By Dennis Cassinelli
I can tell that the stories of trivia about Legends of Spirit Cave will take up more than one of my weekly articles, this will be Part 1 of perhaps several.
Ever since I wrote my Prehistoric novel, Legends of Spirit Cave, readers of the book have often asked me where I came up with the names I used in the novel, such as place names and names of characters In the book. In this article, I will tell how I came up with the names, starting with the cover page illustration and continuing through the book, Starting on Page 17.
The cover page is a photo of Smoke Cave located in the Grimes Point area near where where Spirit Cave is located. The main character in the book is Turtle Who fights, similar to Dances With Wolves from the Movie of the same name. The Black Island Marsh is now known as the Black Rock Desert, since the marsh dried up following the Pleistocene era about 10,000 years ago.
Turtle’s Grandfather, Mauwee, was a hunting shaman who planned the attack to kill the last mammoth so the people of the clan could have food to survive the coming winter. I selected the name Mauwee after a Paiute man who worked on our ranch when I was a boy. He taught me many things about the Paiute people. In the story, he will eventually become the Spirit Cave Man.
On page 19, I tell about the mammoth blade, which was the weapon used to kill the mammoth. I show a drawing of one I have which is now known as a Clovis Point that was used to kill mammoths. The mammoth in the story was a Columbian Mammoth. At the Nevada State Museum is a skeleton of one of these creatures that had been trapped bogged down in the marsh like the one in my story.
I introduce a shaman in the story named Yellow Eyes who befriends Turtle who fights. I selected the name Yellow Eyes for this person since there was a man I knew at the Stewart Indian Museum in Carson City by that name. When the hunting party came to Gerlach to bathe in the hot spring pools, they met an interesting character there named Bruno. This was the name of Bruno Selmi, who lived and operated a business at Gerlach in modern times.
On page 38, I tell about a small young puppy named Drifter. I had such a small white dog I named Drifter several years ago. Like the dog in the story, my Drifter was a brave little guy who once jumped out the window of my truck to attack a much larger dog when it was chasing us. Later in the story, Drifter attacks a bear.
On page 39, I tell the story about Turtle Who Fights stumbling across an ancient skeleton of a prehistoric horse he saw at night glowing in the dark due to phosphorescence in the bones. In the Nevada State Museum near the mammoth skeleton is also a skeleton of a prehistoric horse such as the one Turtle saw. Prehistoric horses became extinct and modern horses were introduced by the Spanish during the Conquest.
My grandmother was married to a man named Jack Frink. In my book, I tell about the prehistoric horses. One of these horses grabbed the hair of Jack Frink and tore his scalp off. This also happened to the Jack Frink who was married to my Grandmother when he was a boy, so I incorporated it into my book.
When the clan of travelers make their way to Pyramid Lake, several other characters appear in the story. On page 44, I introduce two shamans from the Pyramid Lake encampment. One of these was a very wise shaman named Akovow. This shaman was named after a real shaman from Nevada named Wovoka, Akovow spelled backwards. The other shaman is named Draziwa which is a wizard spelled backwards.
This article is by Dayton Author and Historian, Dennis Cassinelli. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at  Just click on ”order books”