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Indigenous Stories

Bridal Veil Falls

Categories : Miwok , Miwok Stories

Hundreds of years ago, in the shelter of the Yosemite valley, lived Tu-tok-a-nula and his tribe. He was a wise Chief, trusted and loved by his people, always setting the right example by preserving crops and game for the 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-yac. Tu-tok-a-nula felt she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her skin was like milk, her hair was golden as the afternoon sun, and her eyes were bluer than the sky. Her voice, as sweet as the song of the thrush, drew him toward her. But as he reached out to her she rose up toward the heavens and vanished.

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

Without his guidance, Yosemite became like a desert. When Ti-sa-yac came again after a long time, she broke into tears. Bushes were growing where corn had once flourished, and bears foraged where the huts had been. On a mighty dome of rock, she knelt and prayed to the Great Spirit above, asking him to restore virtue to the land.

The Great Spirit granted her pleas. Stooping from the sky, he spread new life of green on the valley floor. He struck a thunderous blow against the mountains and broke a pathway for all the melting snow to flow. The water ran and danced downward, collecting in a lake below and flowing off to gladden other land.

The birds returned with their songs, the flowering plants began to blossom once more, and corn soon grew tall. When the Yosemite people returned to their valley, they gave the name of Ti-sa-yac to what is now called South Dome, where the guardian spirit had knelt and prayed.

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 top of a rock that rose thousands of feet below the valley, he carved his likeness into the stone with his hunting knife. He wanted his tribe to remember him after he departed from the earth.

Tired from his work, the Chief 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 and beckoned to him. With a cry of joy, Tu-tok-a-nula leapt into the waterfall and disappeared with his beloved.

The rainbow quivered on the cascading water, and the sun set.

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