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Smokyriversongs' Look At Indian Life And The Lore
Salish - Snohomish













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Salish Indian Lore:

 

The Fish-Man

Somewhere near the mouth of the Fraser River lived a girl who had refused all suitors.

After awhile a man came to visit her, and lay with her at night.

The said to him, "You must stay until daylight, and show yourself to my parents."

he answered, "No, I am too poor. Your people would not like me."

As he continued to come every night, the girl told her parents, and they were very angry.

 

Then the Fish-Man caused the sea to recede for many miles from the village. He let all the freshwater streams dry up, and no rain fell. The animals became thirsty, and left the country.

The people could not get any fish, nor game, nor water to drink.

The girl told the people, "My lover has done this, because you refused him.

So the people made long walk planks, over the mud to the edge of the sea. At the end of this they built a large platform, which they covered with mats. They heaped many blankets on it. Then they dressed the girl in a fine robe, combed an oiled her hair, painted her face, and put down on her head. Then they placed her on the top of the blankets and left her there.

At once the sky became overcast, rain fell, the springs burst out, the streams ran, and the sea came in. The people watched until the sea rose and floated the planform. They saw a man climb up beside the girl.

They stood up; and the girl called, "Now all is well. I shall visit you soon."

Night came on, and they saw them no more. In two days she came back, and told the people, "I live below the sea, in the fish country. The lodges there are just the same as here, and the people live in th same way."

She returned again with her husband, bringing gifts of fish. She said, "Henceforth people here shall always be able to catch plenty of fish."

Once more she came to show them her newly born child. After that she returned to the sea, and was never seen again.

 

 

 

 

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The Great Flood

Long before missionaries ever arrived in the New World, the Indians had ancient legends of the great flood, similar to that of Noah. This is one of them.

in ancient times, there were so many people in the land that they lived everywhere. Soon hunting became bad and food scarce, so that the people quarreled over hunting territories.

even in those days, the people were skilled in making fine canoes and paddles from ceder, and clothing and baskets from the bark. In dreams their wise old men could see the future, and there came a time when they all had similar bad dreams that kept coming to them over and over again.

The dreams warned of a great flood. This troubled the wise men who told each other about their dreams. they found that they had all dreamed that rain fell for such a long time, or that the river rose, causing a great flood so that all the people were drowned.

The were very afraid and called a council to hear their dreams and decide what should be done. One said that they should build a great raft by tying all the canoes together. Some agreed, but others laughed at the old men and their dreams.

The people who believed in the dreams worked hard building the raft. It took many moons of hard work, lashing huge ceder canoes together with strong ropes made of ceder bark. When it was completed, they tied the raft with a great rope to the top of the mountain by passing one end of the rope through the center of a huge stone.

during the time the people were working on the raft, those who did not believe in the dreams were idle and still laughed, but they did admire the fine, solid raft when at last finished.

Soon after the raft was ready, huge raindrops started falling, river overflowed, and the valleys were flooded.

Those who believed in he dreams took food to the raft and they and their families climbed into it as the water rose.

They lived on the raft for many days and could see nothing but water. Even the mountain tops had disappeared beneath the flood and they prayed for help. Nothing happened for a long time; then the rain stopped.

the waters began to go down after a time, and finally the raft was grounded on top of the mountain. The huge stone anchor and heavy rope had held it safe. As the water gradually sank lower and lower, the people could see land, but their homes had all been swept away. The valleys and forests had been destroyed. The people went back to their old land and started to rebuild their homes.

After a long time the number of people increased, until once again the land was filled and the people started to quarrel again, This time they separated into tribes and clans, all going to different places.

The Storytellers say this is how people spread out all over the earth.

 

 

 

 

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Sanpoils Indian Lore:

 

Coyote's Salmon

Long ago on the Sanpoil River that flows southward into the Columbia River, Old Man and old Woman lived with their tribe, the Sanpoils. They were so stooped that it appeared they were walking on their knees and their elbows. Their very pretty granddaughter lived with them.

One day Coyote came along and saw the old couple with the beautiful girl. Immediately, he decided that he wanted the girl for his wife. But he knew better than to ask for her then. He thought he would wait until evening. So during the day he sat around, becoming better acquainted with the family.

The old couple watched him, noting that his long hair was braided neatly and his forelock were carefully combed back. They noticed too that he was tall and strong. Old Man and Old Woman talked between themselves about Coyote, wondering if he could be a Chief.

In the late afternoon, Coyote asked Old Man, "What is that thing down in the stream?"

"Why, that is my fish trap," Old Man replied.

"A fish trap? What is that? What do you do with it?" asked Coyote, pretending he did not know.

"Oh, occasionally I catch a few bullhead and sunfish," Old Man said.

"Is that what you eat? I never heard of them. Are they big enough for a meal?" asked Coyote.

"They are not much, but what else can we eat?" replied Old Man.

"I think I will go up the hill and look around," said Coyote. It was then about an hour before sunset.

On top of the hill, Coyote saw some grouse roosting in a tree. He threw some stones at them, killing five. He carried the grouse back to Old Man and said, "Let's eat these for supper."

After removing the feathers, Old Man roasted the game over the fire and when they were done, everyone sat down to eat the wonderful meal. To Old Man and his family, it seemed like a feast.

"Is this the kind of food you eat every day?" the Old Man asked Coyote.

"Sometimes I eat berries, roots, and I catch some real big fish, as long as your arm," Coyote said.

Later, Coyote announced that he would like to stay there if they wanted him, otherwise he would move on.

"What do you mean?" asked Old Man.

"Well, it is like this. I would like to marry your granddaughter," said Coyote.

Old Man and Old Woman looked at each other but said nothing. Coyote went for a little walk to allow the old couple to talk privately.

While Coyote was gone Old Man said to his wife, "What do you think of this fellow? You saw what he did, bringing good food for our supper. If we let him marry our granddaughter, maybe they will stay here and we will have such good food always. Surely our girl will marry someone soon, perhaps some man not as good as this young fellow."

"Well, husband, I'll leave it entirely up to you."

Soon Coyote returned. He decided to let Old Man open the conversation. Old Man held his pipe in one hand and said, "How I wish I had a smoke. My tobacco ran out some time ago."

"Have some of mine," said Coyote, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a large bunch of tobacco and gave it to Old Man, who filled his pipe, feeling very much surprised that Coyote would have real tobacco.

After a while Old Man spoke, "My wife and I have talked over your proposal and she left the decision up to me. I have decided to let you marry our granddaughter and live here. If you go away, we want you to take her with you. How are we to know that you will do this?"

"You need not worry," said Coyote. "I am tired of traveling. I want to settle down here for the rest of my life, if you wish."

Old Man was pleased with Coyote and believed what he said. So Coyote took the pretty granddaughter for his wife.

Early that evening Coyote stayed with his wife and later said, "I am going out for a few minutes and when I return we will go to bed."

"All right," answered his wife.

Coyote went downstream to where Old Man had his fish trap. He changed it into a basket-type trap, piling rows of rocks to guide fish into the basket. When finished he called out, "Salmon, I want two of you in the basket trap tomorrow morning, one male and one female." Then he returned to his bride.

