Squaw Rock Becomes Frog Woman Rock
An Early View of the trail that became Hwy 101 passing Squaw Rock
Normally, I’d be all curmudgeonly about a landmark being renamed but this year’s renaming of Squaw Rock to something more politically correct and more closely tied to the original Pomo name rather charms me. Unless someone derails the change, the place shall now be know as Frog Woman Rock.
I suppose this means the historical landmark legend will have to be changed? Currently it reads (according to Ernie Branscomb):
“This early landmark, also called Lover’s Leap, is associated with the purported legend of a 19th-century Sanel Indian maiden, Sotuka. Her faithless lover, Chief Cachow, married another, all three were killed when Sotuka, holding a great stone, jumped from the precipice upon the sleeping pair below.” (In this post here, I look at the earliest documented version. A young white schoolgirl wrote down the tale supposedly told by her Native American servant.)
The proposed change document recounts the search to find a more authentic name.
John Hudson was a medical doctor and ethnologist living in Mendocino County in the late 1800s. A vast amount of primary information concerning Pomo tribes are recorded in various journals, notebooks, sketches, paintings, photographs, maps, recordings, and collections of the Hudson family. The following extract is taken from John Hudson’s unpublished Pomo Linguistic Manuscript. The Pomo words identified in the Hudson notebook appear to be in the Northern Pomo language. The orthology (the spellings of the words) is as it appears in Hudson’s notebook….
‘Ka-lo’ko-ko. Small flat opposite Squaw Rock. Trail to the west of the rock. The rock is avoided because of Bi-tsin’ ma-ca living there.
Bi-tsin’ ma-ca Ka-be’. (frog woman cliff) Squaw rock. A bold headland near Pieta. Bi-tsin’ ma-ca (frog woman) syn. (Ba-tak’ ma’ca) The white woman of beautiful face but body of a frog. Could jump a hundred feet and snatch a man who after administering to her pleasures was devoured. She had a den in the face of Squaw Rock.’
Now talk about an interesting legend…A white woman with a beautiful face but a squat ugly body lived in a tall cliff. She could jump 100 feet and would drag Native American men off to administer “to her pleasures.” Then, like a black widow, she would devour them. This story had the local tribes nervous enough supposedly that they beat a trail to the west of her home in order to avoid her clutches.
(My son pointed out that I would not be as enchanted with this story if it involved raping women. Apparently, I’m not politically correct enough… sigh, every generation’s behavior is viewed with disgust by the next generation.)
Photo of Squaw Rock from a wonderful site on Healdsburg history.