Long ago, a group of girls of the tribe were out gathering huckleberries. One among them was a bit of a chatterbox who should have been singing to
tell the bears of her presence instead of laughing and talking. The bears, who could hear her even though some distance away, wondered if she was
mocking them in her babbling. By the time the berry-pickers started home, the bears were watching.
As she followed at the end of the group, the girl's foot slipped in some bear dung and her forehead strap, which held the pack filled with berries to her
back, broke. She let out an angry laugh. The others went on. Again she should have sung, but she only complained. The bears noted this and said,
"Does she speak of us?" It was growing dark. Near her appeared two young men who looked like brothers. One said, "Come with us and we will
help you with your berries." As the aristocratic young lady followed them, she saw that they wore bear robes.
It was dark when they arrived at a large house near a rock slide high on the mountain slope. All the people inside, sitting around a small fire, were
wearing bearskins also. Grandmother Mouse ran up to the girl and squeaked to her that she had been taken into the bear den and was to become one
of them. The hair on her robe was already longer and more like a bear's. She was frightened. One of the young bears, the son of a chief, came up to
her and said, "You will live if you become my wife. Otherwise you will die."
She lived on as the wife of the bear, tending the fire in the dark house. She noticed that whenever the Bear People went outside they put on their bear
coats and became like the animal. In the winter she was pregnant, and her husband took her to a cliff cave near the old home, where she gave birth
to twins, which were half human and half bear.
One day her brothers came searching for her, and the Bear Wife knew she must reveal her presence. She rolled a snowball down the mountainside to
draw their attention, and they climbed up the rock slide. The Bear Husband knew that he must die, but before he was killed by the woman's brothers,
he taught her and the Bear Sons the songs that the hunters must use over his dead body to ensure their good luck. He willed his skin to her father,
who was a tribal chief. The young men then killed the bear, smoking him out of the cave and spearing him. They spared the two children, taking
them with the Bear Wife back to her People.
The Bear Sons removed their bear coats and became great hunters. They guided their kinsmen to bear dens in the mountains and showed them how
to set snares, and they instructed the people in singing the ritual songs. Many years later, when their mother died, they put on their coats again and
went back to live with the Bear People, but the tribe continued to have good fortune with their hunting.
|Haida Mother Bear Story
A Haida Legend
Music: Night Voices by AH-NEE-MAH
|How Raven Brought Light To The World
A Haida Legend
According to a Haida story, in the beginning the world was in total darkness.
The Raven, who had existed from the beginning of time, was tired of groping about and bumping into things in the dark.
Eventually the Raven came upon the home of an old man who lived alone with his daughter. Through his slyness, the Raven learned that the old
man had a great treasure. This was all the light in the universe, contained in a tiny box concealed within many boxes. At once the Raven vowed to
steal the light.
He thought and thought, and finally came up with a plan. He waited until the old man's daughter came to the river to gather water. Then the Raven
changed himself into a single hemlock needle and dropped himself into the river, just as the girl was dipping her water-basket into the river.
As she drank from the basket, she swallowed the needle. It slipped and slithered down into her warm belly, where the Raven transformed himself
again, this time into a tiny human being. After sleeping and growing there for a very long time, at last the Raven emerged into the world once more,
this time as human infant.
Even though he had a rather strange appearance, the Raven's grandfather loved him. But the old man threatened dire punishment if he ever touched
the precious treasure box. Nevertheless the Ravenchild begged and begged to be allowed to hold the light just for a moment.
In time the old man yielded, and lifted from the box a warm and glowing sphere, which he threw to his grandson.
As the light was moving toward him, the human child transformed into a gigantic black shadowy bird-form, wings spread ready for flight, and beak
open in anticipation. As the beautiful ball of light reached him, Raven captured it in his beak!
Moving his powerful wings, he burst through the smoke-hole in the roof of the house, and escaped into the darkness with his stolen treasure.