Next morning Coyote asked Old Man to go to his fish trap early. "I think I heard a noise in the night that sounded like fish caught in a trap," he said.

Old Man went downstream to see his fish trap. Sure enough, he saw two big fish in the trap. Old Man was so excited, he stumbled up the trail toward Coyote.

"You were right, there are two great fish in the trap bigger than I have ever seen," reported Old Man.

"You must be dreaming," said Coyote.

"Come down with me and see for yourself," Old Man said.

When the two reached the trap, Coyote exclaimed, "You are so right. These are salmon, chief among all fish. Let us take them over to that flat place, and I will show you what to do with them."

When they reached the open field, Coyote sent Old Man up the hill to gather sunflower stems and leaves.

"Those are salmon plants," Coyote explained. "Salmon must always be laid on sunflower stems and leaves."

Old Man spread the sunflower plants upon the ground. Coyote placed the salmon on them, and proceeded to show Old Man how to prepare the salmon.

"First, put a stick in the salmon's mouth and bend it back to break off the head. Second, place long sharp poles inside the salmon lengthwise to hold for roasting over your campfire," said Coyote.

"Now remember this," he continued. "The first week go down to the trap and take out the salmon every day. But when fixing it, never use a knife to cut it in any way. Always roast the fish over the fire on sticks, the way I have shown you. Never boil salmon the first week. After the salmon is roasted, open it carefully and take out the backbone without breaking it. Also, save the back part of the head for the sacred bundle-never eat that.

"If you do not do these things as I have told you, either a big storm will come up and you will be drowned, or you will be bitten by a rattlesnake and you will die.

"After you have taken out the salmon's backbone, wrap it and the back of the head carefully in tules, the marsh grasses, to make a sacred bundle, then place it somewhere in a tree, where it will not be bothered. If you do as I tell you, you will always have plenty of salmon in your trap.

"I am telling you these sacred things about the salmon because I am going to die sometime. I want you and your tribe to know of the best way to care for and use your salmon. After this, your men will always place their fish traps up and down the river to catch salmon. The man having the first trap will be Chief of the Salmon, and the others should always do anything he tells them to do.

"After the first week of the salmon season, you can boil your salmon or cook it any way you wish. But remember to always take care of the bones, wrapping them in a sacred bundle--never leaving them where they can be stepped upon or stepped over."

For the next few days each time Old Man went down to his fish trap in the morning, he found twice as many salmon as on the day before. Coyote showed him how to dry fish to prepare them for winter use. Before long they had a large scaffold covered with drying fish.

People of the Sanpoil tribe saw the fish and noticed how well Old Man and Old Woman were doing. They went to their Hogan's and told others about the big red fish called salmon, and about the tall young stranger who taught Old Man about caring for the salmon.

Soon thereafter, all the people came to see for themselves. Old Man and Old Woman invited them to feast on their roasted salmon. The old couple explained how their new grandson-in-law had shown them how to trap the salmon and dry them for winter food.

To this day, the Sanpoils say their tribe harvests the salmon in exactly the way that Coyote taught their ancestors long, long ago.

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Seminole Indian Lore:

 

Men Visit The Sky

Near the beginning of time, five Seminole Indian men wanted to visit the sky to see the Great Spirit.

They traveled east, walking for about a month. Finally, they arrived at Glands' End.

They tossed their belongings over the end, and they too, disappeared earths' edge.

Down went the Indians they dropped for awhile, before starting upward toward the sky. For a long time they traveled westward. At last, they came to a lodge an woman lived.

Tell me for whom are you looking?" she asked feebly.

"We are on our way to see the Great Spirit Above," they replied.

"It is not possible to see him now," you must stay here for awhile first."
That night the five Seminole Indian men strolled a little distance from the old woman's lodge, where they encountered a group of angels robed in white and wearing wings. They were playing a ball game the men had played several times themselves.

Tow of the men decided they would like to remain and become angles. The other three preferred to return to earth. Then to their surprise, the Great Spirit appeared and said, "So be it!"

A large cooking pot was placed on a fire. When the water was boiling, the two Seminole who wished to stay were cooked! When all that was left was their bones, the Great Spirit removed them from the pot, and put their bones back together again. he then draped them with a white cloth and touched them with his magic.

The Great Spirit brought the two men back to life! They wore beautiful white wings and were called men angels.

"What do you three men wish to do?" asked the Great Spirit.

"If we may, we prefer to return to our village," replied the three men.

"Gather your belongings together and go to sleep at once," directed the Great Spirit.

Later when the men opened their eyes, they found themselves safe at home again in their own camp.

We are happy to return and stay earth bound. We hope never to venture skyward again in search of mysteries," they reported to the Chief.

 

 

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Seneca Indian Lore:

 

The Woman Who Fell From The Sky

A long time ago human beings lived high up in what is now called heaven. They had a great and illustrious chief.

It so happened that this chief's daughter was taken very ill with a strange affliction. All the people were very anxious as to the outcome of her illness. Every known remedy was tried in an attempt to cure her, but none had any effect.

Near the lodge of this chief stood a great tree, which every year bore fruit for food. One of the friends of the chief had a dream in which he was advised to tell th chief that, in order to cure his daughter, he must lay her beside this tree, and that he must have the tree dug up, This advice was carried out. While the people were at work and the young woman lay there, a young man came along. He was very angry and said: "It is not right to destroy this tree. It's fruit is all we have to live on." With this remark he gave the chief's daughter a shove with his foot, causing her to fall into the hole that had been dug.

Now, that hole opened up into this world, which was then all water, on which floated waterfowl of many kinds. There was no land at that time. It came to pass that as these waterfowl saw this young woman falling they shouted, "Let us receive her," whereupon they, at least some of them, joined their bodies together, and the young woman fell on their bodies. When these were wearied they asked, "Who will volunteer to care for this woman?" The Great Turtle then tool her, and when he tired holding her, he in turn asked who would take his place.

At last the question arose as to what they should do to provide her with a permanent resting place in this world. Finally it was decided to prepare the earth, on which she would live. To do this it was determined soil from the bottom of the sea should be brought up and placed on the broad, firm carapace of the Turtle, where it would increase in size to such an extent that it would accommodate all the creatures that should be procured thereafter.

After much discussion the toad was finally persuaded to dive to the bottom of the waters in search of soil. He succeeded in bringing up the soil. This was carefully spread over the carapace of the Turtle. and at once both began to grow in size and depth.

After the young woman recovered from the illness she had suffered, she built herself a shelter, in which she lived quite contentedly.

In the corse of time she gave birth to a baby girl, who grew rapidly in size and intelligence.

