|Indian Mythology | Stillaguamish Mythology|
Sauk Prairie Legend and History
At one time Sauk Prairie was a big marshland and belonged to the Beavers. Indian tribes used to send out scouts to locate hunting, fishing and camping grounds. One of these scouts found what is now Sauk Prairie. In and around the marsh were many plants with edible roots, many kinds of berries, also much small game and birds. The scout had a vision of a great summer camp for his tribe. He wanted to secure the marsh for them and began dickering with the Beavers. 'They agreed to part with it for some pieces of hard wood with which to sharpen their teeth and with the understanding that thereafter the Indian should be friendly with the Beavers.
The scout brought his people up one spring. They thought it a wonderful place, and at once pulled out the dams which the Beavers had made, when most of the water rushed out. Then everybody went to work pulling out plants and bushes that did not have edible root or berries, leaving all that had. Salmon berries, thimbleberries, huckleberries, spaykoolits (leek), etc.
This they did year after year, sometimes bringing in and planting new varieties. So in time Sauk Prairie became known far and wide for its wealth of good roots and berries.
The first fall after all the winter supplies had beet: prepared, meat cured, berries dried, fish and roots pounded together, all the Indians left for their homes down the river. The second year some of the people started gambling and became so possessed with the spirit of the sticks that they forgot to prepare for the trip down river, so they built winter houses and stayed over. No body suffered from want of food, because deer came right to their doors and there was fish in river and sloughs.
This started the permanent camps at the Prairie. More and more people came up the rivers. Those coming up the Stillaguamish crossed at Kuds-al-kaid (the Portage) a short distance below what is now Darrington.
Once, after the white man had come, the Indians at Sauk Prairie heard that a missionary from the Sound wanted to come to them and start a small church. Some of the Indians who had visited Tulalip said that the good Indians who had been baptized were no better than before, but the bad ones who had been baptized seemed to be just as bad as ever. The Prairie people talked it over and said something must be done. A council was held. The wise men discussed the problem. One much-traveled Indian said: "Way over the mountains near a place called Walla Walla are two missionaries. Their religion must be good because nearly all the Indians over there speak well of them. Why not send some men over there to hear and see, so if we have to build a church and if we want to accept the white man's religion we can do it ourselves and not have to take orders from Stilacoom or Tulalip missionaries."
The council then decided to send eleven men to Walla Walla. They went by way of Indian Pass, stayed nearly all summer and came back with good reports. After hearing them the Prairie people built a church, put a fence around it, also setting aside a plot of ground for a cemetery. They adopted the new religion in part but decided to still keep what they thought best of their own beliefs and rules of conduct.
This church or meeting house stood but a few years. Some white men came up the Skagit and Sauk-probably prospectors. They brought fire water. One night the church and everything around it was destroyed.
An Indian once said to me: "That time wise Indian say, 'White man bring some good things, but more bad things to spoil our people. It will be long time before we can all be good friends.'"
Story of So-Obdi
Yes, this man So-obdi, he's called that name by his mother maybe, when he's little boy. She like to see him make big hunter. Maybe first he's just good hunter (Tu-shwi-whi) like other Indian, and then sometime he make big hunt, kill Grizzly (Tep-taable). Then other Indian call him So-obdi. Well this boy all the time quick learn to shoot bow and arrow, throw spear, run and travel long time. He run with dogs, he run with man. He learn to jump quick, this way, that way. Maybe hee's got to jump quick some time to spear animal. If this boy pack something all the time on his back, and walk straight be grow up straight and strong.
If he make good hunter boy, maybe he go along with man on big hunt. If he make good run and big kill, better than other man, he's So-obdi.
Spose sometime Indian camp like some meat, Sklayquatz (elk) Quagwilch (deer) Chet-wot (bear). He take along many men, go to place where be know animal stay. One place in mountain he get some elk. He send out Indian in big ring open some place where elk can't get away, but jump off big rock, and get killed, or stay and get shot and speared. Bye and bye when everybody is all around, big ring come in, come close more and more all the time. Maybe ring is 4, 5 mile. Bye and bye hee's small. Elk come to this open place; So-obdi and Tu-shwi-whi jump in. Some elk jump off rock and get killed; other elk can't jump out of ring and Indian get him. Hunters he's much tired. Indian woman come along for big hunt. This time she come and help skin up elk and fix meat. Indian woman stay by camp close by where hunter he think he can get meat. This day after hunt, everybody have big time, big feed.
