Mt. Shasta and JC Brown’s Lost City

Mt. Shasta | ©2014 H a v e n

Mt. Shasta | ©2014 H a v e n

According to legend, JC Brown was a British prospector who discovered a lost underground city beneath Mt. Shasta in 1904. Brown had been hired by The Lord Cowdray Mining Company of England to prospect for gold, and discovered a cave which sloped downward for 11 miles. In the cave, he found an underground village filled with gold, shields, and mummies, some being up to 10 feet tall.

Thirty years later, he told his story to John C. Root who proceeded to gather an exploration team in Stockton, California. 80 people joined the team, but on the day the team was to set out, Brown did not show up. Brown was not heard from again.

Keeper of the Fire

Long ago, when the world was young, all people were happy, The Great Spirit, whose home is in the sun, gave them all they needed. No one was Hungry, no one

'Keeper of Fire' | © 2015 H a v e n

‘Keeper of Fire’ | © 2015 H a v e n

was cold. But after a while, two brothers quarreled over the land. The elder one wanted most of it, and the younger one wanted most of it. The Great Spirit decided to stop the quarrel. One night while the brothers were asleep he took them to a new land, to a country with high mountains. Between the mountains flowed a big river.

The Great Spirit took the two brothers to the top of the high mountains and wakened them. They saw that the new country was rich and beautiful.

“Each of you will shoot a arrow in opposite directions,” he said to them. “Then you will follow your arrow. Where your arrow falls, that will be your country. There you will become a great chief. The river will separate your lands.”

One brother shot his arrow south into the valley of the Willamette River. He became the father and the high chief of the Multnomah people. The other brother shot his arrow north into the Klickitat country. He became the father and high chief of the Klickitat people.

Then the Great Spirit built a bridge over the big river. To each brother he said, “I have built a bridge over the river, so that you and your people may visit those on the other side. It will be a sign of peace between you. As long as you and your people are good and are friendly with each other, this bridge of the Tahmahnawis will remain.

Building of the the modern day Bridge of the Gods, ca. 1925

Building of the the modern day Bridge of the Gods, ca. 1925

It was a broad bridge, wide enough for many people and many ponies to walk across at one time. For many snows the people were at peace and crossed the river for friendly visits. But after a time they did wicked things. They were selfish and greedy, and they quarreled. The Great Spirit, displeased again, punished them by keeping the sun from shining. The people had no fire, and then the winter rains came, they were very cold.

Then they began to be sorry for what they had done, and they begged the Great Spirit for fire. “Give us fire, or we will die from the cold,” they prayed. The heart of the Great Spirit was softened by their prayer. He went to an old woman who had kept herself from the wrongdoing of her people and so still had some fire in their lodge.

“If you will share your fire, I will Grant you anything you wish,” the Great Spirit promised her. “What do you want most?”

"Eternal" | ©2015 H a v e n

“Eternal” | ©2015 H a v e n

“Youth and beauty,” answered the old woman promptly, “I wish to be young again, and to be beautiful.”

“You shall be young and beautiful tomorrow morning,” promised the Great Spirit. “Take your fire to the bridge, so that the people on both sides of the river can get it easily. Keep it burning there always as a reminder of the goodness and kindness of the Great Spirit.”

The old woman, whose name was Loo-wit, did as he said. Then the Great Spirit commanded the sun to shine again. When it rose the next morning, it was surprised to see a young and beautiful maiden sitting beside a fire on the Bridge of the Gods. The people, too, saw the fire, and soon their lodges were warm again. For many moons all was peaceful on both sides of the great river and the bridge.

The young men also saw the fire–and the beautiful young woman who attended it. They visited her often. Loo-wit’s heart was stirred by two of them–a handsome young chief from south of the river, whose name was Wyeast, and a handsome young chief from north of the river, whose name was Klickitat. She could not decide which of the two she liked better.

Wyeast and Klickitat grew jealous of each other and soon began to quarrel. They became so angry that they fought. Their people also took up the quarrel, so that there was much fighting on both sides of the river. Many warriors were killed.