When the daughter had grown into young womanhood, the mother and she were accustomed to go out to dig wild potatoes. The girl's mother had said to her that in doing this she must face the west at all times. Before long the young daughter gave signs that she was about to become a mother. And so her mother reproved her, saying that she had violated the injunction not to face the east, as her condition showed that she had faced the wrong way while digging potatoes. It is said that the breath of the West Wind had entered her person, causing conception. When the day of delivery was at hand, she overheard twins within her body in hot debate as to which should be born first and as to the proper place of exit, once declaring that he was going to emerge through the armpit of his mother, the other saying that he would emerge the natural way. The first one born, who was of a reddish color, was called Djuskaha,tha,is, the Little Sprout.

The grandmother of the twins liked Djuskaha and hated the other, so they cast Othagwenda into a hollow tree some distance from the lodge.

The boy who reminded in the lodge grew very rapidly, and soon was able to make himself bows and arrows and go out to hunt. At last he was asked why he had to have a new bow and arrows every morning. He replied that there was a young boy in the hollow tree in the neighborhood who used them. The grandmother inquired where the tree stood, and he told her, whereupon then they went there and brought the other boy home again.

When the boys had grown into men, they decided that it was necessary for them to increase the size of their island, so they agreed to start out together, afterward separating to create forests and lakes and other things. They parted as agreed, Othagwenda going westward and Djuskaha eastward, In the corse of time they returned and met in their shelter at night, then agreeing to go the next day to see what each other had made. It was found that Othagwenda had made the country all rocks and full of ledges, and also a mosquito that was very large. Djuskaha asked the mosquito to run, in order that he might see weather the insect could fight. The mosquito ran, and sticking his bill through a sapling, made it fall at which Djuskaha said, "That will not be right for you would kill the people who are about to come," So seizing him, he rubbed him down with his hands, causing him to become very small; then he blew on the mosquito, whereupon he flew away, he also changed some of the other animals his brother had made. After returning to the lodge, they agreed to go the next day and see what Djuskaha had made. On visiting the east the next day, they found that Djuskaha had made a large number of animals that were so fat that they could hardly move. and that he had made the sugar maple trees to drop syrup; and that he had made the sycamore tree to bare fine fruit; and that the rivers were so formed that half of the water flowed upstream.

Othagwenda, was greatly displeased with what his brother had made, saying that the people who were about to come would live too easily and be too happy. So he shook violently the various animals... the bear, the deer and the turkeys... causing them to become small at once. he also caused the maple to drop sweetened water only, and the fruit of the sycamore to become small and useless, and lastly he caused the waters in the rivers to flow in only one direction, because the original plan would make it too easy for human beings who were about to come to navigate the waters.

The inspection of each others' work resulted in a deadly disagreement between the brothers, who finally came to blows, and Othagwenda was killed in the fierce struggle.

 

 

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Senesa Indian Lore:

 

Godasiyo The Woman Chief

At the beginning of time when Turtle Island was new, a woman chief named Godasiyo ruled over an Indian village beside a large river in the East. In those days all the tribes spoke one language and lived in harmony and peace. Because Godasiyo was a wise and progressive chief, many people came from faraway places to live in her village, and they had no difficulty understanding one another.

At last the village grew so large that half the people lived on the north side of the river, and half on the south side. They spent much time canoeing back and forth to visit, attend dances, and exchange gifts of venison, hides, furs, and dried fruits and berries. The tribal council house was on the south side, which made it necessary for those who lived on the north bank to make frequent canoe trips to consult with their chief. Some complained about this, and to make it easier for everybody to cross the rapid stream, Godasiyo ordered a bridge to be built of saplings and tree limbs carefully fastened together. This bridge brought the tribe close together again, and the people praised Godasiyo for her wisdom.

Not long after this, a white dog appeared in the village, and Godasiyo claimed it for her own. Everywhere the chief went the dog followed her, and the people on the north side of the river became jealous of the animal. They spread stories that the dog was possessed by an evil spirit that would bring harm to the tribe. One day a delegation from the north bank crossed the bridge to the council house and demanded that Godasiyo kill the white dog. When she refused to do so, the delegates returned to their side of the river, and that night they destroyed the bridge.

From that time the people on the north bank and those on the south bank began to distrust each other. The tribe divided into two factions, one renouncing Godasiyo as their chief, the other supporting her. Bad feelings between them grew so deep that Godasiyo foresaw that the next step would surely lead to fighting and war. Hoping to avoid bloodshed, she called all members of the tribe who supported her to a meeting in the council house.

"Our people," she said, "are divided by more than a river. No longer is there goodwill and contentment among us. Not wishing to see brother fight against brother, I propose that those who recognize me as their chief follow me westward up the great river to build a new village."

Almost everyone who attended the council meeting agreed to follow Godasiyo westward. In preparation for the migration, they built many canoes of birch bark. Two young men who had been friendly rivals in canoe races volunteered to construct a special water craft for their chief. With strong poles they fastened two large canoes together and then built a platform which extended over the canoes and the space between them. Upon this platform was a seat for Godasiyo and places to store her clothing, extra leggings, belts, robes, moccasins, mantles, caps, awls, needles and adornments.

At last everything was ready. Godasiyo took her seat on the platform with the white dog beside her, and the two young men who had built the craft began paddling the double canoes beneath. Behind them the chief's followers and defenders launched their own canoes which contained all their belongings. This flotilla of canoes covered the shining waters as far as anyone could see up and down the river.

After they had paddled a long distance, they came to a fork in the river. Godasiyo ordered the two young canoeists to stop in the middle of the river until the others caught up with them. In a few minutes the flotilla was divided, half of the canoes on her left, the others on her right.

The chief and the people on each side of her began to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the two forks in the river. Some wanted to go one way, some preferred the other way. The arguments grew heated with anger. Godasiyo said that she would take whichever fork her people chose, but they could agree on neither. Finally those on the right turned the prows of their canoes up the right channel, while those on the left began paddling up the left channel. And so the tribe began to separate.

When this movement started, the two young men paddling the two canoes carrying Godasiyo's float disagreed as to which fork they should take, and they fell into a violent quarrel. The canoeist on the right thrust his paddle into the water and started toward the right, and at the same time the one on the left swung his canoe toward the left. Suddenly Godasiyo's platform slipped off its supports and collapsed into the river, carrying her with it.

Hearing the loud splash, the people on both sides turned their canoes around and tried to rescue their beloved chief. But she and the white dog, the platform, and all her belongings had sunk to the bottom, and they could see nothing but fish swimming in the clear waters.

Dismayed by this tragic happening, the people of the two divisions began to try to talk to each other, but even though they shouted words back and forth, those on the right could not understand the people on the left, and those on the left could not understand the people on the right. When Godasiyo drowned in the great river her people's language had become changed. This was how it was that the Indians were divided into many tribes spreading across America, each of them speaking a different language.

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Seek Your Father

Two legends, related by Esquire Johnson, an old Seneca Chief. He described the origin of the twins Good and Evil, and said the Sun was made by the Good-minded twin out of the face of his dead mother, the first earth-woman, who was the daughter of the Sky-woman.

Another version of this Seneca legend, dated 1876, tells practically the same story, but names the Sky-woman as having borne first a daughter, who, without any knowledge of a man, became that earth-mother of the twins Good and Evil. That daughter died giving birth to the twins, and she was buried by her mother, the Sky-woman.

