Pacific NW: Two Thunder Bird Stories

This story is part of the Pacific Northwest unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon, by Katharine Berry Judson (1910).

The Golden Age

Long ago the world was only a great sheet of water. There was no land. There were no people. Only the Thunder Bird lived. The beating of its wings was thunder. Its glance was lightning.

Then the Thunder Bird flew down and touched the water. Thus the earth arose. Then the Thunder Bird flew down again and touched the earth. Thus the animals were created.

Thus Thunder Bird created all living things except people. Dog was the ancestor of the Tinne.

Then Thunder Bird gave to the Tinne a sacred arrow. This arrow was never to be used or lost.

Thus the Tinne, because of the sacred arrow, never died. Men wore out their throats with eating. Men lived so long their feet wore out from walking. Thus the Tinne were happy.

Then they disobeyed Thunder Bird. They used the sacred arrow; therefore Arrow flew away. Thus the Tinne now die as do other Indians.

Origin of the Thunder Bird

LONG, long ago, Toe-oo-lux, South Wind, travelled to the north. There Toe-oo-lux met Quoots-hooi, the giantess.

Toe-oo-lux said, "I am hungry. Give me something to eat."

Quoots-hooi said, " I have nothing to eat. You can get food by fishing."

So South Wind dragged the net. He caught tanas-eh-ko-le. He caught a little whale. South Wind took his stone knife to kill the whale.

Then the giantess said, "Use a sharp shell. Do not use your knife. Slit tanas-eh-ko-le down the back. Do not cut him crossways."

South Wind pretended not to hear. South Wind cut the whale across the back. Suddenly the fish changed into an immense bird. The bird's wings darkened the sun. The flapping of its wings shook the earth. This bird was the Thunder Bird.

He flew to the north and lighted on Swal-al-a-host, near the mouth of Great River. Then South Wind and the giantess travelled north to find him.

One day, picking berries, Quoots-hooi found the nest of Thunder Bird. The nest was full of eggs. Quoots-hooi broke one egg. It was not good, so she threw it down the mountain side. Before it reached the valley it became an Indian. Quoots-hooi threw down other eggs. Each egg became an Indian. That is how the Chehalis Indians were created.

Indians never cut the first salmon across the back. If they did, the salmon would not run. Always Indians slit the first salmon down the back.

(400 words)

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