The Mystery People

Hi!  Han!  or Oki!  (Depending on the tribe.)  The second is Lakota and the third “hello” is Blackfeet.

I love a good mystery. Do you?  I hope so because I’m about to tell you a story that is true, but it’s also a mystery — it’s about a people that the tribe of Salish people call “the mystery people.”

I thought it might be fun to try to guess who these people were — remember that the Salish people are in the northern part of this country and farther west than even the Blackfeet.  So they are not too far away from the Pacific.  Here we go:  This is the story of the mystery people.

In the days of long ago — what would be our grandfather’s grandfathers, a mystery people came to Flathead lake.  They were a small, fine featured people, and they brought with them their wives and children who had flattened their heads, which was the style of the coastal Indians at this time.  These strange people came in strong canoes and they came from the direction of what the Salish people called the Great Salt Water (most likely the Pacific Ocean).

They were very few people and they troubled no one.  The Grandfathers say that they were neither white nor Indian.  Their skin color was as dark as an Indian’s, but their features were not those of the American Indian — and they were much smaller in size and structure from the American Indian.

These mystery people — the men — didn’t flatten their heads — only their wives and children did, again, which was the style of different Pacific Coast Indians.  When these people went west, they were gone a very long time, usually, and when they returned, they brought with them dried salmon, which was much prized amongst the Salish.

These people were skilled in the healing arts and knew how to use roots and different barks and teas to cure many illnesses.  They once helped the natives along the coast when illness struck them by telling them not to use the sweat baths and then plunge into cold water — they said that this would kill them.  They saved a great many people by their wise words.

Who were these people?  The only clues given were that these people came from a land beyond the Great Salt Water and that strong winds had blown them so far off course that they were lost.  Finally they saw the lake and land and came toward it, but another storm broke their great canoe.  The Indians along the shore treated them kindly and they lived with them.  Who were these people?

Here’s a little more about them — they were the same color as the Indians but not Indian.  They were a kind people — kind to women and children and they loved to laugh and to play.  They knew many things that they taught the people — one was about fire — they taught the people the exact right stones to use to get dry kindle to light.  What happened to them?

There weren’t many of them and their sons and daughters eventually married Salish people and over time the mystery people vanished.  Who were they?

I honestly don’t know, but I’m willing to make a guess.  The legend says that they were smaller and fine-feathered — but it says nothing about their eye-shape not their difference in color of skin — so I would rule out the orient.  This was long before the white man ever came to Flathead country.  (The picture to the right, by the way is of Flathead Lake — where the mystery people came to live.)

My guess would be Malaysian or perhaps even India Indians.  Because the Malaysians were close to the water, it’s possible that they might have been blown off course.  But I could be very far off.

Do you have a guess?

Dont’ forget that soon…very soon…Lakota Surrender will see it’s first printing in ebooks.  Look for it in December.  Oh, and off to the right here is a picture of 3 generations — myself, my two daughter’s and my new grandbaby. 

So come on in an let’s make a guess about this together.  By the way all those who guess will be eligible to win a free copy of the book, THE LAST WARRIOR — drawing will be done either late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday.

Do come on in — leave a comment and let’s chat!

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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30 thoughts on “The Mystery People”

  1. What a beautiful family you have, Karen. Love the little one. And I didn’t know about the mystery people. Your guess sounds like a good one. Your book cover is …wow!

  2. This is so intriguing, Karen! I love the mysteries of history (sorry for the rhyme). As I was reading this, I kept thinking the mystery people might be Polynesians or even Natives from the Aleutian Islands. Thanks for getting the mental juices flowing this morning.

    Your family is beautiful and your grandbaby is such a cutie!!

    I have to agree with Elizabeth about your cover…WOW! :o)

  3. Any who know me won’t be surprised by my guess. 🙂
    Ancient Aliens. There are many Native American tales that could relate to extra-terrestrial visitors.

    Or, they could have been intra-terrestrials–from inside this planet.

    Okay, I’ll go back to my hidey-hole. 😀

    Your three generations are precious!

  4. Gorgeous family!!

    I’ve never heard of this mysterious group of healers.

    Possibly people who came over from the USSR and then down from territorial Alaska via the Pacific Ocean.

    Or possibly natives from Vancouver Island or Southwestern Canada (British Columbia) who ventured west and ended up south washed up on the shores of southern Oregon or northern California.

