Marriage: The Woman Stolen by Killer Whales

The Tahltan people live in British Columbia around Telegraph Creek in Tahltan, British Columbia. You can find out more at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Native American Marriage Tales unit. Story source: Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1929).

The Woman Stolen by Killer Whales

A man was out fishing and drying halibut, and his wife helped him.

One day he felt something very heavy on his hook and could not pull it up. He tied the line to the thwart of the canoe and paddled ashore. With much trouble he managed to land the fish on the beach.

He called on his wife to kill it quickly, and she despatched it with her knife. She cut it up and hung it up to dry, as is done with halibut. They did not know what kind of a fish it was. It was quite strange to them, but they thought it might be good food. When the woman had finished her work, she went to the edge of the water to wash her hands.

As soon as she put her hands into the water, something seized them and pulled her underneath the sea. She had been taken by the Killer-Whales who had come to have revenge on the man for killing their friend.

The man followed the trail of his wife and her captors under the sea. He came to the house of the Fish chief and asked him if he knew where his wife was. The chief said, "Yes, the Killer-Whales have taken her to be their slave."

The man asked the chief if any fish of his company would care to help him get back his wife. The chief asked the fishes if any of them would volunteer, and Shark said he would go.

Shark went ahead to Killer-Whale's house and hid the man outside the door. He went in and saw that the Killer-Whales were about to eat their evening meal.

Their chief said, "Make the fire blaze, that we may see well!" Shark was standing next to the fire. He jumped up quickly and put much wood on the fire so that it blazed up.

The chief then said, "Some one fetch water!" Shark seized the buckets and ran out to draw water. As he came in and was passing the fire, he stumbled purposely and upset the buckets in the fire, thus causing a dense cloud of ashes and steam to arise.

Quickly he caught up the woman, pushed her out into the arms of her husband who was waiting and followed them. Shark kept in the rear and said to the man, "Keep a-going! if they overtake us, I shall fight them."

When the man and woman were nearly home, they looked back and saw a severe fight in progress. Shark was fighting all the Killer-Whales, biting them with his sharp teeth, and tearing them with his rough skin.

(killer whale sculpture by
Haida artist Bill Reid)

(400 words)