deepening sea.
Their stores had almost given out when the ark stopped, and breaking a
hole in its side its occupants stepped forth.

There was a tuna cactus growing at their feet, and they ate of its red
fruit greedily, but all around them was naught but water. When night came
on they retired to the ark and slept--a night, a month, a year, perhaps a
century, for when they awoke the water was gone, the vales were filled
with verdure, and bird-songs rang through the woods. The delighted couple
descended the Superstition Mountains, on which the ark had rested, and
went into its valleys, where they lived for a thousand years, and became
the parents of a great tribe.

But the evil was not all gone. There was one Hauk, a devil of the
mountains, who stole their daughters and slew their sons. One day, while
the women were spinning flax and cactus fibre and the men were gathering
maize, Hauk descended into the settlement and stole another of Suha's
daughters. The patriarch, whose patience had been taxed to its limit,
then made a vow to slay the devil. He watched to see by what way he
entered the valley. He silently followed him into the Superstition
Mountains; he drugged the cactus wine that his daughter was to serve to
him; then, when he had drunk it, Suha emerged from his place of hiding
and beat out the brains of the stupefied fiend.

Some of the devil's brains were scattered and became seed for other evil,
but there was less wickedness in the world after Hauk had been disposed
of than there had been before. Suha taught his people to build adobe
houses, to dig with shovels, to irrigate their land, to weave cloth, and
avoid wars. But on his death-bed he foretold to them that they would grow
arrogant with wealth, covetous of the lands of others, and would wage
wars for gain. When that time came there would be another flood and not
one should be saved--the bad should vanish and the good would leave the
earth and live in the sun. So firmly do the Pimas rely on this prophecy
that they will not cross Superstition Mountains, for there sits Cherwit
Make--awaiting the culmination of their wickedness to let loose on the
earth a mighty sea that lies dammed behind the range.


Twenty miles from the capital of Arizona stands Mount Superstition--the
scene of many traditions, the object of many fears. Two centuries ago a
tribe of Pueblo dwarfs arrived near it and tilled the soil and tended
their flocks about the settlements that grew along their line of march.
They were little people, four feet high, but they were a thousand strong
and clever. They were peaceful, like all intelligent people, and the
mystery surrounding their incantations and sun-worship was more potent
than a show of arms to frighten away those natural assassins, the

After they had lived near the mountain for five years the "little people"
learned that the Zunis were advancing from the south and made
preparations for defence. Their sheep were concealed in obscure valleys;
provisions, tools, and arms were carried up the mountain; piles of stone
were placed along the edges of cliffs commanding the passes. This work
was superintended by a woman with a white face, fair hair, and commanding
form, who was held in reverence by the dwarfs; and she it was--the Helen
of a New-World Troy--who was causing this trouble, for the Zunis claimed
her on the ground that they had brought her from the waters of the rising
sun, and that it was only to escape an honorable marriage with their
chief that she had fled to the dwarfs.

Be that as it might, the Zunis marched on, meeting with faint resistance
until, on a bright afternoon, they massed on a slope of the mountain,
seven hundred in number. The Apaches, expecting instant defeat of the
"little men," watched, from neighboring hills, the advance of the
invaders as they climbed nimbly toward the stone fort on the top of the
slope, brandishing clubs and stone spears, and bragging, as the fashion
of a red man is--and sometimes of a white one.

At a pool outside of the walls stood the pale woman, queenly and calm,
and as her white robe and brown hair fluttered in the wind both her
people and the foe looked upon her with admiration. When but a hundred
yards away the Zunis rushed toward her with outstretched arms, whereupon
she stooped, picked up an earthen jar, emptied its contents into the
pool, and ran back. In a moment sparks and balls of fire leaped from
crevices in the rocks, and as they touched the Indians many fell dead.
Others plunged blindly over the cliffs and were dashed to pieces.

In a few minutes the remainder of the force was in full retreat and not
an arrow had been shot. The Apaches, though stricken with terror at these
pyrotechnics, overcame the memory of them sufficiently in a couple of
years to attempt the sack of the fort on their own account, but the queen
repelled them as she had forced back the Zunis, and with even greater
slaughter. From that time the dwarfs were never harmed again, but they
went away, as suddenly as they had come, to a secret recess in the
mountains, where the Pale Faced Lightning still rules them.

