Friday, September 12, 2014

Sinawava -- Paiute Indian Legend about Bryce Canyon


We went back to Bryce Canyon today, after doing some laundry, to see the lower area of the Park which we missed a few days ago.  One of the informational boards caught my eye…it was about the “Legend People” and the Coyote God “Sinawava”.  Being at Zion yesterday and at the end of the scenic Zion Canyon road is the Temple of Sinawava, I was surprised to see the name at Bryce too.  Unfortunately the information board was just a “tease”.  The board stated:  "....A sacred oral tradition of the Paiutes states that he hoodoos are ancient "Legend People" turned into stone by Coyote [God] as punishment....custom of the Paiutes to tell these stories only during the winter season....[but] It is out of respect for this custom that the authentic story is not repeated here."

What the heck?  You tease us with a story, then refuse to tell the story...well, as a Librarian I knew I could find the story and tell it.  So here it is....


The Legend People, were notorious for living too heavily upon the land. They would drink up all these streams and the rivers in the springtime so there would be no water left for all the other creatures come summer.  In the fall, they would gobble up all the pine nuts; so much so that there would be no pine nuts for the other animals to help them survive the winters. This took place for years and years and years.  The animals complained about how bad the Legend People were, and finally got the attention of the powerful Sinawava God, The Coyote. 


The Coyote was famous for being a trickster, and he decided he would punish the Legend People through his trickery. He invited the Legend People to a great banquet, told them there would be enough food to  eat all day long. The Legend People came dressed in their finest, most-colorful clothing, and in their most elaborate face paint.  They sat down to Coyote's great big banquet table. Before anyone could take a single bite, Sinawave, the Coyote, cast a spell on them that turned them to stone. The Legend People tried to flee up over the canyon rim, and in so doing they trampled on top of each other.  Here they stand to this very day stuck like rocks, still adorning their colorful clothes and paint, frozen in time with just the weather slowly washing and fading them into oblivion.


Of course, in the few websites I found the legend on, in its various forms which sound similar to the one I presented, there is the “snicker - snicker” of “hey, doesn’t that sound like us today?”  I, for one, disagree…and I point to the near extinction of certain animals which now are no longer in danger.  As a society we have learned, and we continue to learn, and sometimes it is through our mistakes that we learn the most from.  I will leave it at that…


We were only gone from the motorhome for 2 hours, left the dogs at home since it was nice weather, and such a short time period.  


I think we both could have stayed a little longer….but it was loud with a bunch of foreigners who yelling, I mean, communicating with each other.


Tomorrow we are going to Cedar Breaks National Monument, and on to Cedar City to buy some groceries, and since Cedar City is only 20 miles from the entrance to Kolob Canyon, which is part of Zion National Park, we might just go see the canyon before we buy groceries.   


  1. Love the legend and loved Cedar Breaks. We stayed there 4 days and had a wonderful time on the same trip as Bryce and Zion. Glad to see you including it in your trip.

    1. Knowing you, you probably stayed longer at Cedar Breaks where there is less people than at the National Parks.

  2. Thank you for sharing this legend. We loved Bryce & plan to go back. Your itinerary sounds perfect!

    1. Thank you and welcome to our site!

  3. We loved Bryce NP too. Haven't been to Zion yet, but it is certainly on out list! I'm with Marcia...I can't stop clicking the camera either! Enjoy.....

    1. Keep Zion on that bucket list! It really is a very special place.


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