The Fire-War

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 by fire people. You can see all over little fire and big fire-chosad (Stars). We got to make way to catch this fire. Maybe make war for fire with fire people. Then all best talkers he say we got to shoot arrows up there to catch fire. Then all best shooters from bear, from wolf, from goat, from beaver, from everybody come up on high place try shoot down fire. Hees try and try, but can’t make good shoot.

This time S’beau (Fox) he start to run around. (You know fox; hee’s all time run round and round all over). Well bye and bye he find little fellow, Stilpakad (Wren) come drag long bow and arrow. S’beau think this very funny. He stop and say: “Hello, you; what you little fellow drag those long bow and arrow for?” Stilpakad says, “To shoot.” S’beau say, “Oh you too small for that long bow.” Stilpakad say, “You can run far away, I can shoot you.” So S’beau he run maybe one, maybe two mile away. Bye and bye long arrow come and shoot him right through. S’beau bees surprise and run to big meeting place and say: “You hear; I find best shooter of everybody,” and he tells his story. Everybody he think S’beau hees not talk straight. But he say, you see this arrow hees shoot me through, I want help to hull out, and you send policeman with me to see and bring this fellow in. So plenty policeman go along and S’beua show the way. When they come and talk to this fellow Stilpakad and tell him to come, he say: “I can’t do this big thing.”

This time his grandmother, Kle-atlad, walked to the shooting place. When Stilpakad get up on high place he say: “You want me, little fellow, do too much big thing.” His grandmother say: “You shoot, I help you,” and she climbed up by his leg and pointed her hand to place to shoot. Stilpakad raise his bow and arrow four times and then shoot. Kle-atlad she hit her hands together this way quick, quick, quick long time, and arrow go up, up, up and Stick fast up by firepeople. He hang up there. Well now hees got some place to shoot for; then he make shoot many, many times, one arrow after the other. This reach clear to ground; then Kle-atlad climb first, and make sticky place to walk on, then Te-ke-te-katch (Woodpecker) climb up and make little rough place for other fellow to climb on, then everybody begin to climb. Sta-ku (the Beaver), he want to make good work and get fire. He climb fast; bye and bye he come to top and see fire. He jump off and make big run for fire. Fire people see him and start to make fight. Beaver, he get hit hard. Fire people think hees dead, but beaver bees not dead; bees smart fellow. Some fire people begin to skin beaver. First bees skin one side then when he roll over to skin other side, beaver make skin stick on again. When he is pretty near skinned all over, fire people see Te-ke-te-katch and other fellows come up, they run to make war and leave beaver. Then beaver he jump up quick, make all his skin stick on, and catch some fire in his hands, inside fingers, and make quick run for ladder. Now this time some fellow got plenty trouble down by middle of ladder, grizzly bear first and black bear behind. Black bear he look up and see grizzly, and he say: “Gurr urugg, you look bad, you look bad behind.” Grizzly he say: “What is the matter with you; spose you go before.” When black bear get first, grizzly look up and say: “Grou, Orrff, you look bad, you look bad behind.” Now they make bad talk and start bad trouble and fight and ladder make big brake, and everybody and everything fall down; everybody come down all over, fish in water, animals on land, bird in air. Well this fellow, Staku, hees make big jump and come down in soft place and run to cottonwood and put fire in dry root. This place Indian find fire.


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

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