Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HAIKUTWOTOPEH: OLD MAN OF THE NORTH/ A Concow Maidu Legend/ FIGURATIVE ABSTRACTION/ The Story of How Gaming is Sacred Among the Maidu/ THE GRASS GAME/ A figurative pictographic abstraction by Eric Whollem/ A mixed media resist that interprets prehistoric Native American rock art in light of contemporary art

Haikutwotopeh: Old Man of the North
by Eric Whollem
mixed media on paper
Collection of the artist
9" x 6"
copyright by the artist

How the People Were Held Captive by Haikutwotopeh

According to Concow Maidu legend the People were gambled away
to the Old Man of the North who lived near Mt. Shasta. This happened
long, long ago. In traditional gambling among Native Americans any sort of
material goods are placed up in betting. The gambling away of one's own
relatives is another matter. . . The story of how the People were reclaimed
is related below. . .

Gambling among the Maidu is referred to as the Grass Game. It is played by
two teams who oppose each other, each first putting forth bets. Two bones
are held in a peron's hands. One bone has a black stripe down the middle to
differentiate it from the other bone. The singers on the opposite team sing
their gambling songs, meanwhile trying to guess which bone is in which hand
of the person concealing them.

A culture hero, Oankoitupeh, gambled with Haikutwotopeh, the Old Man
of the North, and won the People back. After this betting on one's relatives
was forbidden among the Maidu. It had caused extreme grief to the People
to have lost relatives in gaming.
Today the People live in Butte County, California, hundreds of miles to the
south of Shasta. But many of their old legends concern places like Weludih
near the Trinity River. The Cato Indians of the Coast Range are cousins of
the Maidu and share common cultural elements, such as the story of Woctolly,
the salmon merman. The Cato use the same phrase of greeting as the Concow:

The triangular forms in the above drawing represent the Mt. Shasta area, or
the Trinity Alps. My painting is done in a pictographic style, based on my
studies of the Rock Art of early California. The Maidu are known to have
left a number of engravings in stone, but they never seem to have practiced
the art of painting on stone as done by Indians like the Modoc and the

Gambling is considered sacred today, largely because Oankoitupeh won the
People back in his contest with Haikutwotopeh. The Grass Game brings the
People together. It is 'just a game' according to Martin of Berry Creek,
California. But it is a symbol of unity.


See my gallery of Abstract Art on this link:

Readers interested in my posts on the Maidu should view:

Those interesest in my posts of Maidu Faux Postage Stamps can find them here:


Abstract art.
Maidu Indians.
Mixed media painting.
Pictographs and petroglyphs.
Abstract figure painting
Contemporary painting


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