While the present-day, half-educated, half-civilized Washoes are by no means representatives of the highest elements of natural enlightenment among the Indian race, they do possess legends about Tahoe, the following being the most interesting.
All these stories, except the last, were gathered by Mrs. W.W. Price of Fallen Leaf Lodge, from Indians with whom she has been very familiar for several years, named Jackson and his wife Susan. There has been no attempt to dress them up in literary fashion. They are given as near to the Indians’ mode of telling as possible. They are wonderfully different from certain stories recently published in current magazines, professing to be Legends of Lake Tahoe. These latter are pure fiction, and to those familiar with Indian thought, reveal their origin in the imaginative brain of white writers who have but faint conceptions of Indian mentality. Mrs. Price is a graduate of Stanford University, and took great pains to preserve the Indians’ exact mode of expression. As she herself writes:
Long before the white man saw and wondered over the beauty of Tahoe, theorizing over its origin and concocting curious tales about its “unfathomable” depths, the Indians knew and loved it. And as among all other peoples, legends have grown up to account for every phenomenon of Nature, so among the Washoe Indians stories about Tahoe have been handed down from generation to generation.
I do not vouch for these legends. The modern Indian too often tells what he thinks you want to know,—if only you will cross his hand with silver. But there are touches here and there that make me feel that for the most part they are remnants of very old legends.
THE ORIGIN OF TAHOE, FALLEN LEAF, AND OTHER LAKES
Long, long ago, before the white man came to Nevada, there lived in the meadow over beyond Glenbrook a good Indian. But though he was good, he was much annoyed by the Evil Spirit, who constantly interfered with all that he tried to do. Finally, he determined that he must move away and get over into the valleys of California. But when he tried to escape, the Evil One was always there ready to trip him in some way or other.
In his trouble the Good Spirit came to his aid, giving him a leafy branch which had