Why the Salmon
Came to Squamish Waters
The Chief of the Squamish band was sad because no Salmon lived
in the Squamish waters and sometimes his people went hungry. He
decided to get some help from four visiting brothers who possessed
supernatural powers. They convinced
Snookum the Sun to help them find the Salmon people. Snookum told
the brothers that the Salmon people lived a long way to the west.
If they wanted to visit with them they must prepare much medicine
to take to them.
The four brothers led the Squamish people in their canoes until
they reached the home of the Salmon people. The Squamish people
gave their medicine to Spring Salmon, the chief of the Salmon
people, and as a result, he was very friendly to the whole group.
Spring Salmon directed four young Salmon People to enter the water
and swim into a salmon trap that he kept upstream. The youths
walked into the water, became salmon, and swam into the fish trap.
The four salmon were then brought from the trap, cleaned, and
roasted for a feast. The Chief insisted that the guests must be
very careful to save all the bones from the salmon they ate. After
the meal, all the bones were gathered up and returned to the
water. A few minutes later, the four young people who had earlier
entered the river reappeared in their original form and joined the
The eldest of the four brothers then requested that the Salmon
People be allowed to visit the Squamish waters because the
Squamish People were often hungry. Spring Salmon agreed, on the
condition that the Squamish were very careful with the bones and
always threw them back in the water. The four brothers and the
Squamish people promised to always be careful with the bones of
the salmon, thanked their host, and returned home to the Squamish
Before the coming of the white people, the Indians always
obeyed the words of Chief Spring Salmon, and were very careful to
continue the ritual of throwing the
salmon bones back into the water.
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