Silver Mound Cave
retold by Richard L. Dieterle
This has been described as "A small cave or rockshelter at the head of a small valley at Silver Mound, the well known site of preistoric and early Indian quartzite near Black River Falls in Jackson County [Wisconsin]."1 A map of Silver Mound by Charles E. Brown can be seen below:
Silver Mount Cave was the den of a giant wildcat who was the guardian spirit of the silver believed to be entombed within the hill. Only on rare occasions was the wildcat ever seen, but many had seen his huge footprints in the winter snow.2
Commentary. D. M. Brown tells us, "From another mound, at a safe distance from Silver Mound, the French trader and explorer, Pierre Charles LeSuer ... hunting for mineral sources, is supposed to have watched hostile Indians, bearing away from Silver Mound, bags containing what he thought from its glitter, to be silver ore. These Indian mines he is supposed to have later returned to explore with a group of miners whom he brought from France." This is the mound where "white men have for many, many years fruitlessly dug and quarried."3
Stories: in which wildcats (bobcats) are characters: Hare Kills Wildcat, The Choke Cherry Wild Cat, The Chief of the Heroka, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather; mentioning silver: The Spanish Fight, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Tavern Visit, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, see also Chief's Medallion; mentioning caves: Big Eagle Cave Mystery, Blue Mounds Cave, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Woman Who Married a Snake, Little Human Head, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds; mentioning snow: Waruǧápara, The Glory of the Morning, Holy One and His Brother, Wolves and Humans, Grandfather's Two Families, The Four Steps of the Cougar, Redhorn's Father, The Old Man and the Giants, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Great Walker's Warpath, White Wolf, North Shakes His Gourd, The Fleetfooted Man, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, Witches, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, The Raccoon Coat, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married.
Themes: a powerful spirit lives in a cave: Big Eagle Cave Mystery, Blue Mounds Cave, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Woman Who Married a Snake, Little Human Head, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds.
1 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Indian Legends of Historic and Scenic Wisconsin, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1947) 45.
2 D. M. Brown, Indian Legends, 45-46.
3 D. M. Brown, Indian Legends, 46.