Yosemite’s history includes Native American legends and lore to explain how the monolithic granite structures came to be.
Many generations ago, long before the Great Spirits completed their work on the cliffs and domes in the Valley of Ahwahnee, Tis-sa-ack and her husband, Nangas, traveled to the fertile valley to make it their home.
As was the tradition in those days long ago, the woman carried a beautiful, but heavy cone-shaped basket that was woven from reeds and course grasses. Tis-sa-ack labored under the weight of her heavy burden and papoose carrier, while Nangas carried his bow, arrows and staff.
The sun shone high and hot and the couple had grown very thirsty as they finally arrived at the Valley they knew as Ahwahnee. Nangas, tired and hot from the long journey suddenly lost his temper and struck Tis-sa-ack with his staff. She ran away to escape his wrath.
The Great Spirits caused the path she took to become a stream and the acorns she dropped became oak trees. Tis-sa-ack came upon the beautiful Mirror Lake. So great was her thirst that she drank every drop of the water. When Nangas arrived the lake was dry!
So enraged was he that there was no water for him, he again struck her with his staff. As Tis-sa-ack fled again, tears streaking her face, she turned and threw her heavy basket at her husband.
As the Great Spirits watched this scene, they were displeased. “Tis-sa-ack and Nangas have broken the spell of peace,” they said. “Let us transform them into cliffs of granite that face each other, so that they will be forever parted.”
Tis-sa-ack is known forever to us as Half Dome and Nangas as Washington Column. Her basket became Basket Dome, her papoose carrier became the Royal Arches.
Can you see the tears that still stain Tis-sa-ack’s face? You can make out her light gray silhouette as she faces to the left.
Photo and story submitted for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Face