Some of the Apaches maintain that her spirit haunts a cave on
Superstition Mountain, where her body vanished in a blaze of fire, and
this cave of the Spirit Mother is also pointed out on the south side of
Salt River. A skeleton and cotton robes, ornamented and of silky texture,
were once found there. It is said that electrical phenomena are frequent
on the mountain, and that iron, copper, salt, and copperas lying near
together may account for them.


There is a cave under the highest butte of the Squaw Peak range, Arizona,
where a party of Tonto Indians was found by white men in 1868. The white
men were on the war-path, and when the Tontos fell into their hands they
shot them unhesitatingly, firing into the dark recesses of the cavern,
the fitful but fast-recurring flashes of their rifles illuminating the
interior and exposing to view the objects of their hatred.

The massacre over, the cries and groans were hushed, the hunters strode
away, and over the mountains fell the calm that for thousands of years
had not been so rudely broken. That night, when the moon shone into this
pit of death, a corpse arose, walked to a rock just within the entrance,
and took there its everlasting seat.

Long afterward a man who did not know its story entered this place, when
he was confronted by a thing, as he called it, that glared so fearfully
upon him that he fled in an ecstasy of terror. Two prospectors
subsequently attempted to explore the cave, but the entrance was barred
by "the thing." They gave one glance at the torn face, the bulging eyes
turned sidewise at them, the yellow fangs, the long hair, the spreading
claws, the livid, mouldy flesh, and rushed away. A Western paper,
recounting their adventure, said that one of the men declared that there
was not money enough in Maricopa County to pay him to go there again,
while the other had never stopped running--at least, he had not returned
to his usual haunts since "the thing" looked at him. Still, it is haunted
country all about here. The souls of the Mojaves roam upon Ghost
Mountain, and the "bad men's hunting-grounds" of the Yumas and Navajos
are over in the volcanic country of Sonora. It is, therefore, no unusual
thing to find signs and wonders in broad daylight.


Centuries ago, when Toltec civilization had extended over Arizona, and
perhaps over the whole West, the valleys were occupied by large
towns--the towns whose ruins are now known as the City of Ovens, City of
Stones, and City of the Dead. The people worked at trades and arts that
had been practised by their ancestors before the pyramids were built in
Egypt. Montezuma had come to the throne of Mexico, and the Aztecs were a
subject people; Europe had discovered America and forgotten it, and in
America the arrival of Europeans was recalled only in traditions. But,
like other nations, the Toltecs became a prey to self-confidence, to
luxury, to wastefulness, and to deadening superstitions. Already the
fierce tribes of the North were lurking on the confines of their country
in a faith of speedy conquest, and at times it seemed as if the elements
were against them.

The villagers were returning from the fields, one day, when the entire
region was smitten by an earthquake. Houses trembled, rumblings were
heard, people fell in trying to reach the streets, and reservoirs burst,
wasting their contents on the fevered soil. A sacrifice was offered. Then
came a second shock, and another mortal was offered in oblation. As the
earth still heaved and the earthquake demon muttered underground, the
king gave his daughter to the priests, that his people might be spared,
though he wrung his hands and beat his brow as he saw her led away and
knew that in an hour her blood would stream from the altar.

The girl walked firmly to the cave where the altar was erected--a cave in
Superstition Mountains. She knelt and closed her eyes as the
officiating-priest uttered a prayer, and, gripping his knife of jade
stone, plunged it into her heart. She fell without a struggle. And now,
the end.

Hardly had the innocent blood drained out and the fires been lighted to
consume the body, when a pall of cloud came sweeping across the heavens;
a hot wind surged over the ground, laden with dust and smoke; the
storm-struck earth writhed anew beneath pelting thunder-bolts; no tremor
this time, but an upheaval that rent the rocks and flung the cities down.
It was an hour of darkness and terror. Roars of thunder mingled with the
more awful bellowing beneath; crash on crash told that houses and temples
were falling in vast ruin; the mountainsides were loosened and the rush
of avalanches added to the din; the air was thick, and through the clouds
the people groped their way toward the fields; rivers broke from their
confines and laid waste farms and gardens! The gods had indeed abandoned
them, and the spirit of the king's daughter took its flight in company
with thousands of souls in whose behalf she had suffered uselessly.

