Nature Notes

Vol. III February 1, 1926 No. 15


One day a few seasons ago I was making my way long the serrated crest of the Tatoosh Range on the lookout for mountain goat. Within a few feet of the top of Plummer Peak, in the midst of a pummice bed that had no doubt in times past been used as a sunning place by goat, my eye was attracted by a peculiar stone. I picked it up and held in my hand a well made arrow point, fashioned, hundreds of years ago perhaps, by the hands of an Indian hunter.

It was made from a flake of volcanic glass not native to the Mount Rainier region. It required little imagination to picture what had occurred. A daring hunter - for now weakling would attempt to pursue the nimble mountain goat on his native range - had climbed the rugged peak to its topmost crag, (he must have known the goats tendency to "always go up" when disturbed) and there silhouetted against the sky he had drawn his bow against Mazama, the mountain goat.

The first arrow had missed its mark - or perhaps had been driven clear thru its victim, as I found the point years later imbedded in the pummice.


I have never found evidence of permanent camps within what is know the National Park, unless a stone pestel used for grinding dried berries, seeds, or roots, which was found years ago near the Park Entrance can be interpreted as such. But there is no question but that the Indians made summer pilgrimages into the high country to hunt and to gather wild berries. Ben Longmire, a descendant of the first settler in the region, tells me that he has also found arrow heads in the goat beds above timberline in Van Trump Park. Goats are still abundant in this region.

Certainly the Indians of the Pacific Northwest looked up to this great peak which towered above them, with mingled fear and reverence. It is true of any aboriginal people that what they cannot understand, they fear, and what they fear, they worship.

No wonder that the mighty mountain, clothed in snow and ice, with subterranean fires, which rumbled within, and sometimes broke forth in flames and smoke, answered the idea of a God to the simple, imaginative mind of the Redman. By all the peoples who lived within sight of its summit, this majestic peak was deemed a power to be feared and conciliated.

Although numerous individuals of a half dozen tribes and two distinct types are known to have lived on all sides of the mountain, the Indians have left little in the way of art, legend, or history.

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