Sky-woman said to her grandson the good-mined-spirit, "Now you must go and seek your father. When you find him, you must ask him to give you power."

She pointed to the East and said to him, "He lives in that direction. You must go on and on, until you reach the limits of this huge island. Then continue onward, as you must paddle upon the waters, until you come to a high mountain, which rises straight up out of the water. You must climb this mountain to the summit. There you will see a wonderful being, sitting on the highest peak. You must say to him, 'I am your son.'

"Your father is the Sun, and through you, he is also the father of mankind, because of your earthly origin from my daughter."

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Serrano Indian Lore:

 

Land Of The Dead

A great hunter brought home a wife. They loved each other and were very happy. But the man's mother hated the young wife, and one day when the husband was out hunting, she put a sharp, pointed object in the wife's seat, and the woman sat down upon it and was killed.

The people immediately brought brush and piled it up. They put her body on it and burned it, and by the time her husband returned that night her body was consumed. She was leading him in the direction of the rock past which all dead people go. If they have lived bad lives, the rock falls on them and crushes them. When they came to it, she spoke to her husband. "We are going to the place of dead people," she told him. "I will take you on my back so hat you will not be seen and recognized as one of the living."

Thus they traveled on until they came to the river that the dead have to ford. This was very dangerous for the man because he was not dead, but the woman kep him on her back, and they came through safely. The woman went directly to her people, to her parents and brothers and sisters who had died before. They were glad to see her, but the did not like the man, for he was not dead. The woman pleaded for him, however, and they let him stay. Special food always had to be cooked for him, because he could not eat what dead people live on. And in the daytime he could see nothing, it was as if he were alone all day long; only in the night did he see his wife and the other people.

When the dead were going hunting, they took him along and stationed him on the trail the deer would take. Presently he heard them shouting, "The deer, the deer!" and he knew they were shouting to him that the deer were coming in his direction. But he could see nothing. Then he looked again and spotted two little black beetles, which he knocked over. When the people had come up, they praised him for his hunting.

After that the dead did not complain about his presence, but they did feel sorry for him. "It's not time for him to die yet," they said. "He has a hard time here. The woman ought to go back with him." So they arranged for both of them to return, and they instructed the man and the woman to have nothing to do with each other for three nights after they were back on earth.

Three nights for the dead, however, mean three years for the living. Not aware of this, the husband and wife returned to earth and remained continent for three nights. The following evening they embraced, and when the husband woke on the morning of the fourth day, he was alone.

 

 

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The Woman Who Married the Sea

 

 

This is a story from the Samish people of the Pacific Northwest. Up near the border with Canada, the Pacific Ocean divides the Olympic Peninsula from the rest of Washington State. That arm of the Pacific Ocean is called Puget Sound, a deep glacial fjord. This is where the Samish people have lived for many, many years.

But the water of Puget Sound is much more than just part of the Pacific. You see, the rivers on the Olympic Mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula, flow into Puget Sound from the west, and the rivers on the Cascade Mountains, on the mainland of Washington State, flow into Puget Sound from the east. These three waters are mixed together by the tides, forming an enormous estuarial home for The Samish as well as many plants and animals.

Puget Sound is vast. If you took a boat out onto Puget Sound, there are some places where the only land you could see are the mountain tops in the distance. But in other places, rugged windswept islands are clustered together, covered with pine trees, some islands with sheer cliffs dropping into the water, others with sandy beaches.

About half way between Seattle and the Canadian border, there are two islands that are very close together. There is only a narrow channel between them, where the brilliant dark green tide waters rush in and out, and where large whirlpools swirl around, with long stands of kelp caught in them.

The Samish people have a story about that narrow channel and a sandy beach near by. Their story is called "The Woman Who Married the Sea."

Once there was a young woman who loved to swim in the narrow channel. She had studied the tides and the whirlpools very carefully from the shore, so she knew exactly where to swim. She loved the feel of the rushing water against her body and her dark hair floating behind her.

The sea saw her swimming and fell in love with her.

Every day, the young men of the tribe went to sea in their canoes to catch salmon while the young women gathered clams and mussels and crabs on the beaches. One day, the young woman was gathering shellfish on a sandy beach near the channel. When she found a spurting clam hole, she dug up the clam and bent to pick it up. But the clam escaped from her hand.

"Did that clam jump from my hand?" she thought, very puzzled. "That is what it felt like. No, no, a clam cannot jump. It must have slipped." The clam was now in the water, so she walked into the water and picked it up. Again, it jumped, or slipped, from her hand. Over and over, this happened, with the young woman following the clam into deeper and deeper water. Finally, when the water was up to her waist, the young woman gave up on catching the clam. She turned toward the shore, with her hand still in the water. She was startled to feel a watery hand clasp her hand in return. Then she heard a deep, beautiful voice:

"You are the most beautiful woman who has every lived. Thank you for coming to visit me." The watery hand held onto hers for several moments longer, then let go. She slowly backed out of the water, completely forgetting that jumping clam. Then she walked home, often looking at her hand.

The next day when she was gathering clams again, she was not surprised when a clam led her into the water again. Nor was she surprised when the watery hand clasped hers again and the deep, beautiful voice spoke again.

"Thank you for coming back to visit me. Let me tell you about my world."

"Yes, yes, oh please do," she eagerly replied.

"You have seen parts of my world, but only small parts of it, living where you do. You have seen glimpses of the whales and porpoises, the seals and the sea birds, and of course, the salmon. By the shore, youve seen the shellfish, the barnacles and starfish and herring, and in the tidal pools, the sea anemones, the sea cucumbers and the snails."

"Yes, yes, I have seen them."

"But you have never seen the giant octopus which lives in the deep water, nor the wolf eels that hide in the rocks. You have seen the kelp along the beaches. But have you ever seen a kelp forest?"

"A kelp forest? What is that?" she asked, fascinated.

"The kelp starts growing down on the rocky bottom. Then it grows up and up and up. When it gets to the surface of the water, it branches out, floating on the surface of the water to form a dense canopy, like your trees branch out as they reach for the sky. But your trees are so rigid they barely move in the wind. Kelp forests dance and sway and ripple with every tiny movement of the water. The smallest creatures nestle in and amongst the kelp and the rocky bottom, hiding, while the larger creatures swim by and eat them. The kelp forest nourishes and protects its animals at every level of the water. "

"Oh, that sounds wonderful," she said, with longing in her voice. "Tell me more."

"Just as your forest changes with the seasons, so does the kelp forest. In the winter, the waves rip the kelp from their rocks and throw them onto the beaches, leaving gaps in the forest. But in the spring, new plants unfurl, filling the gaps, sometimes growing as long as your lower leg each day, until a new canopy floats on the surface. The sun filters down through the kelp canopy and glistens over everything it touches."

"Your world is truly marvelous."

"Yes, yes it is."

So they spoke more that day.

On the third day, she just walked into the water and did not wait for a clam guide. And on the fourth day when they were talking, he asked,

"Will you come live with me in my world? Will you marry me?"

