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kbatku
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 11:32 pm 
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OK, here's the deal...

STICK INDIANS

Now, I suppose you don't have to believe me, and if you are in the least bit rational and go into the woods occasionally, it's probably better if you don't...

But here is a tale, something to think about, something that really, really happened to my wife and I seventeen or so years ago, and may....someday...happen to you.

Or your children.

So, listen to me or don't. Believe me or not. Remember this, or forget it.
But, please tell your children this tale, or a summary of it, or change it around so they understand the danger involved in the woods, and the peculiar hazards of Stick Indians.

Now, let me tell you.

When this happened to my wife and I, and it's no great thing really, we were puzzled and mystified and mostly, deeply impressed by what was happening. But it was a magic filled night, and we were open to the mysteries and magic of the world and maybe that's why it happened to us that night, and never since.  It was only later that I understood it's import, and the event became significant as more than just a strange tale...

Most people I've talked to who go to the woods have never heard such a thing as we heard, or come close to the experience, and these people shrug and think we are making it up, or were stoned, or just plain silly.

I can tell you honestly, this story is true. We were both stone sober, alert  and no sillier than usual.

ANYWAY...

It was New Years Eve, 1991 and my wife and I were walking in to Boulder Cave (Chinook Pass) at about 9PM.  There was very little snow on the trail - just a skiff.  It was a clear, brilliant night - no moon but crisp stars and the occasional cloud.  It was dark, but we had flashlights and warm clothes and we walking in to meet some friends and spend the night at the cave to celebrate New Years (sober).

Back then the USFS wasn't worried about some mythical bats and you could hike into the cave at any time of the year. Now, they close it just when the place gets interesting to preserve some bats no one has ever seen...

As we made our way up the trail, we could hear children playing in the distance, like a school yard, or a play ground. At first we tried to think of what it could be - maybe campers, or people staying at Camp Roganunda, but on our way in we'd seen no evidence of anyone else anywhere in the area.

Roganunda was closed down tight, and no camps, lights, or fires were in evidence anywhere. What was a large group of children doing playing loudly in the distance, up a canyon, in the middle of the woods, on New Years Eve? It didn't make sense...

Besides, there was an odd, consistent quality to the laughing children noise - it faded in and out of hearing, just on the edge of being there, carried by the wind as if from a great distance, funneled and shaped by the mountains and trees and streams until it found our ears, then back out again, to be lost for a moment, only to return.

We said "Do you hear that? Do you hear that?" and would stop and wonder to each other what it could be.  On and on as we hiked, the children haunted us - laughing and screaming and yelling just beyond reason and hearing, like sound waves coming through the flames of a campfire.

Anyway, we got to the cave and told our friends about it and wondered together, but forgot about it after a while and played our flutes and listened to New Age Music (on a "boom box" with cassette tapes!) and burned candles and talked philosophy and mystery and deep meaning around the fire until the wee hours of the morning.

It was a wonderful time.

Walking out, something had changed, subtly. The woods seemed a bit ominous. Maybe we were just tired. But, as we made our way down the trail, my wife spotted something odd propped against the base of a tree.

It was meant to be found - I think - by us - I think.

We thought (at the time) that it had been left for us by whatever made the laughing noises. As older and more cynical as I am now, I can still believe that is, or could be,  true...

The object:

It is impossible to adequately describe the object, other than that it was a small abstract figurine, woven of tiny sticks, moss, pine needle and lichen. The workmanship was so intricate and subtle and bizarre that as we picked it up and looked at it, we are at first amazed, then just a little bit frightened.

Then shaken, a lot.  The damn thing was weird.  It was easy to dismiss the laughing children as a natural phenomenon, or the wind, or our dual imaginations, or just some strange, inexplicable occurrence.  The figurine was real - and it wasn't on the trail side on the way up.

And, no one else had been up to the cave while we were there - no cars, foot prints, no marks in the snow - nothing.

I picked it up and took it home and kept it for a while, broodingly examining it closely for clues. The thing was creepy and full of bad magic, and after a while I threw it away.

FAST FORWARD

The incident got filed away in my memory and I gradually forgot about it, mostly.  Years later, I got a job working for the Yakama Nation.  This job involved lots of down-time and my co-worker (Yakama) and I would talk about life and stories and such.

One day, I casually recounted the story and when I got to the part about the laughing children his head snapped around and he became very alert and acutely interested.  He quizzed me about every detail, and I recounted the story as I've told it here.

He was a reticent guy, but he told me point blank that we'd run into "Stick Indians" and explained briefly what Stick Indians are.