And that is how light came into the universe.
|Master-Carpenter and South-East
A Haida Legend
A Haida myth relates how Master-Carpenter, a supernatural being, went to war with South-East (the South-East wind) at Squ-i, the town lying
farthest South on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
The South-East wind is particularly rude and boisterous on that coast, and it was with the intention of punishing him for his violence that
Master-Carpenter challenged him. First of all, however, he set about building a canoe for himself. The first one he made split, and he was obliged to
throw it away. The second also split, notwithstanding the fact that he had made it stouter than the other. Another and another he built, making each
one stronger than the last, but every attempt ended in failure, and at last, exceedingly vexed at this unskillfulness, he was on the point of giving the
task up. He would have done so, indeed, but for the intervention of Greatest Fool. Hitherto Master-Carpenter had been trying to form two canoes
from one log by means of wedges. Greatest Fool stood watching him for a time, amused at his clumsiness, and finally showed him that he ought to
use bent wedges. And though he was perhaps the person from whom Master-Carpenter might expect to learn anything, the unsuccessful builder of
canoes adopted the suggestion, with the happiest results. When at length he was satisfied that he had made a good canoe he let it down into the
water, and sailed off in search of South-East.
By and by he floated right down to his enemy's abode, and when he judged himself to be above it he rose in the canoe and flung out a challenge. There
was no reply. Again he called, and this time a rapid current began to float past him, bearing on its surface a quantity of seaweed. The shrewd
Master-Carpenter fancied he saw the matted hair of his enemy floating among the seaweed. He seized hold of it, and after it came South-East. The
latter in a great passion began to call on his nephews to help him. The first to be summoned was Red-storm -cloud. Immediately a deep red suffused
the sky. Then the stormy tints died away, and the wind rose with a harsh murmur.
When this wind had reached it full strength another was summoned, Taker- off- of-the -tree -tops. The blast increased to a hurricane, and the
tree-tops were blown off and carried away and fell thickly about the canoe, where Master-Carpenter was making use of his magic arts to protect
himself. Again another wind was called up, Pebble-rattler, who set the stones and sand flying about as he shrieked in answer to the summons.
Maker-of -the- thick-sea -mist came next, the spirit of fog which strikes terror into the hearts of those at sea, and he was followed by a numerous
band of other nephews, each more to be dreaded than the last. Finally Tidal-wave came and covered Master-Carpenter with water, so that he was
obliged to give in. Relinquishing his hold on South-East, he managed to struggle to the shore. It was said by some that South-East died, but the
shamans, who ought to know, say that he returned to his own place.
South-East's mother was named Tomorrow, and the Indians say that if they utter that word they will have bad weather, for South-East does not like
to hear his mother's name used by any one else.
|Origin of the Gnawing Beaver
A Haida Legend
The Haida of the Queen Charlotte Island off the coast of British Columbia were great hunters of whales and sea otters.
There was a great hunter among the people living at Larhwiyip on the Stikine River. Ever on the alert for new territories, he would go away by
himself for long periods and return with quantities of furs and food. He had remained single, although he was very wealthy and his family begged
him to take a wife. As a true hunter, he observed all the fasts and cleanliness and kept away from women.
One day when he returned from a hunting trip, he said, "I am going to take a wife now. After that I will move to a distant region where I hear that
wild animals are plentiful." So he married a young woman from a neighboring village who, like himself was clever and scrupulous in observing the
rules. When the time came for them to go on their hunting trips, they both kept the fasts of purification, and the hunter got even more furs and food
than he had before.
Some time later, he said to his wife, "Let's go to a new country, where we'll have to stay a long time." After many days of traveling, they came to a
strange land. The hunter put up a hut, where they lived while he built a house. When he had finished it, he and his wife were happy. They would play
with each other every night.
Soon he said to her, "I'm going to my new hunting grounds for two days and a night. I will return just before the second night." In his new territory
he made snares in his trap line, and when these were set, he went home just before sunset on the second day. His wife was very happy, and again
they played together all through the night. After several days, he visited his snares and found them full of game. He loaded his canoe and came back,
again before dark on the second day. Very happy, he met his wife, and they worked to prepare the furs and meat. When they had finished, he set out
once more, saying, "This time I intend to go in a new direction, so I will be away for three sleeps." As he did, and rejoiced in being with his wife again
when he returned.
