October 21, 2008

The source for Chief Kaheleha

After I Googled Quileute and Kaheleha--the ancestral hero in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight legends--I did this search:

"kaheleha -twilight -meyer"

Result: 46 hits, but most of them duplicates. Only 14 unique hits. Some Twilight related, a few in foreign languages, and this one:

Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands

This is part 5 of 6 of a travel book published in 1875 and now available online. Part 5 begins on the Washington/Oregon border in Dalles City.

Bigfoot appears

In a colossal coincidence, the passage refers to the same Indian-carved ape-heads I just posted about:Oregon, if one may judge by the fossil remains in Mr. Condon's collection, seems once to have been inhabited by a great number and variety of pre-adamite beasts; but the most singular object he has to show is a very striking ape's head, carved with great spirit and vigor out of hard lava. This object was found upon the shore of the Columbia by Indians, after a flood which had washed away a piece of old alluvial bank. The rock of which it is composed is quite hard; the carving is, as I said, done with remarkable vigor; and the top of the head is hollowed out, precisely as the Indians still make shallow depressions in figures and heads which they carve out of slate, in which to burn what answers in their religious ceremonies for incense.

But supposing this relic to belong to Oregon--and there is, I was told, no reason to believe otherwise--where did the Indian who carved it get his idea of an ape? The Indians of this region, poor creatures that they are, have still the habit of carving rude figures out of slate and other soft rocks. They have also the habit of cutting out shallow, dish-like depressions in the heads of such figures, wherein to burn incense. But they could not give Mr. Condon any account of the ape's head they brought him, nor did they recognize its features as resembling any object or creature familiar to them even by tradition.
I don't know why the Indians didn't recognize the figures carved by their ancestors, but some people claim these carvings represent some version of the being later identified as Sasquatch or Bigfoot.

Back to Kaheleha

But that's neither here nor there. Most of Part 5 consists of the author's recounting of Hawaiian legends. In particular, there's "The Story and Song of Kawelo":Kawelo, of the island of Kauai, was a sort of giant; handsome, well made, muscular, his prodigious strength defied animate and inanimate nature.The details don't matter except this one:In the following canto Kawelo reproaches and menaces the chief Kaheleha, who had deserted him for Aikanaka.So a travel book about the Pacific Northwest Indians includes a legend about a Hawaiian chief named Kaheleha. One hundred thirty-one years later, a YA book about the Pacific Northwest Indians includes a legend about a Quileute chief named Kaheleha. Coincidence? You be the judge.

For more on the subject, see Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

Below:  Mountain goat, Bigfoot, or Quileute werewolf?

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