  5. Hi, Kay! Thank you for the beautiful photo of your family : )

    Once again, you have presented us with a fascinating topic–one that turned on my researcher mode. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica: “Head flattening was practiced by a number of North, Central, and South American Indian tribes, particularly before European colonization. Early peoples, hunters and gatherers with no knowledge of agriculture, gradually worked their way across the Bering Strait in pursuit of food and meandered over North and South America in small, migratory bands for thousands of years.”

  6. Interesting facts as always Karen… There are so many differnet tribes of Indians, and there history is so fasinating…

    Lovely family you have…that little grandbaby is a sweetheart..
    I think it was somebody’s birthday.. yours maybe????

  7. Hi Karen, congratulations on your new grandbaby.

    What a fun post! I love mysteries. Not all Asians have epicanthal folds around the eyes. My daughter in law is from Okinawa and she doesn’t have them. She’s also small and fine-featured. So my guess is that the mystery people came from somewhere in East Asia.

  8. I have never heard of head flattening. I have heard that in ancient Egypt some heads were more cone-shaped. I like all the places mentioned above – including Lizzie’s idea. I’ll say that the head flattening could have come from seeing ancient aliens a long time before coming to the northwest from any of the places mentioned above 🙂 Love that cover!

  9. I wonder if they could have come from Russia. Or could they have been Vikings? We think of Vikings as the helmets with horns and things like that, but if they’d come a terrible long way–and faced hardship–they might have lost their more ethnically revealing clothes, tools and weapons and begun living off the land, much like native people.
    And they could have followed the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and come from the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Pacific. Exploring the path Lewis and Clark would take later.

    It’s fun to speculate.
    Great post. Love the last picture.

  10. Hi Kirsten!

    Sorry for being here so late today — had to take my car in for repair (and I live on the West coast) and the traffic was a nightmare…

    I think your guess is good. It’s about the only thing I could think of — was some party from the Islands. 🙂

  11. Gotta love a mystery, but I prefer knowing the answer at the end… I have no idea who to guess they were… very interesting…

  12. Hi Lizzie!

    Okay, so just so you know, I don’t think that’s off the wall at all. I do believe we are amidst aliens — and I think of all different kinds of races. Think of it — this planet is on the rim of this galaxy — perhaps there’s aliens from this galaxy — but we’re so close to other galaxies that there could be many different factions of aliens — and from inside the core, too.

    Have you ever seen the Phil — can’t think of his last name — who work on underground projects for the government and he talks about the aliens — and wars with them — he also said he would be killed for telling this — and so he was.

    Then there’s an old friend of mine (who was an older gentleman when I was very young) who used to work for NASA — who told me twice about the aliens that he worked with. Unfortunately for me at the time I was too young to ask questions. Of course now I can think of many, many questions that I didn’t ask.

    Then there’s the friend of mine who knew and had talked to Neil Armstrong, who in turn told him about the buildings on the dark side of the moon. These are all people who knew these creatures first hand. And if you’ve ever read Jim Marrs, I believe and agree with him that aliens are behind the “depopulation” schemes that are running amuck on this planet.

    I could go on and on — I, too, believe that we are visited. However, another older friend of mine told me once that if you ever see a space ship, never make the mistake of believing they are friends. He said that this planet is off limits and anyone from anywhere else who is here, is therefore criminal — they are not your friends — and in this world gone criminal — it would appear that these creatures have their hooks into those in power on this planet — or they are the creatures themselves. Who knows?

    Have you ever read Jim Marrs?

  13. Hi Laurie G.!

    I had thought the same thing about the USSR, but the USSR people are mostly white and the mongrels might be these people, but they are not small in stature or have the fine features that the people talk about (fine meaning small, not overly big). I do believe it could’ve been some people from the islands — but I’m not sure because why would they then tell them not to do the hot baths and plunge into water. That sounds more like a white-man’s line…

    But knowledge of the herbs and such really does seem to me to be perhaps someone of the islands — or maybe like Lizzie thinks — aliens stranded here.

    Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought!

  14. Hi Virginia!

    Interesting isn’t it? Then there’s also the viewpoint held by the Crow and some other tribes, that they were always here — that they didn’t migrate from anywhere. That’s not true, by the way, of many of the tribes, who can trace their migrations — but it’s really, really interesting. Another interesting thing is that within the Blackfeet tribe, there are definite similarities between this tribe and the mongrels of the plains of Russia. Their headdress is the same or similar and similar beliefs, also — and the Blackfeet are traditionally a patriarcial society, whereas most Native American tribes were matriarcial (please excuse my spelling). I love the research, and thank you!