To amuse herself when she was alone, the woman went down to the little stream flowing by the lodge. She spent most of her time bathing and
swimming around in a small pool while her husband was away. As soon as he returned, she would play with him. No he said, "Since you've become
used to being alone, I'm going on a longer trip." By then he had enlarged his hunting house, and it was full of furs and food.
The woman again took to her swimming. Soon she found the little pool too small for her, so she built a dam by piling up branches and mud. The
pool became a lake, deep enough for her to swim in at ease. Now she spent nearly all her time in the new lake and felt quite happy. When her
husband returned, she showed him the dam she had made, and he was pleased. Before going away once more, he said, "I'll be gone a long time, now
that I know you are not afraid of being alone."
The woman built a little house of mud and branches in the center of the lake. After a swim she would go into it and rest. At night she would return to
the hunting house on land, but as soon as she worked in the morning, she would go down to the lake again.
Eventually she slept in her lake lodge all night, and when her husband came back, she felt uncomfortable staying with him at the house. Now she
was pregnant and kept more to herself, and she preferred to stay in her lake lodge even when her husband was home. To pass the time, she enlarged
the lake by building the dam higher. She made another dam downstream, and then another, until she had a number of small lakes all connected to
the large one in which she had her lodge.
The hunter went away on a last long journey. He had enough furs and food to make him very wealthy, and he planned that they would move back
to his village after this trip. The woman, whose child was due any day, stayed in the water all the time and lived altogether in the lodge. By now it
was partly submerged, and it's entrance was under water.
When the hunter returned this time, he could not find his wife. He looked all over, searching the woods day after day without discovering a trace of
her. He was at a loss, unwilling to go back to his people without knowing her fate, for fear that her family might want to kill him. He returned sadly
to his hunting house every night and each morning resumed the search.
One evening at dusk, he remembered that his wife had spent much of her time in the water. "Perhaps she traveled downstream," he thought. The next
day he walked down to the lake that his wife had dammed and went around it, but he saw nothing of her.
After many days of searching, the hunter retraced his steps. When he came to the large lake, he sat down and began to sing a dirge. Now he knew
that something had happened to his wife; she had been taken by a supernatural power. While he was singing and crying his dirge, a figure emerged
from the lake. It was a strange animal, in its mouth a stick, which it was gnawing. On each side of the animal were two smaller ones, also gnawing
Then the largest figure, which wore a hat shaped like a gnawed stick, spoke. "Don't be so sad! It is I, your wife, and your two children. We have
returned to our home in the water. Now that you have seen me, you will use me as a crest. Call me the Woman-Beaver, and the crest Remnants -of
-Chewing- Stick. The children are First Beaver, and you will refer to them in your dirge as the Offspring of Woman-Beaver."
After she had spoken, she disappeared into the waters, and the hunter saw her no more. At once he packed his goods, and when his canoe was filled,
traveled down the river to his village.
For a long while he did not speak to his people. Then he told them what had happened and said, "I will take this as my personal crest. It shall be
known as "Remnants -of- Chewing- Stick, and forever remain the property of our clan, the Salmon-Eater household." This is the origin of the
Beaver crest and the Remnants -of -Chewing -Stick.
Long ago, among the Haida people, there was a boy who showed no respect for the salmon. Though the salmon meant life for the people, he was not
respectful of the one his people called Swimmer. His parents told him to show gratitude and behave properly, but he did not listen. When fishing, he
would step on the bodies of the salmon that were caught and after eating he carelessly threw the bones of the fish into the bushes. Others warned him
that the spirits of the salmon were not pleased by such behavior, but he did not listen.
One day his mother served him a meal of salmon. He looked at it with disgust. "This is moldy," he said, though the meat was food. He threw it upon
the ground. Then, he went down top the river to swim with the other children. However, as he was swimming, a current caught him and pulled him
away from the others. It swept him into the deepest water and he could not swim strongly enough to escape from it. He sank into the river and
There, deep in the river, the Salmon People took him with them. They were returning back to the ocean without using their bodies. They had left their
bodies behind for the humans and the animal people to use as food. The boy went with them, for now, he belonged to the salmon.
