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Paiute Legends of the Si-Te-Cah or Red Haired Giants

Ancient Tales of Giants: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Paiute and Choctaw Legends 

In the shadowed recesses of history, where folklore intertwines with the mystique of the natural world, lie the captivating legends of the Paiute and Choctaw tribes. These tales are passed down through generations. Furthermore, they speak of encounters with beings of colossal stature and mysterious origins. These beings are called the Si-Te-Cah or red haired giants.  Without a doubt offering a tantalizing glimpse into a world where myth and reality converge.

Artist rendition of the Paiute tribe standing in front of Lovelock CaveThe Red-Haired Giants of the Paiute: A Terrifying Presence

Enter the vast expanses of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, home to the Paiute tribe. Tales echo with whispers of the Si-Te-Cah – the red-haired giants of yore. Described as formidable beings with a fearsome appetite for human flesh. Consequently,  these giants have long been etched into Paiute folklore. As the tales go, these cannibalistic giants terrorized the Paiute. Unfortunately leading to a prolonged and bloody conflict.

The climax of this epic saga unfolded within the cavernous depths of Lovelock Cave. Thia is where the Paiute, in a desperate bid for survival, cornered these gargantuan adversaries. The cave, a silent witness to this ancient battle, is said to have become the final resting place of the Si-Te-Cah. The location where they are either entombed within its rocky embrace or pursued to their doom upon fleeing.

This legend, more than just a tale of warfare, is grounded in archaeological findings. In the early 20th century, explorers unearthed mummified remains and intriguing artifacts in Lovelock Cave. Following this, reigniting interest in the Paiute’s tales and blurring the lines between myth and historical possibility.

Conflict and Warfare

The tales describe the Si-Te-Cah as aggressive and formidable adversaries. This led to a significant and prolonged conflict, with the Paiutes and other allied tribes engaging in a bitter struggle against these giants.

A representation of a Si-te-Cah giant as described by the Paiute tribe

The Final Confrontation

The culmination of this legendary war was dramatic. The Paiutes, combining forces with other tribes, managed to corner the giants in Lovelock Cave. The battle that ensued was fierce, resulting in the death of most giants within the cave. Those who escaped met their end at the hands of the relentless Paiute warriors.

Archaeological Evidence

Adding a layer of mystery and intrigue, the discovery of mummified remains and artifacts in Lovelock Cave in 1911 and 1924 provided a tangible link to these ancient legends. These findings sparked debate and curiosity about the historical truth behind the Paiute folklore.

The Choctaw’s Underground Odyssey: Battle Against the Giants

Journeying east to the lands of the Mississippi, the Choctaw tribe harbors its own enigmatic legend. Their ancestral narratives speak of Nanih Waiya Cave Mound. In fact, a portal to an ancient underground world from which their forebears emerged. This subterranean realm, shrouded in mystery, is more than just an origin story. It’s a testament to the tribe’s resilience and indomitable spirit.

Encounter with red haired giants

The Choctaw recount formidable encounters with white-skinned, red- and blond-haired giants. The lore speaks of out of place invaders, armed and ruthless. Then, they forced the Choctaw ancestors into a prolonged struggle for their homeland. It was a conflict that called for cunning and bravery. Ultimately, the Choctaw prevailed through the ingenious use of poison-tipped darts. A toxin they derived from the caverns’ natural resources.

Nanih Waiya, a sacred and slightly feared mound, is believed to be the entrance to a vast, interconnected underground network. It’s a place revered by the Choctaw, a reminder of their deep connection to the earth and its hidden mysteries.

Who were the red haired giants?

Legend and Description

The Si-Te-Cah, as per Paiute oral traditions, were a race of red-haired, white giants, often portrayed as cannibals. This formidable group is said to have lived in the Nevada area prior to the arrival of the Paiutes’ ancestors. The name “Si-Te-Cah” translates to “tule-eaters,” which is derived from their reported diet of the tule plant found in local marshes. To evade conflicts with the Paiutes, they are said to have lived on rafts constructed from tule on Lake Humboldt​​​​​​.

Cultural Significance

According to Paiute legend, detailed by Sarah Winnemucca, daughter of Paiute Chief Winnemucca, the Si-Te-Cah were considered a small tribe of barbarians . They preyed upon her people. Following their eventual defeat by the Paiutes, the term “Say-do-carah” was coined. It means “conqueror” or “enemy.” Winnemucca also mentioned possessing a dress adorned with the red hair of the Si-Te-Cah, signifying its importance in Paiute history. The exact timeframe of these events varies in oral accounts, spanning from several centuries to a few generations ago​​.

Archaeological Discoveries

In 1911, significant archaeological findings emerged from Lovelock Cave in Nevada. This is where miners uncovered mummified remains and artifacts under guano deposits. Among these findings was a notably tall mummified body with distinct red hair. Some of the artifacts and remains were unfortunately lost or damaged due to the mining activities. A fact that is unfortunately so often the case when it comes to giants. These discoveries have provided tangible evidence that lends weight to the Paiute legends. The presence of red hair, particularly on a notably tall individual, has added to the intrigue surrounding the legend of the Si-Te-Cah​​​​.


These elements of Paiute folklore and corresponding archaeological findings create a rich and mysterious body of evidence. Definitely continuing to captivate and intrigue. The legends of the Si-Te-Cah, with their elements of conflict, survival, and unique cultural practices, remain an integral part of the Paiute historical narrative. Indeed, it still illustrates the depth and complexity of Native American oral traditions.

Books about red haired giants or Si-Te-Cah

Several books have been written about this persistent and in our opinion to a certain extent corroborated myth. Here is an overview of books about red haired giants in America on  Amazon.com:

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