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More Stillaguamish Stories
Kuishan and Shuksan
Way up on the Skagit live two big mountains. Sometimes mountain Tyees get mad and makes a big fire. Once this happened with Kulshan; he got so mad over something that a big piece fell off and slid way down the mountain. This made a big fire and lots of noise. Kuishan and Shuksan became black all over. The waters in the rivers became black and warm. Fish came floating down the rivers cooked. Lots of Indians and animals fled from the upper Skagit and came to Kee-ke-alos and Stillaguamish. Next year most of them went back again. Since then Kulshan has never been mad.
So-Bahli-Ahli, Ska-Duloas and Qua-Hae-Eths
Those of you who have traveled the Arlington-Darrington road, and in clear weather have looked up at the long ridge of Mt. Higgins, have surely seen the long parallel gashes running slantwise from the top of the ridge down to the rockslides. They are best seen from near Fortson. You may have wondered how it happened. Well here is how: So-bahli-ahli (White Horse Mt.) was once a women. She had come from east of the mountains. Near where she settled lived a man, Qua-hae-eths. She liked him. very much, and he became her man, and they lived happily together, but this was not to last. Up from the whulg (Sound) carne another woman, Ska-dulvas (Mt. Higgins) a young maiden of many charms.
She looked at Quay-hae-eths, envied So-bahli-ahli and decided to steal him. She dressed herself in beautiful colors, mostly red; smiled at and talked nice to the man. He made a move toward her! she suddenly grabbed him, and placed him behind her. Then a battle began. The noise was terrific; hair flew all over the sky; rocks whizzed through the air, hit their mark, rolled down and made big rock piles down below. The battle ended in victory for Ska-duloas, but she was disfigured for life by So-bahli-ahli who reached over and with her fingernails scratched those deep gashes across the face of her enemy. The man did not interfere the least in the battle. He just stood still and looked on. He stands there yet, the highest bald nob on the north east of Mt. Higgins.
Old Indian Camps
Here and there may yet be found traces of old Indian camps. On a
little tour of investigation in 1910, the writer looked over three
old camp sites. The most interesting and easiest to find was the one
at Mrs. Leque's place a short distance east of Stanwood. This camp
must have been used for a long time. There was a mound covering at
least half an acre, and at some points as much as five feet higher
than the level of the adjoining land. It seemed to be built up
entirely of clamshells, rocks, bones and refuse. Some of the
clamshells were immense, 5 and 6 inches long. The location of the
camp was ideal-on the river bank with unobstructed view for a long
way both up and down stream. A little slough swings in behind the
camp on the southeast side, making a fine place to hide a number of
canoes. No doubt this was at one time a very busy place. You may
find traces of their camps from Stanwood to Hat Slough, but hardly
any as conspicuous as this one.
Shla-ahk, the Story Teller
Perhaps you would like to hear who first told the story about the
fire war. It was Shla-ahk (the Otter). For a long time the people
did not know just how they had gotten the first fire. Many stories
were told mostly by S'beau, how he had gotten it for them. But they
had a suspicion that Otter, the quiet and mysterious, knew. They
asked him to tell. He put them off with excuses, but at last said.
"If some one will cut my mouth open wider, I will tell." So they
took a sharp stone knife and cut Otter's mouth open on both sides.
That is why his mouth now looks like a straight line across his
face. First Shla-ahk. told them that Chub, the little fish with the
round mouth, was a signal man during the war. He with his puckered
mouth could whistle the best. Then he gave the story. When through
with that he gave the- names of just a few of those who had taken
part in the councils and the war. Here they are: Shwutsu (Squirrel),
Squay-akud (Whistling Warmot), another signalman; Snakubsh (Mountain
Beaver), Buts-ats (Snake), Putschub (Wildcat) Buschub (Mink),
Skadish (Muskrat), Klah-kah (Crow), Chee-eth (Kingfisher), Klah-Okhs
(Raven), Suk-whay (Sparrow) and Skai-ki (Blue Jay), All of these
people played some special part in the war and if each one's story
were told you would all be tired out with listening.
From Toll Dachib to Skabalko, the junction of the rivers at
Arlington, were several temporary camps. Skabalko was known far and
wide. Sauks traveling to the Sound and back, Snohobish coming down
the South fork, parties coming up river to dig for roots,
spaykoolitz and leek at Ba-quab (Kent's Prairie) nearly always
stopped there and camped. At Bah-quab lived an old man and woman
about 50 years ago. They seldom left their home, but kept watch over
the Prairie, dug roots and gave to travelers in exchange for fish
In the time before the white settlers came, the
Indians did not have the kind of dog they have now. They had
Shle-kah, a gray-brown collie-like dog with long hair. No one seems
to know where this dog came from. Some say he came from the far
north. But a story is told by others.
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Indian Stories and Legends of the Stillaguamish and Allied Tribes
Copyright Indian Mythology, 2006