    🙂 Also, nice to hear from you!

  15. Hi Kathleen!

    Thanks so much for your so welcome compliments. No one’s birthday — we were celebrating my daughter being here on the West coast. She lives on the East Coast and so we don’t often get together — and now that I have a grandbaby that far away — it seems farther and farther each month… 🙂

  16. Hi Margaret!

    Thanks so much. I think you could be right — it was my first guess at first and it was the eyes and skin color that set me away from that conclusion. But it definitely would’ve been my first guess. 🙂 And thanks for your compliments!

  17. Hi Catslady!

    What a good guess. I hadn’t thought of that before, but what better guess could there be for such a custom — seeing the heads of aliens and imitating them — especially if those aliens were looked upon as gods. 🙂

  18. Hi Joye!

    I think that’s a good guess! I hadn’t thought of the Hawaian Islands, but that’s right, it really could’ve been those Islands — they are certainly closer than India or Malaysia. 🙂

  19. Hi Mary!

    I think you’re right on on the Vikings — or perhaps Scottish people, sailing down the Missouri — it’s evident that someone did because when Catlin came West he ran across the Mandan Indians who had originally two different villages on the Missouri River and was the trader of choice before the white man came. Those “Indians” had gray and blue eyes and many of the young people had white hair even as young lasses and laddies. The reason I say Scotland is that Scotland has many who gray early and Scotland also has documents of one of their princes being “lost” in the Americas.

    But I ruled this out because of the color of the skin and their small stature — Scotsmen and/or Vikings are not necessarily small in statue.

    Another thought I’d had was perhaps the Italians — but we would’ve had written word of them being in this area at this time in history and we don’t — so I ruled that out also.

    But your speculation of Vikings isn’t far off the mark — as someone was there on the Missouri — interestingly it happened so long ago in their past that when Catlin went amongst them, they had no idea why so many of them had blue/green eyes and the gray hair. Interesting…

  20. Hi Colleen!

    And I wish I could give you an answer at the end, but I can’t. It’s all speculation on my part — if only because those people left no written or oral record of who they were. Shame…

  21. That is a mystery. Is that where Flathead Lake got its name, from those people? I’m wondering how they went about flattening their heads. hmmmm Could they have been from Japan?

  22. Hi Jackie W!

    Yes, that is how Flathead Lake got its name — I think they flattened their heads from birth so that their heads were naturally bent in that direction. I thought of Japan, also, but again, nothing is mentioned about their eyes and of course the color of skin would be different, also.

    Interesting, huh? 🙂

  23. I read once upon a time about a migration theory
    in regards to the population of North America.
    These peoples supposedly came from Asia and then
    filtered down into Mexico, Central, and South America. Maybe? Who knows!

    BTW, thanks for my Adam Beach fix!!

    Pat C.

  24. Three generations of lovely ladies. Your grand baby is a sweetheart. There is no doubt you and your daughters are related, not to mention that you must have been a child bride.

    I checked around trying to find a tie-in with their language, but didn’t have any luck. Asia is a possibility as is Polynesia. The later were excellent sailors and often took their families with them when going from island to island. I didn’t find any specifics on tribes that had flat heads. My social geography and anthropology classes were over 40 years ago so the info is a bit foggy.

    Enjoyed the post. Have a good week.

  25. Intriguing post Kay! Like you I bet they were from India its about all I can come up with. An India indian would be smaller but would still have a little darker skin. Thanks for the great pic of your family and by the way you all look a like.

  26. Hi Pat!

    You made me smile(over the picture of Adam Beach) — I love it, too — obviously.

    I’ve read that, too, but I’m not sure I agree with it — I’ve read so much on how these things were populated — so many different theories. But I’ve read what you say, also. 🙂

  27. Hi Patricia!

    I, too, think it was Polynesian — the flat heads were the Indians on the coast, whom they married, but they, themselves, didn’t flatten their heads. Because they had lived with the tribes for so long, they took wives from that tribe.

    I do think it must’ve been Polynesian of some kind. 🙂

    Thanks so much for the compliments on the family — and child bride. 🙂

  28. Hi Quilt Lady!

    I, too, thought of India Indian — although perhaps Polynesian might be another source — I think one or the other. Again, the skin color would be similar and the features more fine. It’s interesting to guess. I wish they had left word of where they were from. 🙂

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