"Yes, yes, I will, if my father gives permission."

So out of the water came a young man, a handsome young man, the sea itself in the form of a human. And the two young people walked to the village to speak to her father.

"No! NO! My daughter will never marry the sea!" the father burst out. "She will die in the sea!"

And he thought, "If she leaves my world, my heart will shatter."

"NO! NO! My daughter will never marry you."

"Then your people will die," the young man replied calmly. "I will no longer feed them." The young man turned and walked back to the sea.

The next day, when the young men of the tribe went out in their canoes, they could find no salmon. The young women on the shore could find no shellfish. So the tribe got in their canoes and went to the mainland, following a river inland, hoping to find some freshwater fish. But they did not. And as the days went on, even the water in the rivers dried up. The people had nothing to drink.

So the young woman went to her father. "Father, you must let me marry the sea. I want to live in the sea. The people will die if I dont marry the sea."

"No, you will never marry the sea," he replied again.

Then she went to the sea. "Please, please feed my people. We are dying."

"Not until you marry me."

And so for a second day and then a third day, the young woman went back and forth between her father and the sea. But they both held fast to their decisions.

But on the fourth day, when she went to her father, she said, "Father, you and I will die soon. Please, let me live with the sea. I will be happy there."

"You are right," the father reluctantly agreed. "Go get the young man. I must speak to him."

And so she went all the way back to the sea, and the sea once again took the form of a young man. The two young people walked back to her father.

"I will let you marry my daughter only if you agree to two promises. First, my daughter must be happy with you."

"I will gladly see to that."

"And my daughter must come back one day each year, so that I can see that she is happy."

"I promise that also."

Thus the two young people were married. Then those of the tribe who still had some strength walked with them back to the shore. The sun was just setting. First the young man walked into the water and disappeared. Then the young woman followed. For a few moments, her long dark hair floated on the sunset-painted water. And then that too disappeared.

The next day, the river was full of water, and the sea was full of salmon and shellfish. The people would live. Every day there was an abundance of water and food. But on the day before the return of the woman who married the sea, the catch of salmon was greater than the had ever seen. And the clams almost jumped out of their holes.

That first time when the young woman returned, she was more beautiful than ever. Her happiness shone out of her eyes and smile.

But during her second visit and her third, the people began to notice she was having a hard time breathing and walking on the land. On the fourth visit, every step was a struggle and she gasped for every breath.

So the people held a council. And even her father agreed. "She will die if she comes back again, even just one more time. We must release her from the promise."

So the council told her she did not have to come back again. She said good bye to her father, for the very last time. And slowly she walked into the sea.

No one ever saw her again. But her spirit was always with them, and the people continued to have plentiful catches and fresh water to drink. They say that when the young men take their canoes through that narrow channel, if they think of her, their canoes go swiftly through, always avoiding the whirlpools. They say sometimes that they see her long dark hair floating on the surface of the water.

Generation after generation, mothers have told their children this story, the story of our mother, the story of the woman who feeds us all, the story of the woman who married the sea.

The Samish people continue to tell this story to this day. In 1983, on Rosario Beach where the young woman gathered her clams and shellfish, they erected a 23 red cedar pole that is carved on two sides. On the side facing the land is the young woman with her long hair and her dress, holding aloft a salmon. But on the side that faces the sea, her dress is covered with clams and mussels and starfish. Her hair is made of kelp, with the smallest sea creatures hiding in its strands. And she too holds aloft a salmon.

 

 

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Shasta Indian Lore:

 

 

How The People Got Arrowheads

In the days when the first people lived, they used to go hunting with arrows that had pine-bark points. They did not know where to get obsidian, or they would have used it, for obsidian made a sharp, deadly point which always killed the animals that were shot.

Ground Squirrel was the only one who knew that Obsidian Old Man lived on Medicine Lake, and one day he set out to steal some obsidian. Taking a basket filled with roots, he went into Obsidian Old Man's house and offered him some. Obisidian-Old-Man ate the roots and liked them so much that he sent Ground Squirrel out to get more. While Ground Squirrel was digging for them, Grizzly Bear came along.

"Sit down," Grizzly Bear said. "Let me sit in your lap. Feed me those roots by the handful."

Ground Squirrel was very much afraid of huge Grizzly Bear, so he did as he was told. Grizzly Bear gobbled the roots and got up. "Obsidian Old Man's mother cleaned roots for someone," he said as he went away.

Ground Squirrel returned to Obsidian Old Man, but there were only a few roots left to give him. Ground Squirrel told him what Grizzly Bear had done and what he had said as he departed. Obsidian Old Man was extremely angry at the insult to his dead mother.

"Tomorrow we will both go to find roots," he said.

So early the next morning they set off. Obsidian Old Man hid near the place where Ground Squirrel started digging. Soon Ground Squirrels basket was filled, and then along came Grizzly Bear.

"You dug all these for me!" he said. "Sit down!"

Ground Squirrel sat down, as he had the the day before, and fed Grizzly Bear roots by the handful. But just then Grizzly Bear saw Obsidian Old Man draw near, and the bear got up to fight. At each blow, a great slice of the grizzly's flesh was cut off by the sharp obsidian. Grizzly Bear kept fighting till he was all cut to pieces, and then he fell dead. So Ground Squirrel and Obsidian Old Man went home and ate the roots and were happy. Early next morning, Obsidian Old Man awakened by Ground Squirrels groaning.

"I am sick. I am bruised because that great fellow sat upon me. Really, I am sick," he was groaning.

Obsidian Old Man was sorry for Ground Squirrel. "I'll go and get wood," he said to himself. "But I'll watch him, for he may be fooling me. These people are very clever."

So he went for wood, and on the way he thought, "I had beater to back and look."

When he crept back softly and peeped in, he saw Ground Squirrel lying there, groaning.>o> "He is really sick,! Obsidian Old Man said to himself, and went off in earnest--this time for wood.

But Ground Squirrel was very clever; he had been fooling all the time. As soon as Obsidian Old Man was far away, he got up. Taking all the obsidian points and typing them up in a bundle, he ran off.

As soon as Obsidian Old Man returned, he missed Ground Squirrel. He dropped the wood, ran after him, and almost caught him, but Ground Squirrel ran into a hole in the ground. As he went, he kicked the earth into the eyes of the old man, who was digging fast, trying to catch him.

After a while Obsidian Old Man gave up and left. Ground Squirrel came out the other end of the hole, crossed the lake, and went home.

He emptied the bundle of points on the ground and distributed them to everyone. All day long the people worked, tying them onto arrows. They threw away all the old bark points, and when they were hunting they used the new arrow points and killed a great many deer.

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Why Mount Shasta Erupted

Coyote, a universal and mischievous spirit, lived near Mount Shasta in what is now California. Coyote's village had little fish and no salmon. His neighboring village of Shasta Indians always had more than they could use.

Shasta Indians had built a dam that served as a trap for fish, especially the wonderful salmon. They ate it raw, baked it over hot coals, and dried large quantities for their winter food supply. Other tribes came to Shasta Village to trade for salmon, which created wealth and respect for the Shasta tribe.

