Indian Mythology | Stillaguamish Mythology

Legends of the Stillaguamish



On the Suiathl lived a small but strong tribe. Their last chief was Wah-Wihlkd. These poeple were strong and great hunters, traveling much up in the high country, in summer and fall. There they killed goats, bear and deer, cured and prepared Skabiatch (dried venison), picked Soudahk (huckleberries) and El-el-bihk (blueberries), dried them and brought down to their homes--supplies for the long winter. In the late fall and winter they trapped or snared Shweetlai (the mountain goat), for its meat and hide and long hair; of this hair they made twine and yarn. From the yarn they made the wonderful goat-hair blankets and bags that are now rarely seen. One house of the Suiathl was located at Tenas creek. It was very strong and had a story-pole in front. A little further up the river was another house, slightly smaller. This house also had a fine story-pole. Near this house was a little creek. Close by the creek was a pit where for years and years the Suiathl had thrown the bones of animals. This pile became big. Balaujah (Bones), that name was given to the little creek. The Suiathl were a branch of the Sauks. The last big chief of the Prairie people was Kwaoutkd, and :he last big chief of the Upper Sauk was Wawatkid.

The Canoe Maker

On the Pilchuck lived and worked part of `he year the Canoe-maker. He did not make canoes alone. Handling the big logs took more than one man. But he had a good eye for the best trees and for the shaping of the canoes. When a good tree had been selected, the fillers commenced their work. Their tools were chisel and hammer. Their best chisel was a tool about 8 or 10 inches long and one-half to two inches wide, made of bone or elkhorn, and called queahad. Striking the end of the handle with the hammer (skaat-scheed with long handle, or tab-tab, a similar tool without handle) the wood was chewed away all around a tree until it fell down, then chided off at the proper length and split.

The same tools were used to split off and form the outside. For the ends and inside was used another tool, a short slightly curved chisel, tied loosely to a handle. Holding this in one hand and hitting the bead of the chide with the other, the chips would fly and the canoe take form. Sometimes when the outside of the canoe was partly formed it would be put in the water and little fires started all over the top, these would eat out holes and save a lot of chopping. Generally the canoe was very narrow and high in the middle. This was changed by spreading the sides, first in the middle, and then towards the ends. For a smooth finish the canoe was scraped and rubbed inside and out with gritty rocks. Sometimes the finishing touches was a thorough greasing or painting all over. It was, perhaps, also its owner's coffin and therefore was always made well--something to take pride in.

The Creeks

First among the big creeks was Toli-Dachub (the Pilchuck). Here was game in abundance. The Staku-Hatchu (beaver marsh or lake) near the mouth, elk, deer and bear from the mouth to the headwaters.

Next Klee-ekub, the Deer creek at Oso, the home of Kae-owah, a family of steelhead. Near the mouth of Deer creek was a permanent Indian camp. The families who lived there had another camp near Hazel.

Then further up the river was Kal-ub (the Boulder) the long creek that comes all the way from Queest-Alb (Three Finger mountain)-up where Sweet-lai family lives.

Further up the river was Snakub (French creek), the home of the mountain beaver. Last but not least, Ke-kepalitch (Squire creek), the home of the finest trout. Each of these creeks and the surrounding territory was the particular hunting ground of several families of Indians that happened to live near them.

The Flood

One time, long ago, the waters in the whulge came up high, and flooded all the country way up into the mountains. First a big black Thunderbird flew over the country and made much noise, then it beget to rain. It rained and rained. The water came up and up, and when it stopped there were only some high hills and mountains sticking out. After a 'long time it went down again. You can see sometimes now clamshells high up in the hills, and some places up in the mountains white logs lying just like on the beach. They were left there by the water.

The Graveyards

No more are the graveyards of the Indian,. With the coming of the white settlers they disappeared. When Indians died they went to a far country where the good things of life were more abundant--especially good hunting. They left their bodies here, and these were put into a canoe. By the body was laid some of their personal belongings, weapons and packstraps--things they might need on the journey. Members of the tribe would take them to the graveyard. The canoe was dragged ashore, hoisted up among the trees, and tied to limbs, there to hang in a horizontal position. During the dragging and hoisting, singers would chant a magic song to help the deceased on the journey. In the tree tops above the graveyard sat Kla-akhs (the Raven) watching that no one molested the dead.