The king was crushed beneath his palace-roof and the sacerdotal
executioner perished in a fall of rock. The survivors fled in panic and
the Ishmaelite tribes on their frontier entered their kingdom and
pillaged it of all abandoned wealth. The cities never were rebuilt and
were rediscovered but a few years ago, when the maiden's skeleton was
also found. Nor does any Indian cross Superstition Mountains without a
sense of apprehension.


The Indian is a great story-teller. Every tribe has its traditions, and
the elderly men and women like to recount them, for they always find
listeners. And odd stories they tell, too. Just listen to this, for
example. It is a legend among the tribes of Arizona.

While Ta-Vwots, the hare god, was asleep in the valley of Maopa, the Sun
mischievously burned his back, causing him to leap up with a howl. "Aha!
It's you, is it, who played this trick on me?" he cried, looking at the
Sun. "I'll make it warm for you. See if I don't."

And without more ado he set off to fight the Sun. On the way he stopped
to pick and roast some corn, and when the people who had planted it ran
out and tried to punish him for the theft he scratched a hole in the
ground and ran in out of sight. His pursuers shot arrows into the hole,
but Ta-Vwots had his breath with him, and it was an awfully strong
breath, for with it he turned all the arrows aside. "The scamp is in
here," said one of the party. "Let's get at him another way." So, getting
their flints and shovels, they began to dig.

"That's your game, is it?" mumbled Ta-Vwots. "I know a way out of this
that you don't know." With a few puffs of his breath and a few kicks of
his legs he reached a great fissure that led into the rock behind him,
and along this passage he scrambled until he came to the edge of it in a
niche, from which he could watch his enemies digging. When they had made
the hole quite large he shouted, "Be buried in the grave you have dug for
yourselves!" And, hurling down a magic ball that he carried, he caved the
earth in on their heads. Then he paced off, remarking, "To fight is as
good fun as to eat. Vengeance is my work. Every one I meet will be an
enemy. No one shall escape my wrath." And he sounded his war-whoop.

Next day he saw two men heating rocks and chipping arrow-heads from them.
"Let me help you, for hot rocks will not hurt me," he said.

"You would have us to believe you are a spirit, eh?" they questioned,
with a jeer.

"No ghost," he answered, "but a better man than you. Hold me on those
rocks, and, if I do not burn, you must let me do the same to you."

The men complied, and heating the stones to redness in the fire they
placed him against them, but failed to see that by his magic breath he
kept a current of air flowing between him and the hot surface. Rising
unhurt, he demanded that they also should submit to the torture, and,
like true Indians, they did so. When their flesh had been burned half
through and they were dead, he sounded his warwhoop and went on.

On the day following he met two women picking berries, and told them to
blow the leaves and thorns into his eyes. They did so, as they supposed,
but with his magic breath he kept the stuff away from his face.

"You are a ghost!" the women exclaimed.

"No ghost," said he. "Just a common person. Leaves and thorns can do no
harm. See, now." And he puffed thorns into their faces and made them
blind. "Aha! You are caught with your own chaff I am on my way to kill
the Sun. This is good practice." And he slew them, sounded his war-whoop,
and went on.

The morning after this affair some women appeared on Hurricane Cliff and
the wind brought their words to his ears. They were planning to kill him
by rolling rocks upon him as he passed. As he drew near he pretended to
eat something with such enjoyment that they asked him what it was. He
called out, "It is sweet. Come to the edge and I will throw it up to
you." With that he tossed something so nearly within their reach that in
bending forward to catch it they crowded too near the brink, lost their
balance, fell over, and were killed. "You are victims of your own greed.
One should never be so anxious as to kill one's self." This was his only
comment, and, sounding the warwhoop, he went on.

A day later he came upon two women making water jugs of willow baskets
lined with pitch, and he heard one whisper to the other, "Here comes that
bad Ta-Vwots. How shall we destroy him?"

"What were you saying?" asked the hare god.

"We just said, 'Here comes our grandson.'" (A common form of endearment.)

