Manataka American Indian Council






By Sandra Long & Marcus Phillips


Monolo was a handsome young Sanaque hunter and warrior, the pride of his people who live up the North Trail that leads from the healing waters of Manataka.  One day, while hunting along a river, he was surprised to see a crimson-red buffalo.  The young brave was so excited by this strange apparition that he pursued it all day on his swift steed but was unable to catch up with it.  At nightfall, he made camp and went to bed for the night, only to dream of the fantastic red buffalo.  In the early morning, he arose to see the crimson beast grazing in the tall grass.  Mounting his horse, Monolo again gave pursuit, but the buffalo sped down the trail before him, always just out of reach.  The chase continued for many days.  At times, Monolo was close enough to shoot at the animal but the arrows always fell short.

Finally, the warrior realized that the creature was enchanted, and he remembered the teachings of his people about overcoming evil powers.  Taking his remaining arrows, he placed them near a hollow rock, and in the hollow he put a mixture of vine juice and crushed red berries.  After dancing around the stone five times, Monolo dipped his arrows in the blood-red potion. Then, seeing the buffalo at some distance, he placed an arrow to his bow and sent it speeding toward the animal.  The arrow killed it.  Monolo saw then that what he had been pursuing was the spirit of an evil chief who had planned to use him for some wicked intent.

By this time, the day was far spent; and Monolo, realizing that the chase had led him into an unknown land, felt lonely and dejected thinking of the long journey home.  Just then, however, his loneliness was interrupted by a beautiful maiden of the Pacuache tribe, who kindly offered him food and water and inquired of the people and the land from which he had come.  Monolo answered her, relating how he had ridden many days down the trail and had killed the crimson beast.  Then the maiden, who carried the wampum of her tribe, said, "I am the daughter of Tuscoro, Chief of the Passaqua.  By killing this evil beast who has plagued us for many years, you have done a great service to my people.  Come to my village with me, and I will tell my father and his braves of your great deed."

Together, they went through the wooded valley toward the smoking campfires of the village, which was surrounded by barking dogs.  Ouanita related to her father and the braves of the village the great deed of Monolo, and shouts of joy went up in praise of the hunter.  But none of this praise thrilled Monolo as much as the love that was building in his heart for the maiden who wore a wild rose in her hair that complimented the luster of her eyes.  When Monolo expressed this love Ouanita, she returned it with all her heart; but when Tuscoro was told that they wished to marry, he forbade the affair, saying that Ouanita must remain with him for the remainder of his life.

Greatly saddened, the two lovers pledged their love to each other, agreeing to wait until the death of Tuscoro, and Monolo went up the North Trail to his people.  There, as the moons when by, he tried to pass his days in the hunt while Ouanita went about her daily a task of keeping her aged father happy until, finally, he crossed the silent stream into death.  When all respects were paid, Ouanita's thoughts returned to her lover in the north.  Thinking that Monolo would not hear of Tuscoro's death, she prepared herself for her wedding and, mounting her horse, headed to the North Lands in search of her lover.  After many days of travel, however, she became lost, and while trying to gather food on a mountainside, she fell into a ravine and crushed her head on a rock.

In the meantime, Monolo dreamed that Tuscoro had died and eagerly began his journey south.  After crossing many mountains, he saw the horse that belonged to Ouanita, and his heart sickened as he realized that his love might have met with misfortune.  The next day, he found Ouanita in the sleep of death on the banks of a mountain stream that ran along the trail.  She was dressed in full bridal regalia.  Dismounting his horse, Monolo lay beside Ouanita and plunging a knife into a vein, gave up his spirit, beyond the sunset.  Their union was consummated in the presence of Tuscoro, who now happily gave his consent.

The faithful love of Monolo and Ouanita did not go unnoticed by the Great Spirit.  At the place where their bodies lay, he caused two veins of water to gush from the bank of the stream.

Foreverafter, the two springs, one cool and one tepid, have mingled in the current that flows to the Bull Bayou at the Ouachita (Buffalo) River near Manataka. 

As time passed by, a paved road covered the old North Trail, and a bridge was built over the stream.  Earth-moving equipment obliterated the Twin Springs; and their veins, lost in the leaf mold, vegetation, and sandy banks, found their way into the stream underground.  But according to legend, the rippling brook and the breeze that plays in the leaves of nearby trees join their voices in singing a requiem of the past, and story of Monolo and Ouanita does not go unsung.

From "Indian Folklore Atlas of Hot Springs National Park" by Marcus Phillips and Sandra Long. 






A secret, mystic cave hidden somewhere on West Mountain has been the home for many centuries of an old woman who lives there with her dog.

The old woman spends her time diligently weaving a beautiful rug from pine needles that she has collected in the forest. Her dog spends his time napping in a corner of the cave and watching his mistress through narrow slits in his eyes.

From time to time, the old woman lays down her rug and goes to stir the soup she keeps cooking in a clay pot over a fire at the mouth of the cave. When she does this, the dog creeps out of his corner and, taken the rug in his jaws, shakes it until he has unraveled a part of it.

When the old woman returns to her work, she patiently tries to restore the damaged rug and resumes her weaving, but soon she must again attend to the soup that boils in her pot. Each time she leaves the rug, the sly old dog again ravels as much or more than she has been able to complete at the last sitting.

Thus, down through the years, the two have continued their ritual of weaving, raveling, and reweaving, but the rug never grows any larger. This is a good thing, for if ever the rug is finished, the world as we know it will come to an end.


Credits: The "Legend of the Twin Springs" and "The Old Woman and the Cave" both by Sandra Long and Marcus Phillips are from the  "Indian Folklore Atlas of Hot Springs National Park" (1994).   

Indian Folklore Atlas of Hot Springs National Park

by Marcus Phillips and Sandra Long 

The Valley of the Vapors, Manataka -- The Place of Peace was never told as well before this excellent resource guide was written.  Well researched with dozens of references, this book contains the colorful history of Hot Springs and Indian legends of this sacred site. The Indian Folk Lore Atlas also serves as a tour guide with seven individual walking tours designed to take the visitor back in time to the actual locations where history was made.  This book is endorsed by the American Indian Center of Arkansas, the City of Hot Springs and the Garland County Historical Society.  Experts of the Caddo, Quapaw and Cherokee nations consulted on this book. A wonderful addition to any library.  Great for the coffee table. Dozens of maps and illustrations. 195 pp. Soft Cover.  $37.95 





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