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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Speelyai Bay, Speelyai Creek, and Speelyai Canal, Washington"
Includes ... Speelyai Bay ... Speelyai Creek ... Speelyai Canal ... Speelyai Park ... Speelyai Fish Hatchery ...
Image, 2018, Speelyai, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sign, Speelyai Day Use Park and Speelyai Hatchery, Washington. Image taken August 29, 2018.


Speelyai Bay, Speelyai Creek, and Speelyai Canal ...
Speelyai Bay and Speelyai Creek merges into Lake Merwin (Lewis River) at Lewis River Mile (RM) 29. Speelyai Canal merges into Yale Lake (Lewis River) at Lewis River Mile (RM) 37.5. The mouth of Speelyai Creek is located in T6N R3E, Sections 22/23.

Speelyai, the Coyote ...

"Speelyai" is a Native American name for their god "Coyote".

"Spilyeh Creek:   a tributary of Lewis River, five miles below the town of Yale, in the southeastern part of Cowlitz County. It was named for an Indian chief of that name. The word means "coyote." (Anna Griffiths, of Yale, in "Names MSS." Letter 243.) In the itinerary of Captain George B. McClellan, 1853, the creek is mentioned with its present name. ("Pacific Railroad Reports," Volume 1., pages 377-389.) The Indians of that vicinity had many legends of "Speelyai" (coyote) the great Indian god. ("Dr. G.P. Kuykendall, in "History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington," Volume II, pages 64-66.)" [Edmond S. Meany, 1923, "Origin of Washington Place Names"]

"Speelyai Creek:   The stream of the creek rises south of Merrill Lake, southeast Cowlitz County, flows 10 miles south to Lake Merwin. This is the Indian word for "coyote". In this case, the creek was named for an Indian chief who had adpoted the coyote's name." [Hitchman, 1985, "Place Names of Washington"]

"Speelyais Columns:   (Multnomah). These rock columns are on the south bank of the Columbia River near Shepperds Dell. They are the cores of old basalt volcanic vents, the softer coverings of which have been eroded away. They are named with the Indian word Speelyai, the name of the coyote trickster of the mid-Columbia region. (See Lyman's Columbia River, p.8.) The columns were named about 1915 when the Historic Columbia River Highway was completed. In 1999, the compiler was unable to find anyone who could point out their exact location." [McArthur and McArthur, 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names"]

SPEELYAI (COYOTE), THE GREAT INDIAN GOD.

"... An examination into the myths of the Indians shows Coyote as being almost all-powerful, -- transforming the face of nature, changing living beings to stone, transforming himself into a feather, a little mewling baby, or into anything that might forward his purposes. He traveled over the earth, met and subjugated the monsters, demons and tyrant gods that were destroying the people. He always was the friend of the Indian and an enemy to their foes. While he is represented in their mythis as performing such wonderful and supernatural things, he often found himself outwitted and circumvented even by some small and insignificant animal, and is spoken of as doing the most ridiculous and absurd things, and getting into predicaments of the most painful or ludicrous character. ...   He is represented as being very acute and cunning, and as resorting to all sorts of stratagems, fair or unfair, to accomplish his objects. ... In short, Coyote was a being with the qualities of a real coyote and a live Indian. The Indian's god was, in short, like himself, -- full of treachery and deceit, ignorant yet cunning; wise in some respects, yet full of folly and childishness. Upon the whole, Coyote was a pretty good character, viewed from the Indian standpoint, and, in fact, must have represented at one time the Indian's idea of a being worthy to be called god. ..."


Source:    Northwest Pacific History Company, 1889, "The Indians of the Pacific Northwest ..., Legends, Myths, Manners and Customs of the Indians": IN: History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington ..., Volume II, Chapter LX.


"Spilyeh" or "Speelyai" ...
An early spelling of "Speelyai" was "Spilyeh". In 1853, Captain George G. McClellan used the spelling "Shilyeh" in his explorations. However, in 1889, the spelling "Speelyai" was printed in "History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington".

The U.S. Geological Survey's Names Information System (GNIS) lists other variations along with "Spilyeh" or "Speelyai" ("Speilei", "Speelyei", "Speelei", "Speelyei", and "Spielei"). On November 28, 1928, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names committee, in consultation with E.S. Meany and L.A. McArthur, recommended "Speelyai" as the official spelling. It was approved January 8, 1929.