Some of these Indians graveyards such as the one near the river on the east end of the Matter and place near Stanwood, were quite big. There hung at least 40 canoes when the first settlers came. For sanitary reasons the Indians were asked to remove and dispose of the dead by burial, which they did.

The Longhouse

Across the river from Trafton, a short distance below the bridge, stood the Stolouckquamish Longhouse, 30 paces long acid 6 wide, a door in the middle of the front side. From fireplaces inside pictures were painted on the walls. One part of the roof overlapped the other at the top so smoke could leak out but rain could not come in. The walls were made of long, finely hewn boards nailed to heavy studdings. Along the walls all around the room was a row of wide benches also used as beds. A well-built and fine Longhouse, said those who saw it. Here about 50 years ago was held a big Sque-que. In the daytime when Shloqualb shone and in the night when Snoquahl and the Chosads shone, six times it lasted, and everybody had a good time singing. dancing and telling stories. At that time the Indians had acquired a taste for Boston grub and those in charge provided 150 lbs. beans, 200 lbs. of flour and 100 lbs. sugar, and lots of other things. The celebration lasted a week and the house was always crowded. This house was washed out by the river long ago.

The Thunder Tamanois

He who gets the spirit of the Thunder may be almost immune to death by knife or spear wounds. Spul-kaedib when young got the tamano1is of Thunder. He had 17 knife wounds and survived them all. Once when down at Skabalko he and his brother got into an argument with some people which ended in a little battle. The brother got out of it unscathed but Spul-kaedib was badly cut up. His brother got him into a canoe and poled up the river. For several hours he poled and Spul-kaedib, who was lying in the bottom of the canoe, was getting pretty weak, but he made signs that he wanted to get into the water. When about a mile from camp near what is now Hazel, the canoe was pulled on shore and Spul-kaedib rolled into the water. Immediately the skies became clouded-they had been perfectly clear before. Soon rain began to fall, thunder pealed and heavy showers poured into the valley. All of a sudden the storm ceased, the sun came out and Spul-kaedib came out of the water looking like a new man. His wounds healed quickly and so proved that his tamanois was ever looking out for him.

The Tide Lake

Old time Indians once found a big lake way back in the mountains. In this lake was a small island. In this island was a big hole. At regular intervals lots of water bubbled out of the hole. This water tasted salt, just like the whulge. Suddenly the water would stop, then the waters of the lake would begin running into the hole faster and faster end the lake would get low just like low tide. Those who saw this lake said: Maybe this is where the tides in the whulge are made. This hole where the waters go in and out must reach clear to the whulge.

The Whetstone

Down at Utsalady the Indians found a stone that was the very best for sharpening their cutting instruments. Axes, chisels, knives and scrapers of hard rock, bone and horn could be made very sharp if rubbed on this stone. Flat pieces of this stone were found all around the old Indian camps. Most of these were used up. At one time the rock where these stones were chipped off was as big as a big house. Now it is as low as low tide and has been that way a long time.

The Wren and the Water Ousel
Stilpakad and Hoh-Te-Kogds

Along the rivers and little creeks lives a small bird that jumps up and down all the time. He lives on bugs and little worms in the water. He can dive and swim and seldom goes away from along the water. When he sees other birds on the land and in the trees along the streams he talks very much. One time he made a long talk to Stilpakad, the wren, saying: "You land birds don't know very much, you are afraid of the water. I am both wise and strong; suppose you wrestle with me." Wren said: "You don't know as much as you think. There are many things you don't know much about. Maybe if you come on land and wrestle with me I shall win. But I am in a hurry." Many days the Water Ousel talked to the Wren and wanted to wrestle. At last Wren said: "Now soon I will wrestle you." He was much smaller than Ousel, so he figured out a plan while sitting by the campfire. First he threw away the brands then leveled out the ashes so it looked cold, but there were hot coals underneath. Then he said: "If you want to now, you big-talking bird, come up here on this level ground, and I will wrestle you." The Ousel came up jumping up and down all the time. Wren got him between himself and the ashes. All at once he jumped straight at Ousel who fell backward into the ashes, and was overcome by the fire. Wren jumped up and down on him until he was still. Then he fluttered his wings and blew the ashes over him so he could not be seen. Wren said: "One bird thought he knew everything, but he didn't." Next day he saw Water Ousel in the creek but he was a very quiet bird.

Stillaguamish Mythology

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