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Tutokanula and Tisayac

The vast ravine of Yo Semite (Grizzly Bear), formed by tearing apart the solid Sierras, is graced by many water-falls raining down the mile-high cliffs. The one called Bridal Veil has this tale attached to it. Centuries ago, in the shelter of this valley, lived Tutokanula and his tribe--a good hunter, he, a thoughtful saver of crops and game for winter, a wise chief, trused and loved by his people. While hunting, one day, the tutelary spirit of the valley--the lovely Tisayac--revealed herself to him, and from that moment on he knew no peace, nor did he care for the well-being of his people; for she was not as they were: her skin was white, her hair was golden, and her eyes like heaven; her speech was as a thrush-song and led him to her, but when he opened his arms she rose lighter than any bird and vanished in the sky.

Lacking his direction Yo Semite became a desert, and when Tisayac returned she wept to see the corn lands grown with bushes and bears rooting where the huts had been. On a mighty dome of rock she knelt and begged the Great Spirit to restore its virtue to the land. He did so, for, stooping from the sky, he spread new life of green on all the valley floor, and smiting the mountains he broke a channel for the pent-up meltings of the snows, and the water ran and leaped far down, pooling in a lake below and flowing off to gladden other land. The birds returned, the flowers sprang up, corn swayed in the breeze, and the people, coming back, gave the name of Tisayac to South Dome, where she had knelt.

Then came the chief home again, and, hearing that the spirit had appeared, was smitten with love more strong than ever.

Climbing to the crest of the rock that spires three thousand feet above the valley, he carved his likeness there with his hunting-knife, so that his memory might live among his tribe. As he sat, tired with his work, at the food of the Bridal Veil, he saw, with a rainbow arching around her, the form of Tisayac shining from the water. She smiled on him and beckoned. His quest was at at end. With a cry of joy he sprang into the fall and disappeared with Tisayac. Two rainbows quivered on the falling water, and the sun went down.

"Legends & Lore of the American Indians" by Terri Hardin

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