"Is that all? Then let me get into one of these water jugs while you
braid the neck."

He jumped in and lay quite still as they wove the neck, and they laughed
to think that it was braided so small that he could never escape,
when--puff! the jug was shattered and there was Ta-Vwots. They did not
know anything about his magic breath. They wondered how he got out.

"Easily enough," replied the hare god. "These things may hold water, but
they can't hold men and women. Try it, and see if they can." With their
consent, Ta-Vwots began weaving the osiers about them, and in a little
while he had them caged. "Now, come out," he said. But, try as they
might, not a withe could they break. "Ha, ha! You are wise women, aren't
you? Bottled in your own jugs! I am on my way to kill the Sun. In time I
shall learn how." Then, sounding his war-whoop, he struck them dead with
his magic ball and went on.

He met the Bear next day, and found him digging a hole to hide in, for he
had heard of the hare god and was afraid. "Don't be frightened, friend
Bear," said the rogue. "I'm not the sort of fellow to hide from. How
could a little chap like me hurt so many people?" And he helped the Bear
to dig his den, but when it was finished he hid behind a rock, and as the
Bear thrust his head near him he launched his magic ball at his face and
made an end of him. "I was afraid of this warrior," said Ta-Vwots, "but
he is dead, now, in his den." And sounding his war-whoop he went on.

It was on the day following that he met the Tarantula, a clever rascal,
who had a club that would deal a fatal blow to others, but would not hurt
himself. He began to groan as Ta-Vwots drew near, and cried that he had a
pain caused by an evil spirit in his head. Wouldn't Ta-Vwots thump it
out? Indeed, he would. He grasped the club and gave him the soundest kind
of a thwacking, but when the Tarantula shouted "Harder," he guessed that
it was an enchanted weapon, and changing it for his magic ball he
finished the Tarantula at a blow. "That is a stroke of your own seeking,"
he remarked. "I am on my way to kill the Sun. Now I know that I can do
it." And sounding his war-whoop he went on.

Next day he came to the edge of the world and looked off into space,
where thousands of careless people had fallen, and there he passed the
night under a tree. At dawn he stood on the brink of the earth and the
instant that the Sun appeared he flung the magic ball full in his face.
The surface of the Sun was broken into a thousand pieces that spattered
over the earth and kindled a mighty conflagration. Ta-Vwots crept under
the tree that had sheltered him, but that was of no avail against the
increasing heat. He tried to run away, but the fire burned off his toes,
then his feet, then his legs, then his body, so that he ran on his hands,
and when his hands were burned off he walked on the stumps of his arms.
At last his head alone remained, and that rolled over hill and valley
until it struck a rock, when the eyes burst and the tears that gushed
forth spread over the land, putting out the flames. The Sun was
conquered, and at his trial before the other gods was reprimanded for his
mischievous pranks and condemned thereafter to travel across the sky
every day by the same trail.


The ways of disposing of the Indian dead are many. In some places ground
sepulture is common; in others, the corpses are placed in trees. South
Americans mummified their dead, and cremation was not unknown. Enemies
gave no thought to those that they had slain, after plucking off their
scalps as trophies, though they sometimes added the indignity of
mutilation in killing.

Sachem's Head, near Guilford, Connecticut, is so named because Uncas cut
a Pequot's head off and placed it in the crotch of an oak that grew
there. It remained withering for years. It was to save the body of Polan
from such a fate, after the fight on Sebago Lake in 1756, that his
brothers placed it under the root of a sturdy young beech that they had
pried out of the ground. He was laid in the hollow in his war-dress, with
silver cross on his breast and bow and arrows in his hand; then, the
weight on the trunk being released, the sapling sprang back to its place
and afterward rose to a commanding height, fitly marking the Indian's
tomb. Chief Blackbird, of the Omahas, was buried, in accordance with his
wish, on the summit of a bluff near the upper Missouri, on the back of
his favorite horse, fully equipped for travel, with the scalps that he
had taken hung to the bridle.

