Arch Rock

A Tradition Tale From Curry County Echoes: Volumn 1 1973-1974

Arch Rock is located approximately thirteen miles south of Gold Beach and one quarter miles from shore. Its prominence has made it a hallmark of Curry County, and it appears on the letterhead and on contemporary county stationery.

The Tolowa Indian tribe in Northern California and southern Oregon used Arch Rock for many of their celebrations. Some of their dances began on the mainland and ended out on the rock.

Coyote plays an important part in many Indian legends. He taught ingenuity, craft and pride, and explained the unexplainable.

COYOTE, BEAVER, BEAR, PANTHER, RACCOON and all the animals joined the People at an important dance. When the sun lay down to sleep, canoes carried everyone to the rock where they continued to dance. As they danced, they sang, except for Coyote, who couldn’t sing and wouldn’t try. The others began to chide him, but being very smart, he quickly went and found two crickets and fastened them behind his ears.


He returned to the group and began to dance, and as he danced, he grew warm. The heat of his body made the crickets sing. The warmer he grew, the more the crickets sang. Coyote begin to perspire, and the cricket’s voices sang louder than all the rest.

The people grew suspicious and appointed two girls to watch him. They noticed Coyote never opened his mouth, and realized he wasn’t singing at all. So they told Coyote they were tired and wanted to sleep.

They built a fire and arranged a comfortable place for Coyote to lie down. The girls watched from a short distance. The fire warmed the crickets again, and they sang loudly for an hour. Coyote couldn’t get to sleep until the fire died down, but the crickets were finally still, and Coyote fell into a sound sleep.

Then the girls understood the trick. They took the crickets from his ears and showed the people, who decided to punish him for his deception. They took all the canoes back to the mainland and left him alone to starve.

When Coyote woke up in the morning and saw everyone eating breakfast on the mainland, he looked everywhere but found no canoe. So he gathered a basket of mussels and threw them one after another into the water, making magic as he did so. Each mussel grew immediately into a small island. Coyote stepped easily from one island to the next and returned safely to shore. That is how all the little islands came to be lined up between Arch Rock and Crook’s Point on the mainland. They are still just where Coyote left them.