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Lights and Shadows of Yosemite (1926) by Katherine Ames Taylor


The Legend of Hum-mo—The Lost Arrow

[Editor’s note: this “legend” “is almost certainly fictitious” according to NPS Ethnologist Craig D. Bates. It was first printed in Hutchings In the Heart of the Sierras (1888) —dea.]

Little to the left of the upper Yosemite Falls, standing alone from the edge of the cliff, is a great shaft of granite rock, which is explained, mythically, in the following way: It was the day of the marriage of Tee-hee-nay, fairest of Ah-wah-nee maidens, to Kos-soo-kah, bravest of the warriors.

But before Tee-hee-nay should go with Kos-soo-kah to his lodge, there must be a great feast, and all day long Ah-wah-nee was astir with preparations.

Early in the morning Kos-soo-kah gathered about him the strongest of his young braves, to go forth with him on the hunt for the marriage feast. He parted from his bride with the promise that, at the end of the day’s hunt, he should drop an arrow from the cliff between Yosemite Falls and the canyon of the arrow-wood. By the number of feathers it bore Tee-hee-nay should tell what the kill had been.

The day sped quickly while Tee-hee-nay and her women gathered acorns and young grasses, and when the long shadows stretched across the meadows she made her way, with a light heart, to the foot of Yosemite Falls to receive the message from Kos-soo-kah.

The shadows deepened to night, but still Tee-hee-nay received no sign from her lover. Becoming fearful, she climbed the cliff to meet him, and there, at the top, she saw fresh footprints in the moist earth, which led over the cliff—but failed to return!

Slowly she crept to the edge of the rock, and, leaning far over, she saw on a mound of fallen rock the motionless body of Kos-soo-kah, spent bow in hand. She knew then, that as he had drawn his bow to speed his love-message to her, the ground beneath his feet had given way, carrying him with the fatal avalanche.

By means of a signal fire she brought to her the old men from the valley, and the young warriors from the woods, bearing on their backs Kos-soo-kah’s kill for the wedding feast. Slowly she was lowered over the cliff to his side, and, as she whispered “Kos-soo-kah” in his ear, she knew his spirit had fled.

As they were both raised to the cliff above, there, beneath the of grace and energy, from the crest to the river below

Yosemite Falls, viewed from across the Merced River, 2,565 feet. PHOTO BY A. C. PILLSBURY
PHOTO BY A. C. PILLSBURY
[click to enlarge]
Yosemite Falls, viewed from across the Merced River, 2,565 feet
stars of her wedding night, she fell quietly forward upon his breast, and the spirit of Tee-hee-nay followed that of Kos-soo-kah’s.

The arrow has never been found. Some say the lovers took it with them, leaving in its stead the granite shaft to the left of Yosemite Falls, in token of Kos-soo-kah’s fulfilled pledge. And this rock is known to the children of Ah-wah-nee as Hum-mo, or the Lost Arrow.

A camp on the shores of Lake Tenaya, 8,146 feet above sea level. PHOTO BY F. J. TAYLOR
PHOTO BY F. J. TAYLOR
[click to enlarge]
A camp on the shores of Lake Tenaya, 8,146 feet above sea level


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