When a Comanche dies he is buried on the western side of the camp, that
his soul may follow the setting sun into the spirit world the speedier.
His bow, arrows, and valuables are interred with him, and his best pony
is killed at the grave that he may appear among his fellows in the happy
hunting grounds mounted and equipped. An old Comanche who died near Fort
Sill was without relatives and poor, so his tribe thought that any kind
of a horse would do for him to range upon the fields of paradise. They
killed a spavined old plug and left him. Two weeks from that time the
late unlamented galloped into a camp of the Wichitas on the back of a
lop-eared, bob-tailed, sheep-necked, ring-boned horse, with ribs like a
grate, and said he wanted his dinner. Having secured a piece of meat,
formally presented to him on the end of a lodge-pole, he offered himself
to the view of his own people, alarming them by his glaring eyes and
sunken cheeks, and told them that he had come back to haunt them for a
stingy, inconsiderate lot, because the gate-keeper of heaven had refused
to admit him on so ill-conditioned a mount. The camp broke up in dismay.
Wichitas and Comanches journeyed, en masse, to Fort Sill for protection,
and since then they have sacrificed the best horses in their possession
when an unfriended one journeyed to the spirit world.

Myths and Legends


The Moquis have a legend that, long ago, when the principal mesa that
they occupy was higher than it is now, and when they owned all the
country from the mountains to the great river, giants came out of the
west and troubled them, going so far as to dine on Moquis. It was hard to
get away, for the monsters could see all over the country from the tops
of the mesas. The king of the tribe offered the handsomest woman in his
country and a thousand horses to any man who would deliver his people
from these giants. This king was eaten like the rest, and the citizens
declined to elect another, because they were beginning to lose faith in
kings. Still, there was one young brave whose single thought was how to
defeat the giants and save his people.

As he was walking down the mesa he saw a lizard, of the kind commonly
known as a horned toad, lying under a rock in pain. He rolled the stone
away and was passing on, when a voice, that seemed to come out of the
earth, but that really came from the toad, asked him if he wished to
destroy the giants. He desired nothing so much. "Then take my horned
crest for a helmet."

Lolomi--that was the name of him--did as he was bid, and found that in a
moment the crest had swelled and covered his head so thickly that no club
could break through it.

"Now take my breastplate," continued the toad. And though it would not
have covered the Indian's thumb-nail, when he put it on it so increased
in bulk that it corseleted his body and no arrow could pierce it.

"Now take the scales from my eyes," commanded the toad, and when he had
done so Lolomi felt as light as a feather.

"Go up and wait. When you see a giant, go toward him, looking in his
eyes, and he will walk backward. Walk around him until he has his back to
a precipice, then advance. He will back away until he reaches the edge of
the mesa, when he will fall off and be killed."

Lolomi obeyed these instructions, for presently a giant loomed in the
distance and came striding across the plains half a mile at a step. As he
drew near he flung a spear, but it glanced from the Indian's armor like
hail from a rock. Then an arrow followed, and was turned. At this the
giant lost courage, for he fancied that Lolomi was a spirit. Fearing a
blow if he turned, he kept his face toward Lolomi, who manoeuvred so
skilfully that when he had the giant's back to the edge of a cliff he
sprang at him, and the giant, with a yell of alarm, fell and broke his
bones on the rocks below. So Lolomi killed many giants, because they all
walked back before him, and after they had fallen the people heaped rocks
on their bodies. To this day the place is known as "the giants' fall."
Then the tribe made Lolomi king and gave him the most beautiful damsel
for a wife. As he was the best king they ever had, they treasured his
memory after he was dead, and used his name as a term of greeting, so
that "Lolomi" is a word of welcome, and will be until the giants come


In Dead Man's Canon--a deep gorge that is lateral to the once populated
valley of the Rio de Chelly, Arizona--stands a stark spire of weathered
sandstone, its top rising eight hundred feet above its base in a sheer
uplift. Centuries ago an inhabitant of one of the cave villages was
surprised by hostiles while hunting in this region, and was chased by
them into this canon. As he ran he looked vainly from side to side in the
hope of securing a hiding-place, but succor came from a source that was
least expected, for on approaching this enormous obelisk, with strength
well-nigh exhausted, he saw a silken cord hanging from a notch at its
top. Hastily knotting the end about his waist, that it might not fall
within reach of his pursuers, he climbed up, setting his feet into
roughnesses of the stone, and advancing, hand over hand, until he had
reached the summit, where he stayed, drinking dew and feeding on eagles'
eggs, until his enemies went away, for they could not reach him with
their arrows, defended as he was by points of rock. The foemen having
gone, he safely descended by the cord and reached his home. This help had
come from a friendly spider who saw his plight from her perch at the top
of the spire, and, weaving a web of extra thickness, she made one end
fast to a jag of rock while the other fell within his grasp--for she,
like all other of the brute tribe, liked the gentle cave-dwellers better
than the remorseless hunters. Hence the name of the Spider Tower.


