You don’t mess with red-haired cannibals. And you definitely don’t cross the people who beat them at war. Could that be why the Lovelock Paiutes told newcomers to the Silver State about Si-Te-Ca?
Like hungry giants the white settlers longed to eat up the earth.
The Paiutes called the giants Si-Te-Ca, tule eaters. According to legend, red hair sprouted from every pore of their bodies. They stood up to 12 feet tall. Thousands of years ago, it's said they cannibalized the tribes of Lake Lahontan, the ancient waters that covered northern Nevada during the last ice age.
The giants made rafts out of tule. They lived along the shore, always ready to fight or flee.
To escape Paiute arrows, the Si-Te-Ca navigated the lake. Understandably, the Paiutes did not want to be dinner. Neither did the other tribes in the area.
That’s why, after many years of warfare, the tribes banded together to stomp out Si-Te-Ca. Warriors hunted down the giants. Finally, the tribes chased the stragglers into a cave and dared them to come out and fight. The Si-Te-Ca refused.
The tribes stuffed the cave’s entrance with brush and setting the tinder ablaze.
“Will you give up and not eat people?” they asked the giants.
Those giants that ran from the cave fell, their hides pierced with arrows; their blood staining the water crimson. The rest suffocated as fire ate up their oxygen. The race of cannibals perished from the earth. And the earth got along just fine.
Sarah Winnemucca owned a dress trimmed with a fallen cannibal’s red hair. She wrote about the trophy
in her autobiography, Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1883).
“I have a dress which has been in our family a great many years, trimmed with reddish hair,” she wrote. “I am going to wear it sometime when I lecture. It is called a mourning dress, and no one has such a dress but my family.”
The Paiutes sealed the mouth to the cave. Later, an earthquake shut it tighter than a drum. Over the years layers of bat guano sealed the cave’s secrets.
In 1886 the Lovelock Paiutes directed a mining engineer, John T. Reid, to the site. News spread. Entrepreneurs hungered for profits from the bat dung. David Hugh and James Hart shipped 250 tons to a fertilizer compound in San Francisco.
Some say Hugh and Hart also squirreled away a few red haired mummies ranging from six to eight feet tall. A local fraternal lodge may have boiled a mummy for its initiation rites.
The first official excavations took place in 1912 and 1924, amid developing scientific standards and limited technology. Archaeologists retrieved 10,000 Paiute artifacts including the tule duck decoys. Near the mouth of the cave they found human bones, split to extract the marrow. Did they also unearth the mummified remains of several red-haired giants, 8 to 10 feet tall? Some say yes.
They photographed a 15-inch sandle made from plant fiber and showing signs of wear. Most tantalizingly, people spoke of a huge handprint embedded on a boulder deep in the cave.
Some, convinced the giants lived, focus their concern elsewhere.
Are they truly gone?
Tom Biscardi, 71, has doubts. Visitors to the Lovelock Cave have recently seen “large human-like footprints in the dirt,” says the film producer.
Biscardi has chased tougher customers than Si Te Ca, including Bigfoot and the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp. They’re no match for the Real Bigfoot Hunter.
Some segments of the public eat up Biscardi’s documentaries like hungry giants. The Pocono Mountain Film Festival awarded “Bigfoot Lives” the best documentary of 2007. He’s been hunting monsters from Alabama to the Florida Everglades for decades. Now it’s Lovelock’s turn.
“The locals are scared and reached out to the one investigator who has multiple documented encounters with similar creatures for assistance,” he says. Biscardi has assembled a team to investigate the area and determine if cannibals still walk among us.
According to Biscardi’s press release he’ll deploy his extraction team this summer “and will stay at the Lovelock Cave until he gets answers for the people who contacted him.”
He invites all interested parties to contact his team email@example.com