When they reached their home, in the ocean, they looked just like human beings. Their village there in the ocean looked much like his own home and
he could hear the sound of children playing in the stream which flowed behind the village. Now the Salmon People began to teach the boy. He was
hungry and they told him to go to the stream and catch one of their children, who were salmon swimming in the stream. However, he was told, he
must be respectful and after eating return all of the bones and everything he did not intend to eat to the water. Then, he was told, the children would
be able to come back to life, But, if he didn't return the bones, to the water, the salmon child would not come back.
He did as he was told, but one day after he had eaten, when it came time for the children to come up to the village, from the stream, he heard one of
them crying. He went to see what was wrong. The child was limping because one of its feet was gone. Then, the boy realized he had not thrown all
of the fins back into the stream. He quickly found the one fin he had missed, and threw it in and the child was healed.
After he had spent the winter with the Salmon People, it again was spring and time for them to return to the rivers. The boy swam with them, for he
belonged to the Salmon People now. When they swam past his old village, his own mother caught him in her net. When she pulled him from the
water, even though he was in the shape of a salmon, she saw the copper necklace he was wearing. It was the same necklace she had given her son.
She carried Salmon Boy carefully back home. She spoke to him and held him and gradually he began to shed his salmon skin; first, his head. Then,
after eight days, he shed all of the skin and was a human again.
Salmon Boy taught the people all of the things he had learned. He was a healer now and helped them when they were sick.
"I can't stay with you long," he said, "you must remember what I teach you."
He remained with the people until the time came when the old salmon who had gone upstream and not been caught by the humans or the animal
people came drifting back down toward the stream. As Salmon boy stood by the water, he saw a huge old salmon floating down toward him. It was
so worn by its journey that he could see through its sides. He recognized it as his own soul and thrust his spear into it. As soon as he did so, he died.
Then the people of the village did as he told them to do. They placed his body into the river. It circled four times and then sank, going back to his
home in the ocean, back to the Salmon People.
|The Bear and His Indian Wife
A Haida Legend
This story of the Haidas of Queen Charlotte's Island, British Columbia, was told in 1873 by a Haida named Yak Quahu, who heard it related around
the evening fires by the old people of his tribe.
Yak Quahu began: "Not long ago, as our old people tell us, the bears were a race of beings less perfect than our fathers. They used to talk, walk
upright, and use their paws like hands. When they wanted wives, they were accustomed to steal the daughters of our people."
Quiss-an-kweedass and Kind-a-wuss were a youth and maiden in my native village, she the daughter of one of our chiefs, he the son of one of the
Since they were about the same age and had been playmates from youth, their fondness in later years ripened into a love so strong that they seemed to
live for each other.
But while they loved each other, they knew that they could never live as husband and wife, because both were of one crest, the Raven.
By the social laws of the Haidas a mother gives her name and crest to her children, whether Raven, Eagle, Frog, Beaver, or Bear. A man is at liberty
to take a wife from any other crest except the one to which he himself belongs.
While the youth and maiden continued to love each other, time passed unnoticed. Life to them seemed a pleasing dream --from which they were
awakened when both sets of parents reminded them that the time had come for each to marry someone else.
Seeing that these admonitions passed unheeded, their parents resolved to separate them. The lovers were confined in their homes, but they contrived
to slip away and meet outside the village.
They escaped to the woods, resolved to live on the meanest fare in the mountain forests rather than return to be separated.
In a lonely glen under a shady spruce by a mountain stream, they built a hut, to which they always returned at night. While wandering in search of
food they were careful lest they should meet any of their relations.
Thus they lived until the lengthening nights and stormy days reminded them of winter. Quiss-an-kweedass resolved to revisit his home, and to make
the journey alone. Kind-a-wuss preferred to remain in the solitude of the forest rather to face her angry relations.
He promised, however, to return before nightfall of the fourth day.
When he reached home, his parents welcomed him and asked about Kind-a-wuss and her whereabouts since they departed. He told them all, and
when they heard how they lived, and how she had become his wife, their wrath was great.
