Index of Mind: The Primitives Tail’s



Fairbanks, Alaska. Sept. 3.- Dr. Froellch G. Rainey, University of Alaska anthropologist, who went hunting traces of cannibals with tails this summer, came home with a handful of flint and obsidian tools.

But he said, he considers the bits of stone artifacts of prime importance and the tales of tailed-men as, perhaps, only tales.

He and his American museum of history aides found the primitive tools in a series of excavations on the site of an old Indian village on Mansfield creek, Tanna crossing district.

Doctor Rainey, former Yale man, who has done research in Haiti and the Philippines, first encountered the legend of the tailed men at the old Indian settlement, Batzulntas, on the Nabesna road.

“Chief Charley informed us strange, man-like being called Teet-Tin lived in ancient times, in holes in the ground, and that they wore no clothes and had tails.

“For some time these creatures captured lone Indians, killed and ate them, but eventually the Indians, taking them by surprise, burned them all in their holes.

In proof, we were shown some 80 dugouts on the bank of an old stream bed about half a mile from Batxulnetas. These dugouts are small- some no larger than four by six feet- and it may be that they are old fish caches. Others are big enough to have been small subterranean houses.

“It is possible that this is a very ancient village. Large spruce trees now grow over the site. A series of test pits exposed charcoal ashes but no refuse or implements. The site is large and extensive excavations will be necessary to determine the significance.

Rainey’s party then followed the tale of tails 50 miles below Nabesna up the Tetlin river to Tetlin village. There, Rainey said, Chief Peter related that Teet-tin, men with tails, once lived in that vicinity, but no definite traces could be discovered so the scientists moved on to Tanana crossing and up to an old village site on Mansfield creek where excavations uncovered the flint artifacts.

“The persistence of the Teet-tin legend may be significant, ” he told interviewers. Stories of people with tails are common among primitive peoples. Sir John Mandeville recorded a similar story in Central Asia, and it has been recorded amongst the Eskimo.

“It has been explained by the fact some arctic peoples wore parkas with a long tail or shirt down the back which gave rise to the idea that these covered actual tales. Whatever the significance of the legend, the fact remains that flint and obsidian implements are found along the Tanana, and are said to have been used by the ancestors of the present Indians.


Eugene Register-Guard, Sep.3, 1936

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