BNA: Origin of the Chinook Wind

This story is part of the British North America unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of British North America by Katharine Berry Judson (1917).

Origin of the Chinook Wind

FOX and Hare were brothers. They lived together with many other people. This was in the days of the grandfathers when there was no fire and the earth was very cold. The Cold People of the north delighted in making icy winds sweep down over the Indian country. The people shivered, shivered always.

One morning Fox smoked his pipe and muttered, "Last night I dreamed. I gained much knowledge."

When Fox had finished smoking, he said to the people, "The People of the Cold have had power over us for a long time. Do you like the cold?"

The Indians at once said, "No. We hate the cold, but we do not know what to do."

After a while Fox said to Hare, "Come with me. We will find warm weather."

Now Fox and Hare were great warriors. They took their bows and arrows and traveled south many days. They reached the mouths of the large rivers where dwelt the People of the Heat. They owned all the heat, and they were enemy to the Cold People. Their chief was Sun, and they lived always in warm weather, sunshine, and mild winds.

Fox knew just what to do because his dream had told him. When Fox and Hare entered the House of Sunshine, they saw a large round bag hanging on a post. It contained the chinook wind. Fox at once ran and struck the bag with his fist, trying to burst it. At once the Heat People jumped up to stop him, but Hare held his bow with arrow drawn on them so that they were afraid. Again Fox ran at the bag and struck it. The fourth time he tried, the bag burst and the chinook wind rushed out. Then Fox and Hare ran along with the wind, and the Heat People made the weather exceedingly hot so as to overcome them.

At last the heat became so intense that the country took fire, and the Heat People made the fire run with the wind so as to overtake Fox and Hare. But Fox and Hare were great warriors. They were very swift-footed, so they kept ahead. Thus the earth burned up for a long distance north and many trees and people were destroyed.

Hare kept just far enough ahead of the fire to have time, every now and then, to sit down and smoke his pipe. Hare was a great smoker. When Fox told Hare to hurry, Hare would sit right down and smoke his pipe.

Fox was much annoyed with Hare. So Fox went on alone and soon left Hare and the fire far behind. He was also swifter than the wind, but wind kept right after him. So when Fox reached his own people, he said, "I bring the warm chinook wind. You will be cold no longer."

At first his people did not believe him. But soon the chinook wind began to blow. The ice and snow melted. The people felt the cold no more. Then Fox said, "Henceforth the chinook wind shall no longer belong only to the Heat People of the south. Warm winds shall blow over the north and the rest of the world. They shall melt the snow and dry the earth. Only sometimes may they be followed by fire. Henceforth the Cold People shall not always rule the weather and plague the Indians with their icy winds."

Now the wind had left the fire far behind, and without wind the fire soon died out. A long time afterward Hare arrived home and met Fox. Fox was smoking a fine stone pipe, all carved with many strange figures. Hare's pipe was only of wood.

Fox said to Hare, "You and I are the greatest smokers of all the people. Let us run a race. The one who wins shall have both pipes, and the one who loses shall smoke no more at all."

Hare agreed to that.

Then Fox said, "We will run on flat, open ground!"

Hare said, "Oh, no! I like to run where there are fallen logs and much brush."

Well, Fox assented to that, so they began to run through a brushy piece of country, full of fallen logs. Fox had to jump over the logs, while Hare always ran underneath them and so easily kept ahead.

Then Fox got angry. He gave a great spring, and seized Hare as he came out from underneath a log, and said, "Hereafter you shall be only an ordinary hare. As you like to run in the brush, you shall always live in that kind of a country. You shall no longer be the greatest smoker of all the people."

Then Fox took Hare's pipe and went home.

(800 words)

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