Legend Telling How Indians Obtained Fire Long time ago Indian, hee’s got trouble all the time; hee’s got no fire to cook meat and make warm. Spose you like to hear how Indian got some fire? This time, long time ago, animal just same way like man. He talk, everybody understand. Fur and skin he put on and take off just like coat. Same way everybody-animals, birds and fish. Well, this time everybody talk all the time bout fire. He say: This way we make cook and warm, hee’s no good. First we put stuff in basket and then all dance around in ring long time. Everybody make very tired. Don’t feel good to eat. Now this time one day a Grizzly he make big talk and say: “We got to catch some fire. Make everybody all over come to this big meeting place and make big talk bout fire. Then he send some fellows all over tell everybody to come to this place, and everybody come-Stikiou (Wolf) Shweet-lai (Goat) S’beau (Fox) and everybody little and big. Now, this very big meeting. First they talk, best talker for bear, for elk, for wolf, for everybody, and say: “This way we get cook meat and keep warm now is no good.” Then best talker like lawyer in white man’s court say: “We know where is fire up in the sky...Read More
Collection: Indian Stories and Legends of the Stillaguamish
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 and venison. From Ba-quab there was a trail to Kellogg Marsh, to Quil Ceda and on to the Snohomish....Read More
The Indian had no law books. He had the unwritten law. It worked. For instance a man accused of adultery was tried by members of the tribe and if found guilty, he was publicly flogged. If the crime was, repeated he was given a heavier dose and the third time banished. The methods of dealing with law violators varied greatly among the different tribes....Read More
Wolf and Dog 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. Wolf and Coyote used to live together; Wolfe was head of the family. When food was scarce Coyote was sent to the Indian camps to pick up bones and scraps, and bring them home for food. This worked well for a while, but Coyote began to cheat. He would eat what he found and stay too long around camps, bringing very little home. Wolfe warned him saying: “You soon will lose your home with us if you cheat.” It did not help. Wolf followed him near to a camp one day and found Coyote roaming lazily around and eating what he found. That night Wolf said to Coyote: “Now I am through with you; hereafter you can stay by the camps and be Indian’s dog.” This may have been the ancestor of Shle-kah, the dog of whose hair the Indians made yarn and twine. Some tribes made blankets with the yarn. It was very desirable to get these dogs mated with the wolf. The resulting squeek-mie (pups) sometimes made fine hunting...Read More
About a mile above Hat Slough (To Toluqe) lived Ku-kwil Khaedib, a big man in councils, well known and respected among his people. From the To Toluque country to Toll Dachub (the Pilchuck) he and his family could fish, hunt and pick berries without interfering with any one’s else rights. His house (Alhal) was big and long, and could shelter many people, which was quite necessary because there were held councils and many men came to talk over important matters together. Around the big house lived many relatives in small houses. Along the river banks and across country were trails. The camps were not far apart and runners could run from one camp to the other in relays to carry news, or warn each other in case of danger. Ku-kwil Khaedib had many blankets and many canoes. Tlai’s (shovelnose) for the river and Stie Wathl for the Whinge (Sound). He, with crews of paddlers, made long journeys on the Sound. One of his chief assistants on these journeys was his nephew, Da-quashkid (Splitlip Jim), at that time a young man. They made trips to Seattle and Nishqually. On these trips they heard of and attended the big potlaches up and down the Sound, and extended invitations to their own. At Port Susan, near Warm Beach, were held at long intervals potlaches or Sque-ques, lasting several days, with feasting, barbecue...Read More
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 Matterand 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....Read More
All over Skagit and parts of Whatcom and Snohomish counties, the Indians used at times to be greatly worried about a mysterious tribe of wild Indians, who lived way up in the mountains back of Mt. Baker. Nobody had ever seen their homes. They traveled all over the country by night and lived by thievery. They knew everything about the other tribes. Those who offered resistance to them they would pester and harass at every opportunity. Many Indians were very careful when traveling at night for fear of the Steet-athls. Their tracks were sometimes seen in the snow. One way of finding out if they frequented a certain locality was to set up a stick in a fresh mound of dirt. If the stick was knocked down and no tracks found in the dirt, the Steet-athls had surely been there. If the sticks were undisturbed the place was safe. The Steet-athls talked and signaled to each other like the lithe birds, whistling and chirping. One Indian said to me that he had heard them around and wishing to avoid trouble he called out: My roothouse door is open, my smokehouse door is open, you can come and help yourself. They helped themselves to a little and left. Since then he has never been bothered. The Chugualitch (proper name for Skagit, especially the county from the junction of the Sauk...Read More
