Bridal Veil Fall


"Bridal Veil Fall's plume of mist seems to drop out of a lost world. The 620-foot cataract . . . wears a triple crown: Cathedral Rocks." The base of the fall is surrounded by trees and shrubs.

"The vast ravine of Yo Semitee, formed by tearing apart the solid Sierras, is graced by many waterfalls raining down the mile-high cliffs." The Indians used to tell this legend about the one called Bridal Veil Fall.

Hundreds of years ago, in the shelter of this valley, lived Tu- tok-a-nu-la and his tribe. He was a wise chief, trusted and loved by his people, always setting a good example by saving crops and game for winter.

While he was hunting one day, he saw the lovely guardian spirit of the valley for the first time. His people called her Ti-sa-yak. He thought her beautiful beyond his imagination. Her skin was white, her hair was golden, and her eyes were like heaven. Her voice, as sweet as the song of a thrush, led him to her. But when he stretched his arms toward her, she rose, lighter than a bird, and soon vanished in the sky.

From that moment, the Chief knew no peace, and he no longer cared for the well-being of his people.

Without his directions, Yo Semite became a desert. When Ti-sa-yac came again, after a long time, she wept because bushes were growing where corn had grown before, and bears rooted where the huts had been. On a mighty dome of rock, she knelt and prayed to the Great Spirit Above, asking him to restore its virtue to the land.

He granted her plea. Stooping from the sky, the Great Spirit Above spread new life of green on all the valley floor. And smiting the mountains, he broke a channel for the pent-up snow that soon melted. The water ran and leaped far down, pooling in a lake below and flowing off to gladden other land.

The birds returned with their songs, the flowering plants returned with their blossoms, and the corn soon swayed in the breeze. When the Yo Semitee people came back to their valley,they gave the name of Ti-sa-yac to what is now called South Dome. That is where she had knelt.

Then the Chief came home again. When he heard what the beautiful spirit maiden had done, his love for her became stronger than ever. Climbing to the crest of a rock that rises three thousand feet above the valley, he carved his likeness there with his hunting knife. He wanted his tribe to remember him after he departed from the earth.

Tired from his work, he sat at the foot of Bridal Veil Fall. Suddenly he saw a rainbow arching over the figure of Ti-sa-yac, who was shining from the water. She smiled at him and beckoned to him. With a cry of joy, he sprang into the waterfall and disappeared with his beloved.

The rainbow quivered on the falling water, and the sun went down.


Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker




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