One day Coyote was dreaming of a delicious meal of salmon. His mouth watered at the thought of a nice freshly cooked, juicy salmon.

"I am so terribly hungry," he said to himself upon waking. "If I visit the Shasteans, maybe I can have a salmon dinner."

Coyote washed and brushed himself to look neat and clean, then started for Shasta Village with visions of fresh salmon swimming behind his eyes. He found the Shasteans at the dam hauling in big catches of salmon. They welcomed him and said that he could have all the fish he could catch and carry.

Hunger and greed caused Coyote to take more fish than was good for him. Finally, he lifted his big load onto his back and began his homeward journey, after thanking the Shasta Indians for their generosity.

Because his load was extra heavy and he still had a long way to go Coyote soon tired.

"I think I had better rest for a while," he thought. "A short nap will do me good."

He stretched himself full length upon the ground, lying on his stomach, with his pack still on his back. While Coyote slept, swarms and swarms of Yellow Jackets dived down and scooped up his salmon. What was left were bare salmon bones.

Coyote waked very hungry. His first thought was how good a bite of salmon would taste at that moment. Still half-asleep, he turned his head and took a large bite. To his great surprise and anger, his mouth was full of fish bones! His salmon meat was gone. Coyote jumped up and down in a rage shouting, "Who has stolen my salmon? Who has stolen my salmon?"

Coyote searched the ground around him but could not locate any visible tracks. He decided to return to Shasta Village and ask his good friends there if he could have more salmon.

"Whatever happened to you?" they asked when they saw his pack of bare salmon bones. "I was tired and decided to take a nap," replied Coyote. "While I slept, someone slightly stole all of the good salmon meat that you gave me. I feel very foolish to ask, but may I catch more fish at your dam?"

All of the friendly Shasteans invited him to spend the night and to fish with them in the morning. Again, Coyote caught salmon and made a second pack for his back and started homeward.

Strangely, Coyote tired at about the same place as he had on the day before. Again he stopped to rest, but he decided that he would not sleep today. With his eyes wide open, he saw swarms of hornets approaching. Because he never imagined they were the culprits who stole his salmon, he did nothing.

Quicker than he could blink his eyes, the Yellow Jackets again stripped the salmon meat from the bones and in a flash they disappeared!

Furious with himself, Coyote raged at the Yellow Jackets. Helpless, he ran back to Shasta Village, relating to his friends what he had seen with his own eyes. They listened to his story and they felt sorry for Coyote, losing his second batch of salmon.

"Please take a third pack of fish and go to the same place and rest. We will follow and hide in the bushes beside you and keep the Yellow Jackets from stealing your fish," responded the Shasta Indians.

Coyote departed carrying this third pack of salmon. The Shasteans followed and hid according to plan. While all were waiting, who should come along but Grandfather Turtle.

"Whoever asked you to come here?" said Coyote, annoyed at Grandfather Turtle's intrusion.

Turtle said nothing but just sat there by himself.

"Why did you come here to bother us," taunted Coyote. "We are waiting for the robber Yellow Jackets who stole two packs of salmon. We'll scare them away this time with all my Shasta friends surrounding this place. Why don't you go on your way?"

But Turtle was not bothered by Coyote; he continued to sit there and rest himself. Coyote again mocked Grandfather Turtle and became so involved with him that he was completely unaware when the Yellow Jackets returned. In a flash, they stripped the salmon bones of the delicious meat and flew away!

Coyote and the Shasta Indians were stunned for a moment. But in the next instant, they took off in hot pursuit of the Yellow Jackets. They ran and ran as fast as they could, soon exhausting themselves and dropping out of the race. Not Grandfather Turtle, who plodded steadily along, seeming to know exactly how and where to trail them.

Yellow Jackets, too, knew where they were going, as they flew in a straight line for the top of Mount Shasta. There they took the salmon into the centare of the mountain through a hole in the top. Turtle saw where they went, and waited patiently for Coyote and the other stragglers to catch up to him. Finally, they all reached the top, where turtle showed them the hole through which the Yellow Jackets had disappeared.

Coyote directed all the good people to start a big fire on the top of Mount Shasta. They fanned the smoke into the top hole, thinking to smoke out the yellow jackets. But the culprits did not come out, because the smoke found other holes in the side of the mountain.

Frantically, Coyote and the Shasta Indians ran here, there, and everywhere, closing up the smaller smoke holes. They hoped to suffocate the Yellow Jackets within the mountain.

Furiously, they worked at their task while Grandfather Turtle crawled up to the very top of Mount Shasta. Gradually, he lifted himself onto the top hole and sat down, covering it completely with his massive shell, like a Mother Turtle sits on her nest. He succeeded in completely closing the top hole, so that no more smoke escaped.

Coyote and his friends closed all of the smaller holes.

"Surely the Yellow Jackets will soon be dead," said Coyote as he sat down to rest.

What is that rumbling noise, everyone questioned? Louder and louder the noise rumbled from deep within Mount Shasta. Closer and closer to the top came the rumble. Grandfather Turtle decided it was time for him to move from his hot seat.

Suddenly, a terrific explosion occurred within the mountain, spewing smoke, fire, and gravel everywhere!

Then to Coyote's delight, he saw his salmon miraculously pop out from the top hole of Mount Shasta--cooked and smoked, ready to eat!

Coyote, the Shasta Indians, and Grandfather Turtle sat down to a well-deserved meal of delicious salmon.

To this day, the Shasta Indian tribe likes to conclude this tale saying, "This is how volcanic eruptions began long, long ago on Mount Shasta."

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Old Man Above And The Grizzly Bears


Along time ago, while smoke still curled from the smoke hole of the tepee, a great storm arose. The storm shook the tepee. Wind blew the smoke down the smoke hole.

Old Man Above said to Little Daughter, "Climb up to the smoke hole. Tell Wind to be quiet. Stick your arm out of the smoke hole before you tell him."

Little Daughter climbed up to the smoke hole and put out her arm. But Little Daughter put out her head also. She wanted to see the world. Little Daughter wanted to see the rivers and trees, and the white foam on the Bitter Waters.

Wind caught Little Daughter by the hair. Wind pulled her out of the smoke hole and blew her down the mountain. Wind blew Little Daughter over the smooth ice and the great forests, down to the land of the Grizzly Bears Wind tangled her hair and then left her cold and shivering near the tepees of the Grizzly Bears.

Soon Grizzly came home. In those days Grizzly walked on two feet, and carried a big stick. Grizzly could talk as people do. Grizzly laid down the young elk he had killed and picked up Little Daughter. He took Little Daughter to his tepee. Then Mother Grizzly warmed her by the fire. Mother Grizzly gave her food to eat.

Soon Little Daughter married the son of Grizzly. Their children were not Grizzly Bears. They were men. So the Grizzly Bears built a tepee for Little Daughter and her children. White men call the tepee Little Shasta.

At last Mother Grizzly sent a son to Old Man Above. Mother Grizzly knew that Little Daughter was the child of Old Man Above, but she was afraid.

