Legend Of Tu-tok-a-nu'-la El Capitan
Source: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest
Here were once two little boys living in the valley who went down to the
river to swim. After paddling and splashing about to their hearts'
content, they went on shore and crept up on a huge boulder which stood
beside the water. They lay down in the warm sunshine to dry themselves,
but fell asleep. They slept so soundly that they knew nothing, though
the great boulder grew day by day, and rose night by night, until it
lifted them up beyond the sight of their tribe, who looked for them
The rock grew until the boys were lifted high into the heaven, even far
up above the blue sky, until they scraped their faces against the moon.
And still, year after year, among the clouds they slept.
Then there was held a great council of all the animals to bring the boys
down from the top of the great rock. Every animal leaped as high as he
could up the face of the rocky wall. Mouse could only jump as high as
one's hand; Rat, twice as high. Then Raccoon tried; he could jump a
little farther. One after another of the animals tried, and Grizzly Bear
made a great leap far up the wall, but fell back. Last of all Lion
tried, and he jumped farther than any other animal, but fell down upon
his back. Then came tiny Measuring-Worm, and began to creep up the rock.
Soon he reached as high as Raccoon had jumped, then as high as Bear,
then as high as Lion's leap, and by and by he was out of sight, climbing
up the face of the rock. For one whole snow, Measuring-Worm climbed the
rock, and at last he reached the top. Then he wakened the boys, and came
down the same way he went up, and brought them down safely to the
ground. Therefore the rock is called Tutokanula, the measuring worm. But
white men call it El Capitan.
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