Indian Mythology | Stillaguamish Mythology

More Stillaguamish Stories


Kuishan and Shuksan

Way up on the Skagit live two big mountains. Sometimes mountain Tyees get mad and makes a big fire. Once this happened with Kulshan; he got so mad over something that a big piece fell off and slid way down the mountain. This made a big fire and lots of noise. Kuishan and Shuksan became black all over. The waters in the rivers became black and warm. Fish came floating down the rivers cooked. Lots of Indians and animals fled from the upper Skagit and came to Kee-ke-alos and Stillaguamish. Next year most of them went back again. Since then Kulshan has never been mad.

Legend of Two Mountains
So-Bahli-Ahli, Ska-Duloas and Qua-Hae-Eths

Those of you who have traveled the Arlington-Darrington road, and in clear weather have looked up at the long ridge of Mt. Higgins, have surely seen the long parallel gashes running slantwise from the top of the ridge down to the rockslides. They are best seen from near Fortson. You may have wondered how it happened. Well here is how: So-bahli-ahli (White Horse Mt.) was once a women. She had come from east of the mountains. Near where she settled lived a man, Qua-hae-eths. She liked him. very much, and he became her man, and they lived happily together, but this was not to last. Up from the whulg (Sound) carne another woman, Ska-dulvas (Mt. Higgins) a young maiden of many charms.

She looked at Quay-hae-eths, envied So-bahli-ahli and decided to steal him. She dressed herself in beautiful colors, mostly red; smiled at and talked nice to the man. He made a move toward her! she suddenly grabbed him, and placed him behind her. Then a battle began. The noise was terrific; hair flew all over the sky; rocks whizzed through the air, hit their mark, rolled down and made big rock piles down below. The battle ended in victory for Ska-duloas, but she was disfigured for life by So-bahli-ahli who reached over and with her fingernails scratched those deep gashes across the face of her enemy. The man did not interfere the least in the battle. He just stood still and looked on. He stands there yet, the highest bald nob on the north east of Mt. Higgins.

Old Indian Camps

Here and there may yet be found traces of old Indian camps. On a little tour of investigation in 1910, the writer looked over three old camp sites. The most interesting and easiest to find was the one at Mrs. Leque's place a short distance east of Stanwood. This camp must have been used for a long time. There was a mound covering at least half an acre, and at some points as much as five feet higher than the level of the adjoining land. It seemed to be built up entirely of clamshells, rocks, bones and refuse. Some of the clamshells were immense, 5 and 6 inches long. The location of the camp was ideal-on the river bank with unobstructed view for a long way both up and down stream. A little slough swings in behind the camp on the southeast side, making a fine place to hide a number of canoes. No doubt this was at one time a very busy place. You may find traces of their camps from Stanwood to Hat Slough, but hardly any as conspicuous as this one.

At the Pilchuck creels crossing, on the old Bryant-Cedarhome road, some men levelling ground for a mill site found a circular pit of rocks about a foot under the surface of the soil, evidently an old fireplace. The Indians say this was a temporary camp used for generation after generation, being near a big berry burn and good hunting grounds. At the upper Pilchuck, near where the N. P. railway bridge crosses the creek, was the junction of Skagit and Stolukquamish trails. There one time very long ago occurred a battle between some hunting parties, and thereafter Stolukquamish Indians were rather careful when passing it, on account of bad tamanowis.

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.


From Toll Dachib to Skabalko, the junction of the rivers at Arlington, were several temporary camps. Skabalko was known far and wide. Sauks traveling to the Sound and back, Snohobish coming down the South fork, parties coming up river to dig for roots, spaykoolitz and leek at Ba-quab (Kent's Prairie) nearly always stopped there and camped. At Bah-quab lived an old man and woman about 50 years ago. They seldom left their home, but kept watch over the Prairie, dug roots and gave to travelers in exchange for fish and venison.

From Ba-quab there was a trail to Kellogg Marsh, to Quil Ceda and on to the Snohomish.

Sti-Kieo and Skobie
Wolf and Dog

In the time before the white settlers came, the Indians did not have the kind of dog they have now. They had Shle-kah, a gray-brown collie-like dog with long hair. No one seems to know where this dog came from. Some say he came from the far north. But a story is told by others.

Wolf and Coyote used to live together; Wolfe was head of the family. When food was scarce Coyote was sent to the Indian camps to pick up bones and scraps, and bring them home for food. This worked well for a while, but Coyote began to cheat. He would eat what he found and stay too long around camps, bringing very little home. Wolfe warned him saying: "You soon will lose your home with us if you cheat." It did not help. Wolf followed him near to a camp one day and found Coyote roaming lazily around and eating what he found. That night Wolf said to Coyote: "Now I am through with you; hereafter you can stay by the camps and be Indian's dog." This may have been the ancestor of Shle-kah, the dog of whose hair the Indians made yarn and twine. Some tribes made blankets with the yarn. It was very desirable to get these dogs mated with the wolf. The resulting squeek-mie (pups) sometimes made fine hunting dogs. Some say that Wolf once used to live on the hill between Skabalko and Bah-quab.

Stillaguamish Mythology

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