The Dalles, Oregon. ca. 1884

The Dalles, Oregon. ca. 1884

This time the Great Spirit was made angry by the wickedness of the people. He broke down the Bridge of the Gods, the sign of peace between the two tribes, and its rocks fell into the river. He changed the two chiefs into mountains. Some say that they continued to quarrel over Loo-wit even after they were mountain peaks. They caused sheets of flame to burst forth, and they hurled hot rocks at each other. Not thrown far enough, many fell into the river
and blocked it. That is why the Columbia is very narrow and the water very swift at the Dalles.

Pre-dammed Cascades. 1912(?) author unknown.

Pre-dammed Cascades. 1912(?) author unknown.

Loo-wit was changed into a snow-capped peak which still has the youth and beauty promised by the Great Spirit. She is now called Mount St. Helens. Wyeast is known as Mount Hood, and Klickitat as Mount Adams. The rocks and white water where the Bridge of the Gods fell are known as the Cascades of the Columbia.

——-Clark,Ella (1953) Indians of the Pacific Northwest (renewed 1981). The Regents of the University of California

Volcanoes in Cascadian Myth

Warring gods, black snow and deities represented by mountains are central

Wy'east | © 2015 H a v e n

Wy’east | © 2015 H a v e n

features of native folklore focusing on volcanoes in the Cascade Range.

To the Yakama, Klickitat, Cowlitz, Multnomah, Puyallup, Nisqually and other Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, peaks like Mt. St. Helens embodied supernatural and spiritual forces…”

Read more here

Soon we will be Ghosts.

“…. They didn’t sign away their rainy Eden or sell it, die in warfare, or move

Columbia River Gorge - view of Robin's Island, Hamilton Mt. (left), Aldrich Butte (center), Table Mountain (right). (source: Oregon State Archives)

Columbia River Gorge – view of Robin’s Island, Hamilton Mt. (left), Aldrich Butte (center), Table Mountain (right). (source: Oregon State Archives)

to reservations, not until twenty-five years after the catastrophes that swept most of them away. It wasn’t smallpox that laid them low. Suddenly most of them were simply gone. The Wapato Lowlands in particular were empty and silent. Did God call them home? The few survivors walked away dazed. Took to speaking other languages. Were replaced by strangers. After a few decades hardly anyone remembered that they had ever been there.”

Read more of “She Who Watches — Tsagaglalal By Rick Rubin” here

Poem: “A Single Tear: for Tsagaglalal

The naming story of Lost Lake.

“In August of 1873, a party of men from The Dalles made a horseback trip around Mount Hood with John Divers of Hood River as their guide. Wyeast on lost lake They knew the body of water as ‘Big Lake,’ and reached it by following Lake Branch of the Hood River to its source. Arriving at the lake during a typical Lost Lake rainstorm they proceeded to build lean-to shelters by stripping cedar bark from the great trees. On their third night at the lake, while lingering over an evening meal of trout, one of the Diver’s boys said: I wonder if that stuff on those trees would burn?’ and without thinking touched a long strand of dry moss with a red-hot stick he had just used to light his pipe. The moss burst into flame and quickly spread to other trees. They left without stopping to gather their camping gear. Wind swept the fire south and up what was later to become known as Huckleberry Mountain. The purple berries appeared in great number a few years after the fire.

The story remained a family secret for many years and Lost Lake remained ‘lost’ until its official discovery in 1880 by a group of 11 men from Hood River. Leaving town on August 18th they traveled south to the present site of Dee where they experienced their first adventure. In order to reach the west side of the river they had to fell a large tree and then crawl across to the other side. Their animals were hauled across the river with ropes. Reaching the upper West Fork of the Hood River they found the area completely burned over from a forest fire the year. The soft ash quickly filled their shoes and made travel difficult, but they did eventually reach a point high in the hills where, according to their calculations, the lake should have been. It was not there. One of the party said: We must be lost.’ ‘Oh, no,’ replied Smith, a competent surveyor, ‘we know exactly where we are. It’s like the Indian who said he wasn’t lost-his wig-warn was.’ Continuing southward the men finally reached the take and christened it Lost Lake as a result of Mr. Smith’s remark.”

source:  http://reed.edu/csail/Lost_Lake.pdf

The First Railroad in the Columbia River Basin

The first railroad in the Columbia River Basin was built along the river in 1851. Little more than a cart on rails, it was a portage tramway on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge around The Cascades rapids.