Indian save everything from animal-skin, horns, meat, bones, inside, everything he can use for something. He's not like some white man and cougar. Indian bring home by pack on back, by pony, by canoe. Next time he maybe go hunt deer same way. He don't bring much dog on elk or deer hunt, just sometimes. For bear dog he's good; make bear crazy. All dogs jump around bear and So-obdi he jump quick around with spear. This work for best hunter. For grizzly he's hard time, big time for best hunter. This So-obdi, make good chief. Then maybe best woman in other family she get her father to help make big time, and make marry with this man.
For goat and sheep Indian he don't shoot much. He's make snare. He find place in mountain where goat travel through narrow place. This place he fix up with cedar barkrope, maybe cherrybark rope, by place where goat can jump off and hang himself. From goat hair Indians make fine blanket, maybe fine bed. From deer and black bear he get much meat, and skin for clothes. Nearly all Indians good Tu-shwi-whi; some So-obdi.
Over on the Snohomish, a long time ago, was born an Indian boy. His mother and father wished him to become a great hunter, so they named him So-obdi. His mother made him fine packstraps and taught him to walk straight. His father sent him out on long trips to get acquainted with the country and to learn how to take care of himself. When about 18 years old he followed the Indian custom of going out in the mountains to fast, and to receive his tamanois. The spirits told him that if he would dive in a certain lake, that had squawfish in it, he would receive much stronger tamanois and a great fortune.
He must travel and ask many tribes the direction to this lake. He went home to outfit and start out again.
Coming to Klackto he inquired and was directed to go down the Achlitch to the Skabalko. There the people told him to go up the Stoluckwabsh to Kleek-ekub (Deer creek). There the people told him of a big lake up in the hills to the west, where lived lots of squawfish. He found the lake, and after proper fasting began to dive. He dived and dived, but some strange influence prevented him from seeing anything. Now at this time there was a camp at the north west end of Lake Cavanaugh, where a large family had made their summer home. Some of these people saw this strange young man diving. They considered this lake their own hunting and fishing ground and did not welcome anyone but known and friendly people. This man was a stranger, and thinking that perhaps he was scouting for another tribe they stole up on him suddenly and asked his business. He was so surprised that he could not give a satisfactory answer. So they decided to capture him. They threw a spear and just as he dived hit one of his heels. They could not discover where he came up, so they thought he had drowned. But long practice had made him a good diver; he swam under water, came up among some weeds by the shore and made his escape. He returned to Trafton and again started to look for lakes in the hills and mountains. Up in the Sultan country he found a lake in which lived squawfish. He straightaway began to dive. When he came up he saw an Indian girl sitting on a rock watching him. This seemed very strange because there were no camps anywhere near this lake. He called to her but she did not answer. He went closer to see what kind of a creature she was. Indian girls grown up are supposed to be very careful and not say much to young men. But in answer to his question she told him that she had wandered off from a berry-picking party and got lost. He forgot his diving and built a fire. He caught fish and cooked a meal. The girl had swam to the rock to be safe from dangerous animals. She was hungry and a meal and company were welcome. Night came on and the fire kept prowlers away. In the morning they saw deer on a little bar by the lake, goat in a rockslide across above the lake, berries and grouse all around. A regular paradise and nobody to shoot them in the heels.
What greater fortune than just the proprietorship of this lake. He found flint slivers by the shore. She made grass mats. All fall they stayed up there. When they came down they carried heavy packs of hides, dried meat and berries, also precious flint. Great was the surprise when the girl returned to her people. She told them of the young man, and her father said "just such a fine man and great hunter you should have for a husband." So they called together a big party, and he with due ceremony gave her to So-obdi.
This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied .
Indian Stories and Legends of the Stillaguamish and Allied Tribes
Copyright Indian Mythology, 2006