In fact, red-haired enemies feature in local Indian legends - or what were thought legends until the discovery of the Lovelock mummies. (The locals Indians are the Paiutes, the same ones who object to the scientific investigation of the Spirit Cave Mummy). According to these legends, the red haired enemies centered on these tall troublemakers whom they called the "Si-Te-Cah."
Significantly, the name Si-Te-Cah means "tule eaters" - tule being the fibrous reed which is the base material of the mats in which the Spirit Cave Mummy was buried. Tule is no longer found in the region and was likely imported along with the people who used it.
According to the Paiute, the red-haired peoples were warlike, and a number of the Indian tribes joined together in a long war against them. According to the Indian legend, after a long struggle, a coalition of Indian tribes trapped the remaining Si-Te-Cah in what is now called Lovelock Cave. When they refused to come out, the Indians piled brush before the cave mouth and set it aflame. The Si-Te-Cah were incinerated.
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of Paiute Chief Winnemucca, related many stories about the Si-Te-Cah in her book "Life Among the Paiutes."
On page 75, she relates: "My people say that the tribe we exterminated had reddish hair. I have some of their hair, which has been handed down from father to son. I have a dress which has been in our family a great many years, trimmed with the reddish hair. I am going to wear it some time when I lecture. It is called a mourning dress, and no one has such a dress but my family."
In 1931, further skeletons were discovered in the Humboldt Lake bed. Eight years later, a mystery skeleton was unearthed on a ranch in the region. In each case, the skeletons were exceptionally tall - much taller than the surrounding Amerinds.
There is a small display on the Si-Te-Cah in the Lovelock museum today, but it ignores the evidence which indicates that the Si-Te-Cah were not Amerinds. The Nevada State Historical Society also displays some artifacts from the cave.
The Nevada State Museum went public with its findings on the Spirit Cave Mummy in 1996. Immediately the issue sparked a furor, with the American Indians demanding that the corpse be reburied in accordance with tribal custom - falsely claiming the Spirit Cave Mummy as one of their own.
The Amerind tribe involved, the Paiutes, laid claim to the corpse under an American law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, which allows for the return and reburial of bodies of "Native Americans".
An extended legal dispute arose over the issue of to whom the corpse actually belongs. As part of the legal wrangling, the Paiute have consistently refused to allow DNA testing of the corpse.
This is not the only case where American Indians have blocked the study of obviously non-Amerind remains. Another case, that of Kennewick Man was similarly held up by Indian objections; and in 1993 another skeleton was found near Buhl in the state of Idaho.