By Derek Olson
A Megalithic Marvels Special Investigative Series
THE ORAL TRADITION
The northern Paiutes of Nevada have an ancient oral tradition that they have passed down from generation to generation that usually causes the hearer to pause in bewilderment. The Paiutes state that long ago in ages past they went to war against a ferocious enemy known as the “Si-Te-Cah” or “Saiduka.” Now here is where this prehistoric tale becomes fascinating. According to the Paiutes, the Si-Te-Cah were a race of red-haired cannibalistic giants that would literally devour the flesh of their foes! The chronicle states that after three years of blood-weary-battles, a coalition of regional tribes finally unified together to conquer this savage enemy. The allied tribes bravely pushed the Si-Te-Cah back into the depths of a very large cave and quickly covered the entrance with brush piles. A fire was then set ablaze that began to suffocate the giants and any would-be escapees were quickly shot with a fury of fire-piercing arrows. The giant cannibalistic carnivores finally met their grim fate in a blazing cavernous inferno.
“Si-Te-Cah” is said to be translated as “Tule-Eaters” in the northern Paiute language. Tule is a species of water plant that grows in marshes across North America and would have grown in “Lake Lahontan,” a Pleistocene lake that once covered much of northwestwestern Nevada around 12,700 years ago. According to the oral tradition, the giants used the tule to weave rafts in which to navigate the lake, flee surprise attacks from the Paiutes and worst of all – capture the Paiute women who would gather tule near the shore of Humboldt lake. 1
THE WRITTEN ACCOUNT
The legend of the Red haired giants began to rapidly spread in 1883 when Sarah Winnemucca, daughter of Chief Winnemucca, wrote the first known autobiography by a Native American woman called “Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims.” In her book, Winnemucca discusses a tribe of barbarians that she says were known as the “People-Eaters” who lived along the Humboldt river and who would waylay her people and eat them. She states the following in her memoirs…
“My people say that the tribe we exterminated had reddish hair. I have some of their hair, which has been handed down from father to son. I have a dress which has been in our family a great many years, trimmed with this reddish hair. I am going to wear it some time when I lecture. It is called a mourning dress, and no one has such a dress but my family.” 2
Giant stature and red hair would obviously be considered genetic anomalies in the context of this account. So to the skeptics who say the Si-Te-Cah were not actually giants but just a tall enemy tribe, I ask the following questions…
Why did the Si-Te-Cah have red hair & not black hair like the other indigenous tribes of the area?
Why would one of the most influential Paiute families of the region save the red hair of their enemy and carefully pass it down from generation to generation and then trim their most treasured garments with it if it was just the hair from a normal human being?
2 Winnemucca, Sarah, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, 1883