They told him that he would never go back, and they decided to keep him prisoner until she also returned.
When Quiss-an-kweedass could not get away, he urged his people to let him go and get Kind-a-wuss, for she would never return alone. They were
unmoved by his appeal.
After a considerable time, he managed to escape. He hastened to his mountain home, hoping to meet Kind-a-wuss, yet fearing that something might
When he arrived at the place where they had parted, he found by the footprints on the soft earth that she had started to return to their hut. Drawing
near it, he listened but heard no sound and saw no trace of her.
When he went inside, he was horror-stricken to find that she had not been there since he had left. Where was she? Had she lost her way?
Hoping to find some clue, he searched the hut, looked up and down the stream, went through the timber up to the mountains, calling her by name as
he went along:
"Kind-a-wuss, Kind-a-wuss, where are you? Kind-a-wuss, come to me; I am your own Quiss-an-kweedass. Do you hear me, Kind-a-wuss?"
To these appeals the mountain echoes answered, Kind-a-wuss.
After searching for days, feeling sorrowful and angry, he turned homeward, grieving for the dear one whom he had lost, and angry with his parents,
whom he blamed for his misfortune.
Once there, he told the villagers of his trouble and claimed their assistance. Many responded, among them the two fathers, one anxious for his
daughter's safety, the other disturbed because he had detained his son.
Early on the morning of the third day after Quiss-an-kweedass arrived, he led a party out for a final search to try and find her, dead or alive. But
after ten days, during which they discovered nothing except a place where traces of a struggle were visible, they abandoned the effort.
As weeks gave place to months and months to years, Kind-a-wuss seemed to have been forgotten. She was seldom mentioned, or was referred to
only as the girl who was lost and never found. Yet her lover never forgot; he believed her still alive and did all in his power to find her. Having failed
so often, he thought he would visit a medicine man, or *skaga*, who was clairvoyant.
The *skaga* asked Quiss-an-kweedass if he had anything that the maiden had worn. He gave a part of her clothing to the *skaga*, who took it in his
hand and said:
"I see a young woman lying on the ground; she seems to be asleep. It is Kind-a-wuss. There is something in the bushes, coming toward her. It is a
large bear. He takes hold of her; she tries to get away but cannot. He takes her with him, a long way off. I see a lake. They reach it and stop at a
large cedar tree. She lives in the tree with the bear. I see two children, boys, that she has had by the bear. If you go to the lake and find the tree, you
will discover them all there."
Quiss-an-kweedass lost no time in getting together a second party led by the *skaga*, who soon found the lake and then the tree. There they halted to
consider what it was best to do. It was agreed that Quiss-an-kweedass should call her by name before venturing up a sort of stepladder which leaned
against the tree. After he called her several times, she looked out and said:
"Where do you come from? And who are you?"
"I am Quiss-an-kweedass," said he. "I have sought long years for you. Now that I have found you, I mean to take you home. Will you go?"
"I cannot go with you until my husband, the chief of bears, returns."
After a little conversation, she consented to come down among them; and when they had her in their power, they hastily carried her off home.
Her parents were glad to have their lost child, and Quiss-an-kweedass was overjoyed to recover his loved one. Although she was at home and kindly
welcomed, she was worried for her two sons and wished to return for them.
This her friends would not allow, though they offered to go and fetch them. She replied that their father would not let them go.
"But," said she, "there is a way you might get them."
She explained that the bear had made up a song for her, and if they would go to the tree and sing it, the bear chief would give them whatever they
After learning the song, a party went to the tree and began to sing. As soon as the bear heard the song he came down, thinking that Kind-a-wuss had
returned. When he saw that she was not there, he was upset and refused to let the children go. When the party threatened to take them by force,
however, he agreed to send them to their mother.
Kind-a-wuss told the following story of how she had fallen into the power of the bear. After she had parted from Quiss-an-kweedass and turned back
toward the hut, she had not gone far before she felt tired and sick at heart for her lover.
Deciding to rest a little, she lay down in a dry, shady place and fell asleep. There the bear found her, took her and carried her to his home near the lake.