She said: "Tell Old Man Above that Little Daughter is alive."

Old Man Above climbed out of the smoke hole. He ran down the mountain side to the land of the Grizzly Bears. Old Man Above ran very quickly. Wherever he set his foot the snow melted. The snow melted very quickly and made streams of water. Now Grizzly Bears stood in line to welcome Old Man Above. They stood on two feet and carried clubs.

Then Old Man Above saw his daughter and her children. He saw the new race of men. Then Old Man Above became very angry. He said to Grizzly Bears, "Never speak again. Be silent. Neither shall ye stand upright. Ye shall use your hands as feet. Ye shall look downward."

Then Old Man Above put out the fire in the tepee. Smoke no longer curls from the smoke hole. He fastened the door of the tepee. The new race of men he drove out. Then Old Man Above took Little Daughter back to his tepee.

That is why grizzly bears walk on four feet and look downward. Only when
fighting they stand on two feet and use their fists like men.

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Old Man Above Creates The World


Long, long ago, when the world was so new that even the stars were dark, it was very, very flat.

Chareya, Old Man Above, could not see through the dark to the new, flat earth. Neither could he step down to it because it was so far below him.

With a large stone he bored a hole in the sky. Then through the hole he pushed down masses of ice and snow, until a great pyramid rose from the plain. Old Man Above climbed down through the hole he had made in the sky, stepping from cloud to cloud, until he could put his foot on top the mass of ice and snow.

Then with one long step he reached the earth.

The sun shone through the hole in the sky and began to melt the ice and snow. It made holes in the ice and snow. When it was soft, Chareya bored with his finger into the earth, here and there, and planted the first trees.

Streams from the melting snow watered the new trees and made them grow. Then he gathered the leaves which fell from the trees and blew upon them. They became birds. He took a stick and broke it into pieces. Out of the small end he made fishes and placed them in the mountain streams.

Of the middle of the stick, he made all the animals except the grizzly bear. From the big end of the stick came the grizzly bear, who was made master of all. Grizzly was large and strong and cunning. When the earth was new he walked upon two feet and carried a large club. So strong was Grizzly that Old Man Above feared the creature he had made.

Therefore, so that he might be safe, Chareya hollowed out the pyramid of ice and snow as a tepee. There he lived for thousands of snows.

The Indians knew he lived there because they could see the smoke curling from the smoke hole of his tepee. When the pale-face came, Old Man Above went away. There is no longer any smoke from the smoke hole. White men call the tepee Mount Shasta

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Old Moles' Creation


Long, long ago, before there was any earth, Old Mole burrowed underneath Somewhere, and threw up the earth which forms the world. Then Great Man created the people. But the Indians were cold.

Now in the cast gleamed the white Fire Stone. Therefore Coyote journeyed eastward, and brought back the Fire Stone for the Indians. So people had fire.

In the beginning, Sun had nine brothers, all flaming hot like himself. But Coyote killed the nine brothers and so saved the world from burning up.

But Moon also had nine brothers all made of ice, like himself, and the Night People almost froze to death. Therefore Coyote went away out on the eastern edge of the world with his flint-stone knife. He heated stones to keep his hands warm, and as the Moons arose, he killed one after another with his flint-stone knife, until he had slain nine of them.

Thus the people were saved from freezing at night.

When it rains, some Indian, sick in heaven, is weeping. Long, long ago, there was a good young Indian on earth. When he died the Indians wept so that a flood came upon the earth, and drowned all people except one couple.

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Shoshoni Indian Lore:



Wolf Tricks The Trickster
The Shoshoni people saw the Wolf as a creator God and they respected him greatly. Long ago, Wolf, and many other animals, walked and talked like man.
Coyote could talk, too, but the Shoshoni people kept far away from him because he was a Trickster, somebody who is always up to no good and out to double-cross you.

Coyote resented Wolf because he was respected by the Shoshoni. Being a devious Trickster, Coyote decided it was time to teach Wolf a lesson. He would make the Shoshoni people dislike Wolf, and he had the perfect plan.
Or so he thought.

One day, Wolf and Coyote were discussing the people of the land. Wolf claimed that if somebody were to die, he could bring them back to life by shooting an arrow under them. Coyote had heard this boast before and decided to put his plan into action.

Wearing his most innocent smile he told Wolf that if he brought everyone back to life, there would soon be no room left on Earth. Once people die, said Coyote, they should remain dead.
If Wolf takes my advice, thought Coyote, then the Shoshoni people would hate Wolf, once and for all.

Wolf was getting tired of Coyote constantly questioning his wisdom and knew he was up to no good, but he didn't say anything. He just nodded wisely and decided it was time to teach Coyote a lesson.

A few days after their conversation, Coyote came running to Wolf. Coyote's fur was ruffled and his eyes were wide with panic.

Wolf already knew what was wrong: Coyote's son had been bitten by Rattlesnake and no animal can survive the snake's powerful venom.

Coyote pleaded with Wolf to bring his son back to life by shooting an arrow under him, as he claimed he could do.

Wolf reminded Coyote of his own remark that people should remain dead. He was no longer going to bring people back to life, as Coyote had suggested.

The Shoshoni people say that was the day Death came to the land and that, as a punishment for his mischievous ways, Coyote's son was the first to die.

No one else was ever raised from the dead by Wolf again, and the people came to know sadness when someone dies. Despite Coyote's efforts, however, the Shoshoni didn't hate Wolf. Instead,


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Sia Indian Lore:


Men And Woman Try Living Apart
Before Ut'se't, Mother of the People, left this world, she selected six Sia women and sent one to the north, one to the west, one to the south, one to the east, one to the zenith, and one to the nadir, and told them to make their homes at these points for all time. That way they would be near the cloud rulers of the cardinal points, and they could intercede for all the people of Ha'arts.
Ut'se't told her people to remember these women in times of need, and they would appeal to the cloud people for them.

The Sia alone followed the command of Ut'se't and took the straight road, while all other pueblos advanced by various routes to the center of the earth.
After Ut'se't's departure the Sia traveled some distance and built a village of beautiful white stone, where they lived for a long duration.
At one time all the parents suffered tragically at the hand of *ti'a'moni, who, objecting to the increase of his people, caused all children to be put to death. The Sia had scarcely recovered from this calamity when another serious difficulty arose.

The Sia women worked hard all day, grinding meal and singing; and at sundown, when the men returned to the houses, the women would often abuse them, saying:
"You are no good; you do not care to work. All you want to do is be with women all the time. If you would allow four days to pass between, the women would care more for you."

The men replied:
"You women really want to be with us all day and all night. If you could have the men only every four days, you would be very unhappy."
The women retorted:
"It is you men who would be unhappy if you could be with the women only every four days."

And the fight grew angrier and angrier. The men cried:
"Were it ten days, twenty days, thirty days that we remained apart from you, we'd never be unhappy."
The women replied:
"We think not, but we women would be very contented to remain away from you men for sixty days."
And the men said:
"We men would be happy to remain apart from you women for five moons."
The women, growing more excited, cried:
"You do not speak the truth; we women would be contented to be separated from you ten moons."
The men retorted:
"We men could remain away from you women twenty moons and be very happy."
"You do not speak the truth," said the women, "for you wish to be with us all the time, day and night."