Yakamas don't like to talk about Stick Indians.

Warning: Do not bring up the subject of Stick Indians with a Yakama unless you know them very well. It is verboten.  Trust me.

Bad ju ju.

Briefly:  The true nature and physical attributes of Stick Indians are unknown. No one (to my knowledge) has ever encountered a Stick Indian and survived to tell about it.  So, the "myth" as recounted to me is that Stick Indians are  small, vicious and cunning - semi-man like but about three to four feet tall and very skinny, with elongated arms and legs and sharp teeth, and claws on their hands and feet. They live in deep forests, and are occasionally heard, but never seen.

The "laughing" that we heard is how they lure victims out into the forest, where they become disoriented and lost as they attempt to locate the "children" playing in the woods.  If the victim is an adult, the presumption is that they are attacked and eaten - and the body's remains are never found.

If the victim is a small child, the Stick Indians turn them into Stick Indians, through some demonic Stick Indian Magic.

There is much more to the legend, and much more to say about what other Yakamas have told me since, but it is getting late.  For a long time I didn't feel feel like I should carry tales, or hazard the risk of upsetting my Yakama friends by speaking these things aloud. So, until now, I've kept this mostly to myself.

I respect the forest, and the Yakamas, and honor their beliefs. The story of Stick Indians would be just another Indian tale for me, if I hadn't experienced them myself. As such, I was privileged with the information I describe here, and hope that it has been relayed as honestly and accurately as I am able.

Maybe it wasn't real, and maybe you don't believe me, or maybe there is an explanation for it all that makes sense - but know this:

Warn your children!!
  Do not follow the sound of other children playing when you are in the woods!! You might get lost, and never come back!! Don't tell them what would really happen to them - that's a horrible secret that we can keep, just between you and me, for now.

Daniel
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Magellan
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PostThu Jul 17, 2008 11:36 pm 
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Thanks a lot.  Why do I have to read this at 1135pm when I am heading to bed?  paranoid.gif
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seawallrunner
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 12:11 am 
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interesting story.

I'd dismiss it as a story if it had not been told to me in the last two years, by two separate people who do not know one another, to whom this happened in two different areas of british columbia. both of these are difficult hikes.

now - neither of the stories included the eyes.gif on the trail but both of my friends heard the laughing kids, the voices trying to lure one out of the tent on a blustery night? oh yes.

there is a lot that we see in the rational world, and a lot that we sense in the world that we cannot see. too bad you felt the return was ominous. perhaps they were laughing because you were joining them, and the mood became ominous because the spirits were sad to see you go.

and heck, these make great stories when you are trying to scare your tent mates silly on a stormy night.
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kleet
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 8:48 am 
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My dad grew up in Harrah and my mom grew up in White Swan.  I know something about this subject. Not sure I agree with you posting it.  That is all I am willing to say.

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Ace
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 9:21 am 
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That's a story i'm telling around the campfire tonight.  Forgive if I tell it in the first person.  It works better that way. tongue.gif

My friends were getting tired of me telling the same Hogman story every year.
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slave524
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 11:56 am 
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I heard about these from a Lummi friend of mine when we were exchanging ghost stories one night
It is interesting hearing the same thing from a tribe on the other side of the mountains!
Though I think they are probably just Chupacabras  tongue.gif
Usually if I hear kids in the woods I steer clear anyhow
Noisy little brats  biggrin.gif
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MidLifeHiker
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 12:54 pm 
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Wow,
I haven't heard the term "Stick Indians" since I was a kid growing up in Wapato.  We use to camp in the mountains between Topenish and Goldendale, west of Satus pass.  My grandparents use to warn us about getting lost in the mountains while camping because the Stick Indians would capture us and we would never be found.  This was 40 years ago.  My grandfather use to tell us lots of stories.

Your story brought back many of the good times we had camping.  We never camped is "real" campgrounds, but went cross country in jeeps until we found a cool place to camp and fish.

Mark
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mountaineer ordinaire
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 1:39 pm 
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kleet wrote:
Not sure I agree with you posting it.

Personally, I don't think there's much harm in his post (which, btw, I enjoyed reading) because a google search of "Stick Indians" results in this number of pages: 3,610
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jimmymac
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 1:39 pm 
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Sights and sounds are only energy until our brains convert them to something that has meaning. Disruption of the energy reaching our brains, or disruption of our brain function can mess with the interpretation.

Recently, I was headed back to the car after a night of summit solitude. Since it was a Saturday, I was expecting to encounter other hikers headed up as I headed down.

