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cah

Si-Te-Cah

According to Paiute oral history, the Si-Te-Cah are a legendary race whose mummified remains were discovered (under 4 feet of guano) by guano farmers in what is now known as “Lovelock Cave” in Lovelock, Nevada. Although the cave had been mined since 1911, it was not until 1924 when miners notified authorities. An archeological excavation ensued producing 10,000 artifacts. "Si-Te-Cah" literally means “tule-eaters” in the language of the Paiute Indians. Tule is a fibruous water plant. In order to escape harassment from the Paiutes, the Si-Te-Cahs lived on rafts made of tule on the lake.

According to the Paiutes, the Si-Te-Cah were a hostile and warlike race who practiced cannibalism. The Si-Te-Cah and the Paiutes were at war, and after a long struggle a coalition of tribes trapped the remaining Si-Te-Cah in Lovelock Cave. When they refused to come out, the Indians piled brush before the cave mouth and set it aflame. The Si-Te-Cah were annihilated.

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of Paiute Chief Winnemucca, related many stories about the Si-Te-Cah in her book Life Among the Paiutes. "My people say that the tribe we exterminated had reddish hair. I have some of their hair, which has been handed down from father to son. I have a dress which has been in our family a great many years, trimmed with the reddish hair. I am going to wear it some time when I lecture. It is called a mourning dress, and no one has such a dress but my family." (Hopkins, page 75). Neither she nor the legends mention giants.

Adrienne Mayor writes about the Si-Te-Cah in her book Fossil Legends of the First Americans . She suggests that the 'giant' interpretation of the skeletons from Lovelock Cave and other dry caves in Nevada was started by entrpreneurs setting up tourist displays and that the skeletons themselves were of normal size. However, about a hundred miles north of Lovelock there are plentiful fossils of mammoths and cave bears, and their large limb bones could easily be thought to be those of giants by an untrained observer. She also discusses the reddish hair, pointing out that hair pigment is not stable after death and that various factors such as temperature, soil, etc can turn ancient very dark hair rusty red or orange.

References

  • Life Among the Paiutes, by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins.

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