The Rock —- TAHQUITZ! Many stories, tales and legends are told about this this rock. Tonight I share with you the true story of Tahquitz.
Many years ago, the Soboba Indians lived in this valley, and called our camp their home. The Soboba’s lived in peace and were prosperous. They had no enimies (sic), and did not want for foot and shelter. All of this was due largely to the wise leadership of their great chief——-Tahquitz! Tahquitz was a good chief. He led his people with wisdom, strength, and courage. As the years passed, Tahquitz grew old and feeble. At first his ailments were only physical, but as time went by, Tahquitz’s mind began to slip. He soon began playing pranks on members of the tribe. After some time, the elders of the tribe decided that Tahquitz must be banned from the tribe. The once great chief was sent onto that mountain—–there—–Tahquitz peak!
The problem now was the question of who should assume the leadership of the tribe. The elders of the tribe met in an attempt to choose the right leader. Their decision was rather simple as most agreed that it was only fitting that the son of Tahquitz assume his father’s role. Owlgoot was, therefore, named as the new chief.
Because of past experiences, Owlgoot’s first act as chief was to order the trible to move further down the mountain. The tribe moved, and soon things returned to normal. As time passed, the tribe again prospered. But it was not to last.
Periodically, the squaws would be out gathering berries, and a Steller’s Jay would scare them in such a way that all the berries would be spilled and ruined. Hunters would be taking aim, and at the last second a wisp of wind would blow and either scare the deer or cause the arrow to stray off its course. Great despair haunted the tribe. In his heart, Owl-goot knew this to be the work of Tahquitz. Once again he ordered the tribe to move. They moved into the desert valleys below and started a whole new way of life. Owlgoot decreed that none should return to the sights of the former villages.
As time passed the curse of Tahquitz was forgotten, save for tales told round evening fires. The older members of the tribe remebered (sic) with grave fear the evil work of Tahquitz, but the young merely laughed. It was an interesting story, but who really believed that a once great chief turned wicked due to an evil spirit. Two of the biggest doubters were the sons of Owlgoot. They scoffed and determined that they would defy their father’s decree and this silliness once and for all.
One fateful day, they made their way up the mountain through the sites of the old villages. They climbed the peak bearing the name of their grandfather. They reached the cave where it was said that the spirit Tahquitz dwelled. They yelled and taunted. Soon the skies darkened and the ground trembled. Out of the cave appeared the form of a huge giant. He looked down and laughed a mighty roar. The mountains shook. What followed took only a matter of seconds. Tahquitzs (sic) grabbed one of the boys and tore him to shreads. As the other boy ran for his life, Tahquitz caught his arm and pulled it from his body.
Bleeding badly, the boy crawled back to the village site. In his dying breaths he related to his father what had happened. Owlgoot greived (sic) the death of his two sons for many days, but finally he appeared from his mourning. He called a council of the entire tribe. Owlgoot decreed that Tahquitz had gone too far. He decided that he would do battle with the might chief. The elders pleaded with him to change his mind, but it was no use. The decision had been made. Owlgoot knew that he would have to train for his battle with Tahquitz. He felt that he would have to be strong, and so set out to wrestle with the mightiest animal in the forest–the bear. First he wrestled with the smallest of the cubs, later the strongest bears until at last he could out wrestle the mightiest Grizzly of the wood. This took him three years.
Owlgoot knew that being strong was not enough, he must also have great speed. He began to run with the swiftest animal of the forest–the deer. At first he would race the young fawns, the the does, and at last he would run circles around the fastest stag of the mountain. This too took three years. Owlgoot now had strength and speed, but he knew it was not enough. He must have great stamina. He felt that he must be able to be in constant motion for long periods of time, and he decided to he must swim with the swiftest and strongest fishes (sic). He began with the little hatchlings, then the fingerlings, and finally after three years he was able to out swim the strongest and swiftest trout on the hill.
Owlgoot felt that his body was now fit to do battle with Tahquitz, but he knew that he must prepare his mind for the upcoming ordeal. For one more year he sought to turn his thoughts inward and prepare for Tahquitz. After a total of ten years Owlgoot returned to the village where he was not immediately recognized–everyone felt that he was larger than before. There seemed to be a special look on his face. Owlgoot told his tribe that he was now going to find and destroy Tahquitz; he warned them not to follow. He then turned and made his way up the hill.
Owlgoot arrived at the cave where Tahquitz had earlier destroyed his own grandsons. TAHQUITZ, TAHQUITZ YOU OLD WOMAN CHASER! COME OUT AND BATTLE WITH A REAL MAN!! Tahquitz looked down to Owlgoot and laughed. He picked up a huge boulder and hurled it at Owlgoot. Owlgoot quickly side-stepped it. Tahquitz seemed shocked, and threw another huge rock at his son. This time Owlgoot caught it and hurled it back. The rock fight that followed cluttered the peak with rocks that can be seen to this day. Tahquitz grew tired and changed his form into a mighty Grizzly and rambled down the mountain after Owlgoot. Owlgoot met him head on and the two wrestled for many hours. Again Tahquitz grew weary, and changed into a might buch (sic) and ran off through the wood. Owlgoot began taunting him and running beside him. C’MON YOU ALD (sic) WOMAN–RUN! RUN!! Tahquitz began charging at Owlgoot, but Owlgoot was too fast and began running circles around the animal. Tahquitz tired, and as the duo passed a large lake, Tahquitz leaped in and changed into a mighty serpant. Owlgoot followed and again the two locked in furious battle. As they thrashed in the water, neither noticed that the serpants huge tail had slashed a huge gash in one end of the end of the lake. The battled ended soon after this. Without water the serpant was powerless, and Tahquitz was too tired too (sic) change forms. Owlgoot was exhausted and of (sic) the verge of death.
The tribe had disobeyed Owlgoot’s command, and had followed him up the mountain. They now took the body of their ailing chief to the site of the original village. There Owlgoot told them to burn the serpant with only the driest of manzanita, lest the evil spirit of Tahquitz escape in the smoke. The tribe did as they were instructed, except on old, blind squaw accidently (sic) dropped a piece of green wood in the fire. Tahquitz escaped and found the body of Owlgoot. He began taunting him, without mercy. After a long period of time, Owlgoot could stand it no longer; he reached up and threw Tahquitz into that rock where his evil spirit rests today!
This version was typewritten in the Camp Emerson Staff Book and used by Chris Warack in the 1980 – 1981 summer camp seasons.
Editor’s Note: This story is chronicled for historical purposes and does contain instanced of cultural appropriation that may not be considered appropriate by some modern audiences.