As the entrance to his house was high above the ground, he had a sort of stepladder whereby he could get easily up and down. He sent some of his
tribe to gather soft moss to make her a bed.
She used to wonder why no one came to look for her; and when the bear saw her downhearted, he would do all in his power to cheer her up.
As the years passed and none of her relations nor her lover came near her, she began to feel at home in the bear's tree house. By the time the search
party arrived, she had given up all hope of being found.
The bear tried to make her comfortable and please her. He composed a song which to this day is known among the children of the Haidas as the Song
of the Bears. I have heard it sung many times.
In 1888 an old acquaintance gave me the words:
I have taken a fair maid from her Haida friends as my wife. I hope her relatives won't come and carry her away from me. I will be kind to her. I will
give her berries from the hill and roots from the ground. I will do all I can to please her. For her I made this song, and for her I sing it.
This is the Song of the Bears, and whoever can sing it has their lasting friendship. Many people learned it from Kind-a-wuss, who never went again
to live with the bear. Out of consideration for her, as well as for the hardships that the lovers had suffered, they were allowed to live as man and wife.
As for the two sons, Soo-gaot and Cun-what, they showed different dispositions as they grew up. Soo-gaot stayed with his mother's people, while the
other returned to his father and lived and died among the bears.
Soo-gaot, marrying a girl belonging to his parental tribe, reared a family from whom many of his people claim to be descended.
The direct descendant of Soo-gaotis a pretty girl, the offspring of a Haida mother and Kanaku father, who inherits all the family belongings, the
savings of many generations.
The small brook which flowed by the mountain home of Quiss-an-kweedass and Kind-a-wuss grew to be a large stream, up which large quantities of
salmon run in season. That stream is in the family to this day, and out of it they catch their food.
|The Cannibal Who Was Burned
A Haida Legend
Five brothers were always hunting. After a while an unknown man came in to them. He came in many times.
Once when he was there, the eldest brother's child began to cry, and after all of the brothers had tried to quiet it without success, he offered to do so; but
when they gave it to him, he secretly sucked the child's brains out from one side of its head.
When he handed it back, and they saw what he had done, they seized wood from the fire and beat the stranger. Then he became angry and killed all of
the brothers but the youngest, whom he chased about in the house until morning.
The boy ran out, and after a long run, still pursued by the ogre, crossed a high mountain. By and by he crossed another, and saw a lake beneath it.
Running farther, he came to a log, composed of two trees growing together so as to make a fork, floating upon the water. Going out upon this, he
threw himself into the crotch.
When the pursuer came up, he saw the man's shadow in the lake, and began jumping at it. Now the man began to sing a North Song, and the lake at
once began to freeze over. When all had frozen over except the small hole where the ogre was jumping, it froze so quickly after he had gone in, that he
could not get out again when he came up. Then he saw the man on the tree, and asked him to pull him out; but the man only sang louder, so that the
ogre was held fast. The man now began to cut some dry wood to build a fire over the ogre's head, telling him at the same time that he was going to
save him. When the fire was lighted, the ashes flying up from the monster's head turned into mosquitoes. That is how they started.
|The Coming of the Salmon
A Haida Legend
The little daughter of the chief cried and cried and cried. She cried because no one could give her that for which she cried. Neither her father, who was a
powerful chief, not the wisest men of the tribe could give her the great, shining fish that she desired. Even the oldest of the tribe had never seen such a
fish. As the little girl cried day and night and grew sick by crying, the chief ordered a great Council Fire.
All of the tribal medicine men sat around the fire, and the wisest of them rose to speak. "The maiden cries for a thing which she has seen in a dream,"
he declared. "Many fish have we in our Inlet, big fish, but none are like the one of which the daughter of our chief speaks. Such a fish may prove big
medicine for our tribe if we can find it. Let our wise men speak. Maybe one of them may know where such a great, gleaming, leaping fish may be
Only one medicine man stood up. After saluting the chief he spoke, "The Raven, who lives among the cedars, is my good friend. He is very wise and
knows many things that the wisest among us know not. Let me bring him to this Council Fire, that he may counsel us."