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...Read More
Tsahlbilt, the stronghouse keeper, was a respected man-big, strong and wise. All the Indians between Kee-kee-alos (the delta of the Skagit) Chigos (the highlands of Camano), Quadsak (the lowlands around Stanwood), Splaidid (Warm Beach) and the Upper Stoluckquamislr, knew him. He had good medicine to keep raiders away. At the junction of a slough with the river, just east of the present town of Stanwood, was built the stronghouse-big logs for walls and long, thick slabs for roof. Around the house was a deep trench with a lot of sharp pointed stakes in the bottom. Over this trench was laid a network of sticks, on top of the sticks a layer of turf-a fine trap for an attacking enemy, but easy of access for one who knew the right place to step. In this house was kept blankets, fine baskets, hiaqua, etc., and Tsahlbilt was its keeper. It sometimes happened that Sklalams and King George Indians came in big raiding parties to capture slaves and take what they could of valuables. Highly priced were goat hair blankets. Once a party of fine strange men attacked the stronghouse; three fell in the pit and the two others had to retreat, and went wailing down the river in their canoe. The keeper pulled the others out of the trench and threw them into the river. They floated down stream and were...Read More
From Skabalko at Arlington to Klatsko (Jim Creek) on the Achalitch (South Fork) was the home of the Achalitchamish (people). They hunted and fished over a lot of good country. The last well known man of this tribe was Stiabalth, son of Stadahahlt. At Klatsko at one time lived a woman who became the great, great grandmother of nearly all the people of the Stolouck and Achalitch. A great hunter of Klatsko traveled all the way to Chemacum before he found the right one. He brought her home and she was honored by his...Read More
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...Read More
Up near Big Lake in Skagit county stand the big rocks. They can be seen from the highway. Have you experienced a strange feeling when you passed them? Well this is why. They are the soul thieves Jid-was the largest, Dsa-kokd-suk, the next in size, and a couple of smaller ones. These rocks, malicious and crafty, stood in waiting to rob Indians of their souls. If man or woman were not in good health when they passed these rocks, they were in grave danger. Now and then, perhaps once in 5 years, some person would turn up crazy. Some would all of sudden run wild, dash right into the brush and stop all worn out. Others would jump around and sing senseless songs. Those who saw them knew what had happened, and immediately sent for the best tamanois (doctor) who would go to the rocks to recapture the victim’s soul. It tools extreme skill and cunning to do this, because the rocks began throwing the souls back and forth between them. But a good doctor of strong tamanois can do wonders. When the soul was brought back and entered its owner the dementia dissapeared. Many an Indian feeling week or timid traveled a long ways around to avoid the rocks. Those who knew best the power of the rocky were the Tsil-ahlibs, the tribe of the Hatchu (Lakes)....Read More
Shweetlai and Quaguilch Once goat was brown and deer was white. They both had much trouble avoiding their enemies, because brown goat on white snow could be so easily seen, also white deer in dark woods. One day they met and talked over a plan to make it better for both. Both all of a sudden said: “Suppose we try to trade coats and see how it goes.” They did and after that they had very little trouble in avoiding their enemies. Goat was hard to see near gray rocks or white snow, and deer was hard to see in the woods....Read More
Along the river there was a camp where lived many birds. They lived on land and in the trees, and eat berries, bugs, and worms. Sometimes they talked about others who did not live as they did, and said things about them. About Kingfisher they said: “He is a careless bird, flying away from home all the time. He surely can’t take care of his family.” One day- Kingfisher heard this and he stopped and said: “You only feed yourself; see, I bring home a fish every day for my wife and family, and never have trouble at home. That is my way of...Read More
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...Read More
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