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The Legend of Tu-tok-a-nu-la and Tis-sa-ack



Unnumbered snows have come and gone since The Great Spirit led a band of his favorite children into the mountains, and bade then rest in this beautiful Valley of Ah-wah-nee. They were weary and footsore, and were glad to rest after their long journey. Here they found food in abundance. The streams held swarms of fish, meadows were knee-deep in sweet clover, great herds of deer roamed the forests in the Valley, and on the high mountains, oak trees were bending under the weight of their acorns, grass seeds and wild fruits and berries grew in bountiful profusion. Here they stayed and built their villages. They were happy, and multiplied, and prospered and became a great nation.

El Capitan also known as Tu-tok-a-nu-la To their chief came a little son to gladden his heart. They wanted this son to become a great chief, capable of the leadership of a great people. He was made to sleep in the robes of the skins of the beaver and the coyote, that he might grow wise in building and keen of scent. As he grew older he was fed the meat of the fish, that he might become a good swimmer, and the flesh of the deer, that he might be light and swift of foot. He was made to eat the eggs of the great crane, that he might be keen of sight. He was wrapped in the skin of the monarch of the forest, the grizzly bear, that he might grow up fearless and strong in combat.

And, when he grew to manhood, he was a great chief and beloved of all the people. His people prepared for him a lofty throne on the crown of the great rock which guards the gateway of the Valley, and he was called Tu-tok-a-nu-la, after the great cranes that lived in the meadow near the top. The people of Ah-wah-nee were happy, for Tu-tok-a-nula was a wise and a good ruler. From his high rocky throne he kept watch over the Valley and the people he loved. He called on the Great Spirit who sent timely rains, so that the acorns grew in abundance, the hunters returned from the forests with game, and the fishermen from the streams with fish. There was peace and plenty throughout the Valley of Ah-wah-nee, and when Tu-tok-a-nu-la held speech with his people from his high throne his voice was deep and strong like the deep sound of a waterfall.

One day as Tu-tok-a-nu-la sat gazing into the glowing colors of the west, he saw approaching his valley a strange people, led by a maiden of wondrous loveliness. He called to them and the maiden answered him, saying "It is I, Tis-sa-ack. We have come from the land of my people in the far south to visit with you. We have heard of the great and good chief, Tu-tok-a-nu-la, of his great people and his wonderful valley. We bring presents of baskets and beads and skins. After we have rested we will return to my people in the far south."

Tu-tok-a-nu-la welcomed the fair visitor from the land to the south and had prepared for her and her people a home on the summit of the great dome at the eastern end of the Valley. There she stayed and taught the women of the Ah-wah-nee the arts of her people. Tu-tok-a-nu-la visited her often in her mountain home. He was charmed by her wonderful beauty and sweetness, and begged her to stay and become his wife, but she denied him, saying : "No, I must soon return with my people to their home in the far south." And, when Tu-tok-anu-la grew importunate in his wooing, she left her home in the night and was never seen again.

When the great chief knew that she was gone, a terrible loneliness and sorrow came to him, and he wandered away through the forests in search of her, forgetting his people in Ah-wah-nee. So strong was his love for her, and so deep his sorrow, that he forgot to call upon the Great Spirit to send the timely rains. So great was his neglect that the streams grew smaller and smaller and finally became dry. The crops failed. The hunters came back from the forests without meat, and the fishermen returned from the streams empty-handed. The leaves and the green acorns fell form the trees, and the bright flowers and green grasses became dry and brown.

The Great Spirit became very angry with Tu-tok-a-nu-la. The earth trembled with his wrath so that the rocks fell down into the Valley from the surrounding cliffs. The sky and the mountains belched forth smoke and flame. The great dome that had been the home of Tis-sa-ack was rent asunder and half of it fell into the Valley. The melting snows from the high mountains cme down into the Valley in a flood and drowned hundreds of people. But the wrath of the Great spirit was quickly spent, and the heavens grew quiet. The floods receded, the sub shone, and once more peace and calm reigned over the Ah-wah-nee. The life-giving moisture from the renewed streams crept into the parched soil. The oak trees put on new leaves and acorns. The grasses again became fresh and green, the flowers lifted their drooping heads and took on their old gay colors. The fish came back to the streams, and the game to the forest.

And, when the Valley was once again clothed in beauty and plenty, there appeared on the rent face of the dome which had been her home, the beautiful face of Tis-sa-ack, where it can still be seen to this day. And the dome was named Tis-sa-ack, in memory of the fair visitor who had been loved by all the people of the Ah-wah-nee. At the same time, that all might hold his memory in their hearts, there appeared on the face of the great rock supporting his throne, the majestic figure of the great chief, dressed in a flowing robe and pointing a finger to where he had gone, to El-o-win, the happy land beyond the setting sun.