Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More on Squaw Rock

Kym, The Reheaded Blackbelt provided more history on the naming of Squaw Rock and found this tale in historical records. Even though the following story is convincing, Kym gave me an easy way out by saying it's possibly made up. As with all legends and myths, there is always a speck of truth and history, or a great moral to the story.

Thank-you Kym

The following legend of the " Lover's Leap" was read by Miss Fannie Lamar at Mrs. Poston's Seminary August, 1878:‑

"In the deep CaƱada through which Russian river comes cascading down with rollicking music from the mountains into the broad valley below, a great majestic rock towers several hundred feet perpendicularly from the bank of the river and slopes off to the westward upon a gentle incline. Passengers and tourists who travel the road which runs near its base, gaze with awe and admiration upon this great monument of Nature's marvelous work, and listen attentively to a romantic legend familiar to those who dwell in its vicinity. The story, as related by a native Californian lady, Miss Chatta Feliz, who was reared near this great rock, and who was a cotemporary with the principal actors in the tragedy, runs nearly as follows: Before the conquest of this country by the United States, and when the old Catholic Missions retained much of their primitive glory and beneficent power, many of the Indians were gathered into their folds for religious instruction. With the holy inspiration of the Church, which these simple children of Nature imbibed, they developed a passionate fondness for the fashions and ornaments of civilization. About ten miles south of the great rock, near where now stands the beautiful village of Cloverdale, dwelt a tribe of Indians, among whom was a young chief, a sort of Prince Imperial, whose name was Cachow. He was a fine looking fellow of faultless physique, a mighty hunter, skilled in the use of the bow and arrow, renowned for his prowess and rich in the trophies of the chase, as well as in the plunder of the battle field. To all this hoard of wealth and personal accomplishments he had added the glamour acquired by a short sojourn at the mission of San Rafael, and many beads and other trinkets, the gifts of the kind padres of that once famous mission. Of course Cachow was, as well as a distinguished prince, and a hero among the braves, a great favorite with the dusky ladies of his own and the neighboring tribes. About six miles north of the great rock, on a beautiful plateau called Sanel, on the bank of the river, were the wigwams of the Sanelanos. The chief of these Indians had a handsome young daughter, named Sotuka, whose small feet and hands, wealth of dark hair, grace and comeliness, and, more than all her extraordinary skill in cooking venison and grasshoppers and making buckeye mush, made her as famous within the radius of her acquaintance as was the Queen of Sheba in her country.
"About the time of which I write, in the early autumn, when the golden harvest of the wild oats had been gathered into the great willow baskets, and the wild fruits were abundant, and the deer and the rabbits were still fat, and fish were plentiful in the streams and easily caught, Sotuka's father made a feast and sent his heralds forth with hospitable greetings and invitations to his neighbors. Among the invited guests was the distinguished Cachow, who, with all his fame and manly beauty and gorgeous trappings, was the cynosure of all eyes, and at once became the idol of the royal Sotuka.
"The juiciest acorns were roasted and pounded with Sotuka's own hands for Cachow, and the choicest delicacies of her basket were selected and prepared for him. In short, while Cachow had completely enthralled the heart of Sotuka, he was not insensible to her great beauty and personal accomplishments; and this, their first meeting, resulted in a betrothal. After an exchange of souvenirs, like lovers of other races, and the festivities being over, Cachow returned to his home with a promise to come back in two moons with a deer skin full of beads for Sotuka's father and make the lovely daughter his bride. But Cachow, like many men who have gone before him and many who have succeeded him, was unfaithful to his promise, and before two moons had waned he wedded another. It happened in the course of events that Cachow and his new love, in making their bridal tour, built their camp fire at the eastern base of the great rock, underneath the precipice. Sotuka had already become apprised of the perfidy of her lover, and while busily meditating and planning revenge, was informed by one of her scouts of the camping place of the bridal party. When night came Sotuka left her wigwam and, alone, hastened through the darkness to the great rock and, ascending the western slope, approached the precipice and looked down, where, by the light of the little camp fire, she saw her faithless lover and his bride fast asleep.
"With the merciless vengeance of love to hatred turned, and the desperation of unrequited affection, she clasped in her arms a stone as large as she could lift and sprang off the fearful height upon her sleeping victims On the morrow, the Sanelanos and the tribe of Cachow held a grand imposing inquest over the dead trio, and, having built a great log heap, they placed upon it the three mangled bodies and lighted the funeral pyre Then, to the music of a solemn dirge, the wailings of the mourners and the roaring of the flames, the spirits of the departed, as the Indians say, rode upon a chariot of smoke to the happy hunting ground. Since this tragic scene the great rock has been known as 'The Lover's Leap.'"

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler.


Kym said...

Ernie, I checked out burial practices of the Pomo and they did cremate their dead prior to the 1870's so this would somewhat corroborate the account.

ben said...

This is an interesting story. The Feliz family had the northernmost Spanish land grant at Healdsburg (Sanel). They extended their influence as far north as Round Valley. The Sanel Indians did cremate their dead according to Steven Powers. Powers estimated that the Indian town of Sanel had a population of 1,500! The actual act told in the story is hard to imagine as the rock falls directly into the river.

Anonymous said...

Ben, I politely disagree with you on your point of observation,
"it's hard to imagine as the tock falls directly into the river". I am a long time local and resident of the area. Late spring, summer and fall there are plenty of rocks and river bed exposed to sleep or "party" upon at the location known as "Squaw Rock"

Joanna said...

When I was very young, riding up the narrow two-lane Hwy 101 with my family to Eureka in our 1956 Chevy stationwagon, we passed Squaw Rock. At Christmastime, we would stop for mistletoe across the other side of the road, but back a ways before reaching “the rock”. In the Spring, we would stop and listen to the crackling in the thickets where the scurrying of new life could be heard. I always begged my father to tell us this story, as he was the nurturer in the family wanting to teach my sister and me valuable life lessons. As he told the account of the beautiful Indian princess and her dilemma which brought on their ultimate demise, I listened with attentiveness and amazement, which developed into a type of resolute commitment to such a cause for emotion. My imagination spun all sorts of questions, ideas, and conversation. Since growing up I have always had a desire to return to the area and search for her tribe. I never thought of this as simply a story, but an incredibly sad, but truthful accounting of the event. I had also wondered for some time who had called me "Teachie", a name that no one in my family could recall. Thank you, Ernie and Kym, for posting this beautiful recollection, getting me back in touch with the wonderful parts of my childhood memories. P.S. It may come without surprise I have been practicing in the counseling field most of my life and currently nearing degree completion.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that on the stretch of road north of Squaw Rock, as you are traveling south before the big bend in the road at Pieta Creek, when the rock comes into view it looks like the profile of a Native American?