Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today's Tidbit - The Legend of Face Rock

This is a tidbit I wrote about one of my favorite sights on the Oregon coast.  The sunshine and blue sky today made me remember it, and how much I love the coast!

A striking natural rock formation known as "Face Rock" lies off the Oregon coast near the small town of Bandon.  The largest rock appears to be a human face, gazing up into the sky.  What is the legend/history behind this unique rock?

 Answer:  The origins of the name "Face Rock" come from an old Pacific Northwest Coast Indian legend. The tribes living in the Bandon area were known as either the Coosans or the Athapaskans.  Here is the legend. 

Many, many years ago, Chief Necomah invited Indians far and near to come to the coast and join him in trade and a great feast.  Chief Siskiyou from the far mountains came, bringing along his beautiful daughter, Princess Ewauna.  The feast was truly splendid: the people roasted bear, salmon, elk; huge quantities of clams, mussels were steamed;  honey and huckleberries were the dessert.  

But Necomah warned his visitors from faraway to stay away from the ocean.  An evil spirit, Seatka, lived in the sea, and might cause trouble for the people and their guests. So Necomah placed armed warriors on guard over the high bluffs above the beach, and discouraged the people from going into the water. But Princess Ewauna was enchanted by the sea, never having seen it before.  

One night, while the people were sleeping, Ewauna slipped out of camp and went down to the water, carrying her cat and kittens in a basket and followed by her faithful dog, Komax.  The moon was full and the water glistened in the light.  Ewauna was not afraid of Seatka and began to swim, going farther and farther from shore.  Seatka saw the beautiful princess and rose up to capture her.  

Komax barked a warning - but it was too late. Seatka tried to force Ewauna to look into his eyes, for if she did she would fall under his spell and be his forever.  But she refused to look – staring only at the great, round moon above.  Komax swam bravely out to help his mistress, biting the hand of Seatka.  Enraged, Seatka swung his mighty arm, knocking the dog back to the beach.  He then flung Ewauna's basket of kittens out into the dark waters.  But still she would not look at him.  

The next morning, Chief Siskiyou saw his daughter was missing and sounded the alarm.  The people rushed to the ocean shore.  There they saw the lovely face of Princess Ewauna gazing up to the sky.  On the beach sat Komax, sadly howling at his mistress.  Ewauna's basket, cat, and kittens floated in front of her.  But alas, the evil Seatka had turned them all to stone – his revenge for Ewauna's refusal to love him.  Chief Siskiyou was heart-broken.  He left and never returned.

You can still see Princess Ewauna, Komax, et. al., at the "Face Rock" Viewpoint off Beach Loop Drive in Bandon, Oregon. (it's worth the trip!)