"Spilyeh Prairie" (Klickitat Trail) ...
"Spilyeh ("myth coyote") Prairie" was a 3/4 mile long and 1/4 mile wide prairie located on the historic Klickitat Trail, a loosely defined "trail" of prairies and plains between the Yakima River and the Klickitat River drainages to The Dalles and Fort Vancouver. This "trail" allowed the indigenous tribes to move between central Washington to the Columbia River. These plains and prairies were first mapped between 1853 and 1855 by Pacific Railroad surveyors George McClellan (1853) and James G. Cooper (1854, 1855). The McClellan party camped at Spilyeh Prairie on August 1st, 1853.
[More]

Early Maps ...

Image, 1855, Steven's map, RR surveys, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1855, McClellan's 1854 route along the Lower Klickitat Trail. Original map from Isaac Stevens' "Reports of Explorations and Surveys ...", 1855, Map No.3, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, courtesy Washington State University Digital Colletions, 2018.

"Mankas", "Yahkotl", "Chalacha", "Spilyeh", "Lakas", and the "Ca-la-ma R." (Kalama River), "Cath-la-pootle R." (Lewis River), and "Yah kotl Riv." (East Fork Lewis River).


Speelyai, etc.

  • "Speelyai's Ascent to Heaven" ...
  • Speelyai Bay ...
  • Speelyai Bay Net Pens ...
  • Speelyai Canal ...
  • Speelyai Creek ...
  • Speelyai Fish Hatchery ...
  • Speelyai Park ...


"Speelyai's Ascent to Heaven" ...
SPEELYAI'S ASCENT TO HEAVEN.

"The Indian god Speelyai (Coyote) had five daughters (some say sisters), who all died before he left the world. Because of their death, his grief was inconsolable. He wandered about mourning and crying for them for a great length of time. While thus engaged, he was one day met by a woman, who said to him: "If you will go far away towards the rising sun, you will find a rope or cord reaching down from heaven. Go to that rope and take hold of it, and you will be told what to do." Obeying these directions, he started out towards the east, journeying onward for a great while. He at last found the rope hanging down, as had been told him. Looking all about, he could see no one nor hear any sound. Casting his eyes upward, he saw the rope going on and up until it was lost out of sight, so that it seemed to be suspended from the sky. Growing bolder, he went up, and with his paws grasped the suspended cord, and began to pull and jerk at it. Immediately his hands were involuntarily clutched to the rope, so that, although he tried hard to let go, he could not. He then heard a voice far above, saying to him, "Climb up." He then began climbing, pulling himself up by his paws and feet. In this way he kept going up, up, higher and higher, for one whole summer and winter, when he all of a sudden heard music. He pricked up his ears to listen. The sounds came from a great way above him still. He looked, and beheld a very beautiful country there, -- green grass, trees and beautiful streams. The people were all very happy; but all was far, far above his reach. He now discovered that, while he had been looking and listening, he had become fixed and attached to the rope; so that he could neither go up to the beautiful country above nor recede to the earth below, -- a sad plight, indeed, for a god. While thus suspended between earth and heaven, he heard a voice saying to him: "You cannot come up; your heart has been very bad; you have been forked-tongued and deceitful, and have practiced evil. You are unfit for the heavenly country. You never can come up until you have first confessed your wrongs and put away your evil spirit.

Now Speelyai had been a very great god, and had done many wonderful things; and it was very humiliating to him to have to make confession. He therefore hung up there a long time before he would do so. Finding that there was no other help for him, he made a clean breast of it and confessed his iniquities, and was then drawn up to the sky and went in through the trap door. He almost immediately met four of his daughters, who embraced him with tears of joy and rejoicing. A little while afterwards the younger daughter came along, but expressed no pleasure at meeting him. On the contrary, she wanted to know what he was doing there, and told him he had been sinful and full of deceit, and was not fit for the heavenly country. As they were standing near the trap door in the sky, she gave the discomfited god a shove, when he tumbled down through the opening and fell like Lucifer. The rope by which he had ascended had been drawn up, so that there was nothing to catch hold of; and there was nothing left for him but to fall, and fall he did, sweeping down through upper space for a whole year. When he struck the ground, he was mashed out flat as a tule mat. A voice then said to him, "You shall be a vagabond and wanderer, and shall be a common, contemptible coyote, and shall forever cry and howl for your sins." So from that day to this the coyote has whined and cried of nights, and wandered about hungry and friendless over the world."


