Shla-Ahk, the Story Teller

Perhaps you would like to hear who first told the story about the fire war. It was Shla-ahk (the Otter). For a long time the people did not know just how they had gotten the first fire. Many stories were told mostly by S’beau, how he had gotten it for them. But they had a suspicion that Otter, the quiet and mysterious, knew. They asked him to tell. He put them off with excuses, but at last said. “If some one will cut my mouth open wider, I will tell.” So they took a sharp stone knife and cut Otter’s mouth open on both sides. That is why his mouth now looks like a straight line across his face. First Shla-ahk. told them that Chub, the little fish with the round mouth, was a signal man during the war. He with his puckered mouth could whistle the best. Then he gave the story. When through with that he gave the- names of just a few of those who had taken part in the councils and the war. Here they are: Shwutsu (Squirrel), Squay-akud (Whistling Warmot), another signalman; Snakubsh (Mountain Beaver), Buts-ats (Snake), Putschub (Wildcat) Buschub (Mink), Skadish (Muskrat), Klah-kah (Crow), Chee-eth (Kingfisher), Klah-Okhs (Raven), Suk-whay (Sparrow) and Skai-ki (Blue Jay), All of these people played some special part in the war and if each one’s story were told you would all be tired out with listening.

This is one thing that should be told about Kleatlad, the Snail. You have seen the two little holes in the side of her head. Before the fire war she had ears, but when her grandson, Stilkapad, the Wren, hit the mark, she was so glad and became so excited that she pulled her ears off; now you see only ‘two little holes. Yes, and she still is wearing the shawl she put on when she went to the big shoot.


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

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