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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The -Tah-tah-kle'-ah (Owl-Woman Monster)

Hi dear friends and followers. Today we visit The Yakama

The Yakama People are one of the many groups of Native Americans who call Washington State their home. They share it with the Salish, Wenatchi, Spokane, and Chehalis, to name just a few. The topography of the area goes from mountains that border on the Pacific Ocean in the extreme west to the Cascade Mountains that run north and south, thus dividing the state into two distinct climates: cool and damp on the wast side and warmer and drier on the east.

They are similar to the other native inhabitants of the Columbia River Plateau. They were hunters and gatherers well known for trading salmon harvested from annual runs in the Columbia River. In 1805 or 1806, they encountered the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the confluence of the Yakima River and Columbia River.
 

Many people don't see the larger meaning of the Native American usage of the term "medicine." It refers not only to something to make the body well but it also can mean a remedy for a problem or a countermeasure against a force, including an evil force.

I mention this because the owl is the subject of the two brief stories that follow here and the medicine of the owl is strong in many respects. The person named McWhorter who is mentioned with the stories is Lucullus V. McWhorter (1860 - 1944), a farmer, frontiersman, and Native American activist who chronicled the life of the Yakama in photographs as well as journals and took their side against mistreatment by the American government. He was adopted into the Yakama Nation and given the name Hemene Ka-Wan (Old Wolf). Here is the first legend.


The -Tah-tah-kle'-ah (Owl-Woman Monster)

Yakama Indian William Charley told this story to McWhorter about the Tah-tah kle' -ah (Owl-Woman-Monster) in 1918:

"Before the tribes lived peaceably in this country, before the last creation, there were certain people who ate Indians whenever they could get them. They preferred and hunted children, as better eating. These people, the Tah-tah kle' -ah, were taller and larger than the common human. They ate every bad thing known such as frogs, lizards, snakes, and other things that Indians do not eat. They talked the Indian language, and in that way might fool the Indians. There were five of them, all sisters. But at the last creation they came up only in California. Two were seen there. They were women, tall big, women, who lived in a cave."

"One time the Shastas (Shasta Indians) were digging roots and camped. They knew that the two Tah-tah kle' -ah were about, were in that place. The Indians were careful, but the Tah-tah kle'-ah caught one little boy, not to eat, but to raise up and live with them. The boy thought he would be killed, but he was not. The Tah-tah kle'-ah had him several days.

[One day], when they were out of sight, the boy hurried away. He ran fast, traveled over rough, wild places, and at last reached his own people.

After many years the two Tah-tah-kle'-ah were destroyed. None knew how, but perhaps by a higher power. Their cave home became red hot and blew out. The monster-women were never seen again, never more heard of, but they have always been talked about as the most dangerous beings on earth. 

One other of the five sisters was drowned. From her eye, all owls were created. The person or power that killed her said to her, 'From now on, your eye will be the only part of you to act. At night it will go to certain birds, the owls'."

A Yakama Indian named Tam-a-wash told McWhorter this Tah-tah-kle'-ah story in 1919:

"Owl [Sho-pow'-tan] was the man. He was a big chief who lived at Po-ye-koosen. He went up the Naches [river?] to hunt deer. Many men went with him. They hunted all one sun, and when evening came, Owl did not return to camp. The hunters called to each other, "Owl is not here! Owl is away! Owl is lost!"

"Tah-tah-kle'-ah, the evil old woman with her basket, heard that call in the twilight, "Owl is lost!" And she said to her four sisters, "We must go hunt Owl who is lost from his people. We will get him for ourselves".
"Owl knew that Tah-tah-kle'-ah was coming for him; so he went up to a hollow place in the Tic-te' ah. You can see the trail that he traveled up the face of the rock to the cave high up in the wall of Tic-te' ah. Grass is growing along the narrow trail. You can see it when you are out from the rock where it winds up the cliff." 

"Owl had killed a deer. He filled the tripe with the blood of the deer. He heard Tah-tah-kle'-ah coming, and he knew she would kill him. He knew, and he placed the blood filled tripe in front of him. Tah-tah-kle'-ah entered the mouth of the cave. She looked. It was dark, but she saw it, the strange thing lying there. She did not know. She was afraid. She called to Owl, "Take it away! I do not like it!"

"Owl said, "No! That is something powerful, step over it." Tah-tah-kle'-ah did as told, stepped her foot over the tripe. Owl was ready. He did not get up. He sat there; and when the Tah-tah-kle'-ah stepped, he punched the tripe with his stick. He punched it often and it went, "Kloup! kloup! kloup!"


"Tah-tah-kle'-ah was scared! She screamed, threw up her hands, and fell from the cliff. The wana [river] ran by the base of the cliff, deep and swift. Tah-tah-kle'-ah fell into the water and was killed."

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great Week. 

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