Native POMO Legends of Blue Lakes on Highway 20, Northern Ca

Native POMO Legends of Blue Lakes on Highway 20, Northern CaBlue Lakes

Original Account as Recorded in –

The Ethno-geography of the Pomo and Neighboring Indians (1908)

Author: Samuel Alfred Barrett
Publisher: The University Press
Year: 1908

Blue lakes above mentioned are three small, but very deep, lakes situated in a narrow steep-walled canyon extending northwestward from the main canyon of Scott’s creek, and draining into that stream. The lowest of the three lakes is called by the whites Wambold’s lake, and the upper two, which are connected by a comparatively broad channel, have received the name Twin lakes. The Indians, however, name each separately, as follows: Wambold’s lake is called xa’-siliQ or xala’-xatu, clam lake; the lower of the Twin lakes is called dile’-xa, middle water, and the upper has received the name xa’-cinal, water (lake) head, which is a term applied with equal propriety to the head of any lake, as Upper lake, which is regarded as the head of Clear lake. The canyon in which Blue lakes are situated is not spacious enough to have accommodated a very large population, but the abundance of fish and water birds in and about these lakes would naturally have attracted at least some Indians had it not been for the fear of a fabulous monster which inhabited them.

Pomo Village House

Several myths are told about these lakes and their much dreaded monster. A summary of one of these follows: There was once a village near the junction of the outlet of Blue lakes with Scott’s creek, Blue lakes being then only a spring. At this village lived a virgin who busied herself making a large and extraordinarily elaborate burden basket, but who kept her labor secret from all except her brother, who lived in an adjoining house. He assisted her by procuring quail plumes and woodpecker scalps, and by making shell beads to be used on the basket. When the basket was yet far from completion a male child was born to the virgin. She secretly hid him away, but her brother heard him cry, for he kept crying constantly, and finally came with bow and arrows to kill him, believing that he was not a human being. The brother finally found the child, whose name is given as Tsada’t, but before he could destroy him, Tsada’t spoke up and told him that he was not a human being and must not be killed. He then instructed the brother and sister to place him in the spring, first putting a red feathered basket on his head, a net about his body, a bead belt about his waist, strings of beads about his neck, and a feather beltabout his head. Having done as Tsada’t had directed, they were then told to return on the following day with the unfinished basket, some arrows and other articles, which were also to be placed in the water. Before dismissing them, however, Tsada’t gave the brother a medicine song which would preserve them from destruction when visiting the spring, and told them that they must upon no condition look back when leaving the spring. Upon returning the next morning they found that the spring had enlarged and covered a considerable area. Tsada’t had grown to be a huge monster, called Bagi’l, and lay always in the shallow water in plain view. The brother and sister followed the instructions given them and placed the basket and four arrows in the lakes. Madu’mda, the chief deity, came by the lakes next morning and told Bagi’l that to lie there in sight of passers-by would be unsafe for human beings, and then gave him songs which should serve to enlarge the lakes, saying that he must enlarge the lakes and then build a comfortable abode for himself back among the roots by the shore, and thus keep out of sight. Accordingly Bagi’l sang the songs and the water rose till it nearly reached the summit of the ridge on the north at the head of the canyon; but Madu’mda again appeared and this time stopped Bagi’l from increasing the water further. Bagi’l then sang and deepened the lakes, made them very deep, and the water settled to its present level. People were then instructed never to go near the lakes and never to eat any fish or game from them. Thereafter when it became necessary to pass near these lakes the Indians avoided looking toward the lakes for fear that either the basket or Bagi’l might rise to the surface of the water and thus cause serious illness. The same practice is followed by the older people at present. Notwithstanding the presence of this monster and the dread of the vicinity, it is considered to be a most excellent medicine (charm) if a person is able to swim across one of these lakes, which is a possible feat provided he knows the proper songs. Should he fail, however, death is the certain result.

In connection with this Indian account it is interesting to note the recent finding by Professor R. S. Holway (Science n. s. XXVI, 382, 1907) of a former connection of the waters of Blue lakes and Scott’s creek with those of Russian river. According to Professor Holway these waters formerly drained into Russian river by way of Cold creek but were in comparatively recent prehistoric time diverted to the Clear lake drainage by a landslide which formed the ridge mentioned in the myth and which now sits about one hundred and sixty feet above the level of the lakes themselves.

Blue Lakes Ca
Blue Lakes Ca

Blue Lakes

Serene surroundings and a popular spot for kayaks, canoes, patio boats, and even the occasional windsurfer.

In northwestern Lake County, the quaint recreational community of Blue Lakes dots the shores of two small, peaceful lakes known simply as Upper Blue Lake and Lower Blue Lake. The lakes are bordered by State Highway 20 to the north and densely forested hillsides to the south. Just a ten minute drive from the town of Upper Lake and 15 minutes from Lakeport, the County Seat, this spot is a favorite getaway for local residents and out-of-town vacationers alike.

~ by NorCalNews on September 1, 2011.

3 Responses to “Native POMO Legends of Blue Lakes on Highway 20, Northern Ca”

  1. I would appreciate a photo credit on the photo with the green trees and purple Lupin in the foreground. Ron Keas

  2. Thank you , for sharing your cultural stories.

  3. Reblogged this on Ganja Farmer's, EMERALD TRIANGLE NEWS ~Marijuana News, Roots and Culture~.

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