J is a freshman at USC, and a good friend of mine. He is from Mercer Island, Washington, a town within the Seattle metropolitan area. The island lies between Seattle and Bellevue.
“So I lived on an island (Mercer island), and it was surrounded by this big lake, and past the lake, it’s surrounded on two sides – one side by Seattle and the other by Bellevue, and there used to be this legend that the Native American people that used to live on our island would see in the morning – there was a lot of fog, right – and so they couldn’t see through to bellevue on the other side. But in the afternoon, when the fog cleared, they could see the land on the other side. So it was said that they used to believe that the island would rise up out of the water during the day and sink under the water during the night. My grandpa lived right on the lake, and I used to visit him a lot, and so he would tell me that story a lot of times when I was a kid, and one time when I was working at Subway just before I moved here to Los Angeles, there was a guy that came in who said the same thing. As a kid, when I was at my grandparents’ house, I would not see the land in the morning and then see it in the afternoon, and I thought maybe that it was true. I think it’s kind of cool to think about – when you’re a kid, you don’t know that Bellevue – that a city is a city, like you see a city landscape, like “oh those are things,” but you don’t really think about there are people there, so when I was a kid I just thought it was a landmass, and it was a really cool idea that it would sink and rise and it was just part of nature, and I guess I still like to think of it that way, so it’s kind of nice to think of nature as something unaffected by other people.”
The ways urban legends tend to grow out of a mystical view of indigenous people almost seems like a way to detach oneself from superstition. Especially in more modern and developed areas, there is a strong societal detachment from what is considered spiritual or legendary. In this sense, while modern, non-indigenous people may still believe in this story or be able to perceive it, it is much easier to apply that culturally to an indigenous group much more associated with ideas of spiritualism and natural phenomena. Yet the story regarding those previous folk who believed this still persists, striking a narrative about previously held beliefs that then affect the perceptions by those who currently interpret it. In a sense, this is folklore about folklore.