Rounding a bend, I spotted a young WTA worker resting a ways ahead. Her trim frame was parked on a small trailside boulder. She was leaning forward with her elbows resting on her knees. In front of her stood a white, five-gallon bucket. She was a welcome and familiar sight on what was a pretty horse-stressed trail.

She was looking down the trail, opposite my direction. So as I approached, I felt obliged to issue a greeting to avoid startling her.  I soon recognized that no such greeting would be necessary: the hot, rutted trail had instantly become a hot, rutted and once again lonely trail.

Who needs drugs when there's "recreational dehydration?"

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kbatku
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 4:17 pm 
Stick Indians....
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kleet wrote:
My dad grew up in Harrah and my mom grew up in White Swan.  I know something about this subject. Not sure I agree with you posting it.  That is all I am willing to say.

I know what you mean. They aren't something you talk about. As for Googling "Stick Indians" - I did prior to posting the story and there is very little on the subject.

Lots of pages with "stick" and "Indian" in them - mostly from Stick Games and a bunch from the Indians baseball team.

I found this one Stick Indian Lewis & Clark Memorial  Pin but the explanation of what a Stick Indian is doesn't jibe with my story:

Quote:
Traditional stories place Stick Indians in the mountains, where they help lost hunters by whistling to lead them to safety. Always present, the Stick Indians look upon the activities of the tribe, reminding people to honor native traditions and maintain a favorable relationship with nature.

Those are apparently the happy, cheerful Stick Indians - kind of a Native American Leprechaun (?). I guess they could have cousins who are nasty and unpleasant ( don't we all?).

Also this:   
Quote:
"The Ste-ye-hah' mah or Stick-shower are a mysterious and dangerous people whose general habitat is the lofty forest regions of the Cascade Mountains. They haunt the tangled timber-falls, which serve them as domiciles, or lodges. They are as large as the ordinary Indian; their language is to mimic notes of birds and animals. Nocturnal in habit, they sleep or remain in seclusion during the day and consequently are seen only on very rare occasions. Is under the cover of darkness that they perform the acts which have fastened upon them the odious appellation 'stick-shower'. It is then that they thrust sticks through any opening of the tepee or hunter's lodge, or shower sticks upon the belated traveler. The Indian who is delayed or lost from the trail is very apt to receive their attention.

He may hear a signal, perhaps a whistle, ahead of him. should he follow the sound, it will be repeated for a time. Then he will hear it in the opposite direction, along the path he has just passed. If he turns back, it will only be to detect the mysterious noises elsewhere, leading to utter confusion and bewilderment.

When the traveler is crazed with dread, or overcome by exhaustion and sleep; it is then that the Stick-shower scores a victory. Regaining his head, or awakening from slumber, the wanderer is more than likely to find himself stripped of all clothing, perhaps bound and trussed with thongs. He is fortunate to escape with his life." km

    Where Bigfoot is conflated with the tiny, aggressive Stick Indians.

Strange things happen in the woods, and once this happened to us, that's all I'm saying.
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 8:15 pm 
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Huh. I found this little potbellied fellow trailside on my birthday a couple weeks ago and took it as a good omen for some reason that he let me photograph him.  The arms/legs are short and squat so maybe he's the Stick Indian antithesis?  Then again, the grin is a bit toothsome and devilish...

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touron
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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 9:04 pm 
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That one looks more like a small petrified elephant.  A remnant of Hannibals herd that wandered from Italy, through Asia, and eventually crossed the land bridge.   Descendants of the original herd can still be found in mountainous coastal regions of North America.

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PostFri Jul 18, 2008 10:52 pm 
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In hindsight, I should've taken into consideration others might take away something completely different.

So to clarify:
(Click on image to see anatomy tags.  Kinda.  Sorta.)
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jenjen
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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 7:43 am 
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This isn't something the Nooksack talk about - other than to warn friends to be careful of whistles and children noises in the woods.

I respect their beliefs too much to pry.  And I trust their deep knowledge of the forest.

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PostSat Jul 19, 2008 5:56 pm 
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I like the night walkers, the menehunes of Hawaii.  Friends over there tell stories of waking up at night, being trampled in bed, and bowing and facing away to show respect.  Mysterious lights at night, processions walking where no one should be.  There's a story that the Hilton Waikaloa on the Big Island is built on an ancient road, more ancient than the King's Road, the elders told them they better be careful about building the hotel on the road - they listened, moved some buildings and actually built up the path through the Hilton to keep the menhune happy and moving.

Not so menacing as Stick Indians, but lots of things out there worth respecting.
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