Three days they quarreled and on the fourth day the women finally took themselves to one side of the pueblo, while the men and boys gathered on the other side, each forming their own kiva, or ceremonial chamber. The women had a great talk and the men held a council. They were both furious with one another.

The *ti'amoni*, who presided over the council, said:
"Perhaps you will each be contented if you and the women try living apart."
And on the following morning he had all the men and male children who were not being nourished by their mothers cross the great river which ran by the village, the women remaining in the village.
The men departed at sunrise, and the women were delighted. They said:
"We can do all the work; we understand the men's work and we can work like them."
The men said to each other:
"We can do the things the women did for us."

As they left the village the men called to the women:
"We leave you to yourselves, perhaps for one year, perhaps for two, and perhaps longer. Who knows how it will work out? After all, men are not so amorous as you."

It took a long time for the men to cross the river, as it was very wide. The *ti'amoni* led the men and remained with them. The women were compelled by the *ti'amoni* to send their male infants over the river as soon as they ceased nourishing them.

For two moons the men and women were very happy. The men were busy hunting and all the game they could eat, but the women had no animal food. The men grew stout and the women very thin.

At the expiration of the first ten moons some of the women were sad away from the men.
As the second year passed, more of the women wanted the men, but the men seemed perfectly satisfied with the way things were.
After three years the women more and more wished for the men, but the men were only slightly desirous of the women.

When the fourth year was half gone, the women called to the *ti'amoni*, saying:
"We want the men to come to us."
The female children had grown up like reeds; they had no flesh on them.
The morning after the women begged the *ti'amoni* for the return of the men, they re-crossed the river to live again with the women, and in four days after their return the women had recovered their flesh.



 


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Siksika Indian Lore:


Chief Mountain

Many years ago, a young Pagan warrior was noted for his bravery. When he grew older and more experienced in war, he became the war-chief for a large band of Pagan warriors.

A little while after he became the war-chief, he fell in love with a girl who was in his tribe, and they got married. He was so in love with her that he took no other wives, and he decided not to go on war parties any more. He and his wife were very happy together; unusually so, and when they had a baby, they were even happier then.

Some moons later, a war party that had left his village was almost destroyed by an enemy. Only four men came back to tell the story.
The war-chief was greatly troubled by this. He saw that if the enemy was not punished, they would raid the Pagan camp. So he gave a big war feast and asked all of the young men of his band to come to it.
After they had all eaten their fill, the war-chief arose and said to them in solemn tones:
"Friends and brothers, you have all heard the story that our four young men have told us. All the others who went out from our camp were killed by the enemy. Only these four have come back to our campfire. Those who were killed were our friends and relatives.
We who live must go out on the warpath to avenge the fallen. If we don't, the enemy will think that we are weak and that they can attack us unhurt. Let us not let them attack us here in the camp.
I will lead a party on the warpath. Who here will go with me against the enemy that has killed our friends and brothers?"

A party of brave warriors gathered around him, willing to follow their leader. His wife also asked to join the party, but he told her to stay at the camp.

"If you go without me," she said, "you will find an empty lodge when you return."

The chief talked to her and calmed her, and finally convinced her to stay with the women and children and old men in the camp at the foot of a high mountain.

Leading a large party of men, the chief rode out from the village.
The Pagans met the enemy and defeated them but their war-chief was killed. Sadly, his followers carried the broken body back to the camp.
His wife was crazed with grief. With vacant eyes she wandered everywhere looking for her husband and calling his name. Her friends took care of her, hoping that eventually her mind would become clear again and that she could return to normal life.

One day, though, they could not find her anywhere in the camp.
Searching for her, they saw her high up on the side of the mountain, the tall one above their camp. She had her baby in her arms.

The head man of the village sent runners after her, but from the top of the mountain she signaled that they should not try to reach her.
All watched in horror as she threw her baby out over the cliff and then herself jumped from the mountain to the rocks far, far below.

Her people buried the woman and baby there among the rocks. They carried the body of the chief to the place and buried him beside them.

From that time on, the mountain that towers above the graves was known as Minnow Stahkoo, "the Mountain of the Chief", or "Chief Mountain".
If you look closely, even today, you can see on the face of the mountain the figure of a woman with a baby inn her arms, the wife and child of the chief.

 


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Snohomish Indian Lore:


Pushing Up The Sky
The people could not talk together, but it happened that none of them were pleased with the way the Creator had made the world. The sky was so low that the tall people bumped their heads against it.
Sometimes people would do what was forbidden by climbing up high in the trees and, learning their own words, enter the Sky World.

Finally the wise men of all the different tribes had a meeting to see what they could do about lifting the sky. They agreed that the people should get together and try to push it up higher.

"We can do it," a wise man of the council said, "if we all push at the same time. We will need all the people and all the animals and all the birds when we push."

"How will we know when to push?" asked another of the wise men. "Some of us live in this part of the world, some in another. We don't all talk the same language. How can we get everyone to push at the same time?"

That puzzled the men of the council, but at last one of them suggested that they use a signal. "When the time comes for us to push, when we have everything ready, let someone shout 'Ya-hoh.' That means 'Lift together!' in all our languages."

So the wise men of the council sent that message to all the people and animals and birds and told them on what day they were to lift the sky. Everyone made poles from the giant fir trees to use in pushing against the sky.

The day for the sky lifting came. All the people raised their poles and touched the the sky with them. Then the wise men shouted, "Ya- hoh!" Everybody pushed, and the sky moved up a little.

"Ya-hoh," the wise men shouted a second time, and everybody pushed with all his strength. The sky moved a few inches more. "Ya-hoh," all shouted, and pushed as hard as they could push.

They kept on shouting "Ya-hoh" and pushing until the sky was in the place where it is now. Since then, no one has bumped his head against it, and no one has been able to climb into the Sky World.

Now, three hunters had been chasing four elks during all the meetings and did not know about the plan. Just as the people and animals and birds were ready to push the sky up, the three hunters and the four elks came to the place where the earth nearly meets the sky. The elks jumped into the Sky World, and the hunters ran after them. When the sky was lifted, elks and hunters were lifted too.

In the Sky World they were changed into stars, and at night even now you see them. The three hunters form the handle of the Big Dipper. The middle hunter has his dog with him - now a tiny star. The four elks make the bowl of the Big Dipper.

Some other people were caught up in the sky in two canoes, three men in each of them. And a little fish also was on its way up into the Sky World when the people pushed. So all of them have had to stay there ever since. The hunters and the little dog, the elk, the little fish, and the men in the two canoes are stars, even though they once lived on earth.

We still shout "Ya-hoh!" when doing hard work together or lifting something heavy like a canoe. When we say "Hoh!" all of us use all the strength we have. Our voices have a higher pitch on that part of the word, and we make the 'o' very long - "Ya-hooooh!"


 


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