Story of So-Obdi

So-Obdi (The Great Hunter) and Tu-Shwi-Whi, The Lesser

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.


Bruseth, Nels. Indian Stories and Legends of the Stillaguamish and Allied Tribes. 1926.

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