Portage Railroad Track on left. Just below the Cascade rapids. c. 1867

Portage Railroad Track on left. Just below the Cascade rapids. c. 1867

With a mule and one cart, Hardin Chenoweth moved freight and passengers around the rapids for a fee of 75 cents per 100 pounds. In 1894, the little railroad was damaged by flooding and sold to a cannery, which used it to haul salmon from its fish wheels to its production building.

Why did my Chinook Ancestors flatten their heads?

George Catlin. 1850

George Catlin. 1850

The picture is from about 1850 and is a pencil drawing of a scene at The Dalles, on the Columbia River by George Catlin. It clearly depicts the flat heads my tribe gave their children at birth by use of a set cradle board over the forehead during the first few months of life. Learn more here.

I am very interested in why we did this? Were there any old stories that were told that explained why we started flattening our foreheads? How did we come to accept and implement such a custom, that seems so foreign to our modern standards of beauty?

Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Wind Mountain, Columbia River."

Penny Postcard, ca.1910, “Wind Mountain, Columbia River.”

What role did the landscape we live in play in this custom? I have always noticed a similarity between the contours of Wind Mountain and the profile of the flattened head, is this just coincidence? So many questions… so go’s the seeking.

The Journey has just Begun.

For the last several months I have been deeply steeped in book and print research, but this is not where my passion lies. I wish to be out and about with my recording gear, searching and digging for more knowledge and just sitting with the sound of the rivers and winds. It really is gathering many stories to piece together one story. The very question that started this whole journey was: “Who were my Ancestors?’ and from that one question, come many tributaries. And still my thirst grows.

Auntie Virginia Miller's Canoe. Edward S. Curtis photo

Auntie Virginia Miller’s Canoe. Edward S. Curtis photo

I am about to fully step into the initial aims of this project of documenting what is left of our Stories, meaning, more living persons oral histories. Some of my Watala/Cascade cousins are looking at dis-enrollment from the Grand Ronde tribe (read more here) and fighting for what it means to be ‘Indigenous’. The honest truth is, we are becoming ghosts and I wish to honor a memory, fully and honestly. I want to know what our traditions were. I want to know why Wind Mountain was so Sacred to us and I want it to become sacred again, before we are all gone. I want to know how the landscape shaped our myth and our traditions. Why did we flatten our foreheads? I don’t want to be co-opted into the generalization of the ‘plains noble Indian’, for we were our own People and we are our own People.

BUT….yet, I am the Immigrant carrying goods upriver and I am the hands that would build the dam that would silence it forever. I am of many stories. And giving the way the modern world is swallowing our sense of belonging to place, we too, and our stories, are becoming ghosts.

The journey has just begun.

Identity and Tradition: A Changing Story

Celilo Falls, post card. ca. 1930

Celilo Falls, post card. ca. 1930


‘I seem to have shown up at a strange and vulnerable time… a time of the in-medias-res or the in-between. My memory has been altered by many things and, at times, I feel like I am suffering from a incurable cultural amnesia, similar to putting a jigsaw together with no image. Image is there, but it is not my own.. it is from the bias of others, for my ancestors knew little of the industrial revolution until one day, they were violently thrown into the orgy. Yes, it has been tragic, and yes, it has been human.. but, it has allowed a different kind of breathing, or at least that is what I have to work with.’

- A paragraph from the book that I am writing.

I am of Many Stories.

Sometimes when I look at these pictures, I can hear the wind blowing the sweet smell of Spring rains up through the Gorge. I am Indigenous to this very spot, the Cascades on the Columbia, yet, I am the immigrant carrying goods upriver and I am the hands that would build the dam that would silence it forever. I am of many stories.
Columbia_River_below_the_Cascades_showing_sternwheeler,_ca_1901

Photo: Columbia River below the Cascades, looking west (downriver) showing sternwheeler, probably the Bailey Gatzert. c. 1901