Wimawita A Legend of Crater Lake, Mark Brickell Kerr, 1896

Wimawita, a Legend of Crater Lake

By Mark Brickell Kerr



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Pacific Northwest (June, 1896). Crater Lake, by HL Wells. Pacific Unitarian (October, 1896). A trip to Crater …

WIMAWITA* was the pride of his family and tribe.**  He could kill the grizzly bear, and his prowess in the fight was renowned even among those fierce braves who controlled the entrance to the Lake of the Big Medicine, where the black obsidian arrowheads are found. But the chase no longer had pleasure for him, and he wandered far up the slopes of the Shasta, where the elk and deer abound, and they passed slowly by him, down into the heavy growth of murmuring pines, as if knowing that his mission was of peace. Above was the line of perpetual snow, where the tamarack was striving hard for existence in the barren rock. From this great height Wimawita gazed upon the lodges in the prairie, among the huge trees far below, and then suddenly descending, disappeared in the forest, advancing to the east, where springs the great, gushing sawul,* the source of the Wini-mim.**  There in a little hut dwelt old Winnishuya.*** “Tell me, O mother,” he cried, “what can I do to regain the love of Tculucul?**** She laughs at me, and the dog Tsileu***** wanders with her over the snowclad mountain.”

“‘Tis well; Tculucul still loves you, but since your brave deeds among the Klamaths, your thoughts are far away, and you long for further peril, to chant your great exploits in the councils of the brave. Tculucul has noticed your neglect and distaste for the exploits in which you formerly took pleasure. Why, 0 Wimawita, do you not seek for greater glory? Know you not of the great lake, far away and deep down in the mountain top. The way is long and difficult, and but few reach its rocky slopes. If you have the strength and courage to climb down and bathe in its crystal waters, you will acquire great and marvelous wisdom. Tculucul will look upon you with favor, and none will equal you among your people. The Lalos (children of the Great Spirit) guard the lake, and far in the past one of our own tribe reached it, but not propitiating the spirits, they killed him, and his body was sunk in the depths of the blue water.”

As she spoke the old woman’s strength increased. Wimawita, listening, caught her energy.

“‘Tis well, my mother; tomorrow, while all sleep, will I start upon this journey to the river where the Klamaths dwell. Then will I find the way to the wondrous lake and bathe in the deep water.”

While speaking, he noted not the parting of the brush, where Tculucul was concealed, and who in her fright almost betrayed her presence. Nor was Tsileu visible behind the granite rocks near by, eagerly watching and hearing all that happened.

At dawn the following day, when even the dogs were still, Wimawita stole quietly away. Close behind him, clad in the raiment of a young brave, followed Tculucul, and after a short interval, gliding stealthily in the tracks of the others, came Tsileu. Thus they marched for several long and weary days, over the prairies of Shasta and the dreary lava fields of Modoc, until Wimawita reached the great river of the Klamaths. Then Tculucul came forth and accosted him.