The chief gave his permission, and the old medicine man left the Council Fire and soon returned with the Raven seated on his shoulder. The great bird
croaked as he spoke, and only the wisest could follow his talk-trail.
"What the daughter of the chief asks for is a giant fish, known as a Salmon. In this moon, they are to be found far from here at the mouth of a mighty
river, which flows into the other side of our Inlet. Because those of your tribe are my friends, I will fly swift and far to bring one of these fish to your
Before the chief could thank it, the big bird was high in the air. It flew far, and fast as a harpoon travels, until its keen eyes saw, far beneath, many
Salmon swimming together at the mouth of the river. The Raven dived quick as a hawk and, by chance, caught the little son of the Salmon Chief in his
talons. Rising high in the air, with the fish held firmly in his claws, the Raven flew toward the distant village of his friends.
Salmon Scouts, leaping high from the water, in great flashing arcs, saw the direction in which the Raven flew. A horde of Salmon, led by their chief,
swam rapidly in pursuit. Speedily as the fish swam, the fast-flying bird reached the village far ahead of them.
The Raven placed the great fish before the little daughter of the chief. She smiled and cried no more. Then the bird told his friend, the old medicine
man, that many Salmon would be sure to swim into the river inlet, in pursuit, to try and rescue the young Salmon which he had caught.
The medicine man told the chief what the Raven had said, and the fishermen and women were told to weave a huge net. This they did swiftly, and
when the Salmon came, all of the fish were caught in the net. To hold them prisoner, a long, strong leather thong was passed through their gills. One
end of the thong was tied to a big rock and the other end was fastened to this great totem pole, which then grew as a tall cedar. Ever since, it has been
called the 'Nhe-is-bik' or tethering pole. On this pole - a totem pole - there was carved a mighty Thunderbird, an Indian Chief, a Raven and a Salmon,
carved in that order from the top of the great cedar pole. The end of this story tells of great magic. Year after year, from that time, the Salmon passed
on that side of the river Inlet, and the people were glad.
Behind Frederic Island there was a village with many people in it. A crowd of boys and girls was playing on the beach when they saw a strange
woman wearing a fur cape such as they had never seen before.
A little boy walked up to her to find out who she was, and the others followed. She was indeed strange. One boy pulled at her garment, which was like
a shirt. He pulled it way up and saw her backbone, a funny-looking thing with "Chinese slippers", a plant that grows on the seashore, sticking out of it.
This made the children laugh and jeer.
When they heard the children's clamor, the old people told them to stop laughing at the stranger. At that moment the tide was at it's low ebb, and the
woman sat down at the water's edge. The tide began to rise, and the water touched her feet. She moved up a little and again sat down. The water rose
again, and again she moved back. Now she sat down at the edge of the village.
But the tide kept rising; never before had it come so high. The villagers grew frightened and awe-struck.
Having no canoes, they did not know how to escape, so they took big logs, tied them together into a raft, and placed their children on it. They packed
the raft with dried salmon, halibut, and baskets of spring water for drinking.
Meanwhile the stranger kept sitting down, and when the tide came up to her, moving away to higher ground, up the hillside, up the mountain. Many
people saved themselves by climbing onto the raft with the children. Others made more rafts, until there were a number afloat.
The whole island was now covered by the sea, and the hundreds and hundreds of survivors were drifting about without being able to stop, since they
had no anchors. By and by the people saw peaks sticking out of the ocean. One of the rafts drifted to a piece of land and its survivors stepped off there,
while other rafts were beached elsewhere.
It was at that time that the tribes became dispersed.
|Wolf and the Sea
A Haida Legend
Once a man found two wolf pups on the beach, he took them to his home and raised them.
When the pups had grown, they would swim out in to the ocean, kill a whale, and bring it to shore for the man to eat.
Each day they did this, soon there was too much meat to eat and it began to spoil.
When the Great Above Person saw this waste he made a fog and the wolves could not find whales to kill nor find their was back to shore.
They had to remain at sea, those wolves became sea wolves (Orca).