Source:    Northwest Pacific History Company, 1889, "The Indians of the Pacific Northwest ..., Legends, Myths, Manners and Customs of the Indians": IN: History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington ..., Volume II, Chapter LX.



Speelyai Bay ...
(to come)

Image, 2018, Speelyai, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Speelyai Bay, Washington. Image taken August 29, 2018.
Image, 2018, Speelyai, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Speelyai Bay, Washington. Image taken August 29, 2018.


Speelyai Bay Net Pens ...
[More]


Speelyai Canal ...
Speelyai Canal is located north of Speelyai Bay/Speelyai Creek, and merges with Yale Lake at Lewis River Mile (RM) 37.5.

According to the 2006 Environamental Impact Statement:

"Speelyai Creek is a tributary to Lake Merwin. A diversion structure 4.3 miles upstream of the mouth of the creek was installed to divert water from the upper watershed into the Speelyai canal that carries flow into Yake Lake. This diversion has been non-functional since 1996 when floods altered the channel. The new channel directs flow into the canal regardless of the diversion structure. A second diversion structure, which supplies water to Speelyai Hatchery, is located 0.1 mile upstream of the mouth. The original purpose of the upper diversion structure was to divert all but 15 cfs of flow into the canal and Yale Lake with remaining flows supplying Speelyai Hatchery. The hatchery, however, receives higher quality water when flows from the upper watershed are diverted to Yale Lake because the lower reach is spring fed and supplies pathogen-free water to the hatchery. Consequently, for the health of the fish in the hatchery and the desire for pathogen-free water, the upper diversion structure has remained closed, diverting all flow into the Speelyai Canal since 1979, except for three occasions. The three occasions it was opened were during severe low flow conditions in October when additional water was needed at the hatchery. However, when the upper diversion structure was damaged during the 1996 high flows, the main channel moved northeast away from the diversion structure rendering it ineffective. As a result, water can no longer be diverted into Lower Speelyai Creek, and there are no plans to restore flows from the upper watershed to lower Speelyai Creek. Flows in lower Speelyai Creek are supplied by springs and small tributaries. At the hatchery intake, flow averages 17 cfs in summer months (July to September), and 21 to 28 cfs during the spring and winter. The Speelyai Hatchery operators report considerable leakage at the hatchery diversion structure, so it is likely that total streamflow (intake plus leakage) is greater than the reported intake flows."


Source:    Lewis River Hydroelectric Projects: Environamental Impact Statement, 2006.



Speelyai Fish Hatchery ...
Speelyai Fish Hatchery is located at the northern end of Speelyai Bay, where Brooks Creek and Speelyai Creek merge into the Bay.
[More]


Speelyai Park ...
Speelyai Park is located at the southern end of Speelyai Bay. Speelyai Park is operated by PacifiCorp.

Day use only ... 25 picnic tables ... Covered picnic shelter ... Water and restrooms ... Swimming beach ... Two-lane boat ramp ... Open year round - hours vary.

Image, 2018, Speelyai, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Speelyai Park, Washington. Image taken August 29, 2018.
Image, 2018, Speelyai, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Picnic tables, Speelyai Park, Washington. Image taken August 29, 2018.
Image, 2018, Speelyai, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Boat launch, Speelyai Park, Washington. Image taken August 29, 2018.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:
  • Hitchman, R., 1985, "Place Names of Washington", Washington Historical Society Press;
  • Lewis River Hydroelectric Projects: Environamental Impact Statement, 2006; Northwest Pacific History Company, 1889, "The Indians of the Pacific Northwest ..., Legends, Myths, Manners and Customs of the Indians": IN: History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington ..., Volume 2, Chapter LX;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society, Portland;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Place Names", University of Washington Press;
  • Northwest Pacific History Company, 1889, "The Indians of the Pacific Northwest ..., Legends, Myths, Manners and Customs of the Indians": IN: History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington ..., Volume II, Chapter LX;
  • "PacifiCorp.com" website, 2018;


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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August 2018