The canon of Oak Creek is choked by a mass of rock, shaped like a
keystone, and wedged into the jaws of the defile. An elderly Ute tells
this story of it. Acantow, one of the chiefs of his tribe, usually placed
his lodge beside the spring that bubbled from a thicket of wild roses in
the place where Rosita, Colorado, stands to-day. He left his
wife--Manetabee (Rosebud)--in the lodge while he went across the
mountains to attend a council, and was gone four sleeps. On his return he
found neither wife nor lodge, but footprints and hoofprints in the ground
showed to his keen eye that it was the Arapahoes who had been there.

Getting on their trail he rode over it furiously, and at night had
reached Oak Canon, along which he travelled until he saw the gleam of a
small fire ahead. A squall was coming up, and the noise of it might have
enabled him to gallop fairly into the group that he saw huddled about the
glow; but it is not in the nature of an Indian to do that, and, tying his
horse, he crawled forward.

There were fifteen of the Arapahoes, and they were gambling to decide the
ownership of Manetabee, who sat bound beneath a willow near them. So
engrossed were the savages in the contest that the snake-like approach of
Acantow was unnoticed until he had cut the thongs that bound Manetabee's
wrists and ankles--she did not cry out, for she had expected rescue--and
both had imperceptibly slid away from them. Then, with a yell, one of the
gamblers pointed to the receding forms, and straightway the fifteen made
an onset.

Swinging his wife lightly to his shoulders Acantow set off at a run and
he had almost reached his horse when his foot caught in a root and he
fell headlong. The pursuers were almost upon him when the storm burst in
fury. A flood of fire rushed from the clouds and struck the earth with an
appalling roar. Trees were snapped, rocks were splintered, and a
whirlwind passed. Acantow was nearly insensible for a time--then he felt
the touch of the Rosebud's hand on his cheek, and together they arose and
looked about them. A huge block of riven granite lay in the canon,
dripping blood. Their enemies were not to be seen.

"The trail is gone," said Acantow. "Manitou has broken it, that the
Arapahoes may never cross it more. He would not allow them to take you.
Let us thank the Manitou." So they went back to where the spring burst
amid the rose-bushes.


In the country about Tishomingo, Indian Territory, troubles are foretold
by a battle of unseen men in the air. Whenever the sound of conflict is
heard it is an indication that many dead will lie in the fields, for it
heralds battle, starvation, or pestilence. The powerful nation that lived
here once was completely annihilated by an opposing tribe, and in the
valley in the western part of the Territory there are mounds where
hundreds of men lie buried. Spirits occupy the valley, and to the eyes of
the red men they are still seen, at times, continuing the fight.

In May, 1892, the last demonstration was made in the hearing of John
Willis, a United States marshal, who was hunting horse-thieves. He was
belated one night and entered the vale of mounds, for he had no scruples
against sleeping there. He had not, in fact, ever heard that the region
was haunted. The snorting of his horse in the middle of the night awoke
him and he sprang to his feet, thinking that savages, outlaws, or, at
least, coyotes had disturbed the animal. Although there was a good moon,
he could see nothing moving on the plain. Yet the sounds that filled the
air were like the noise of an army, only a trifle subdued, as if they
were borne on the passing of a wind. The rush of hoofs and of feet, the
striking of blows, the fall of bodies could be heard, and for nearly an
hour these fell rumors went across the earth. At last the horse became so
frantic that Willis saddled him and rode away, and as he reached the edge
of the valley the sounds were heard going into the distance. Not until he
reached a settlement did he learn of the spell that rested on the place.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Volume 07 : Along the Rocky Range" ***

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