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The Thunder Bird Tootooch Legends, by W.L. Webber, [1936], at

p. 23

Ol-Hiyo, The Seal


The Seal Society among the Kwakiutls was one of the most important of their dancing and drama-acting bodies at their Winter feasts. Among the younger members of the tribe it was their first step to initiation into the higher orders.

There is no other animal that lives in the sea that is more useful to the Indian than the Seal. It furnishes a large amount of meat and fat and could be used for making clothing and blankets. Its intestines could be used for making floats, for nets and for many other purposes. Being t mid, it could be approached easily on the rocky islands or on sand bars close to where rivers emptied into the Salt Chuck (Sea).

The seals flesh was used at important feasts, the most tender and desirable parts being reserved for the highest guest. Therefore the seal symbol was used mostly for the decoration of the Indian's dishes and cooking vessels. These were sometimes ornamented, in many cases with coast abalone shells.

The Kwakiutl have a legend that at one time the Thunder Bird came to a man's house close to a river's mouth. Near by, on the rocks, was a herd of seal sleeping. Tootooch (Thunder Bird), with a rough club, killed them all. Building himself a fire he heated stones and upon these placed the seals to roast. After they had all been consumed he was still hungry. He borrowed the man's boat and seal spear and returned with four more seals. Rebuilding the fire he placed them on the rocks to cook so that he could carry them away with him. Close by was a big cedar stump. Thunder Bird said to the Stump, "Don't you wish you had some?" And then, he went into the woods for some skunk-cabbage leaves in which to wrap the seal meat. While he was gone, the Stump moved over and sat upon the seals which Thunder Bird had been cooking. When Thunder Bird came back and saw what the Stump had done he was so angry that he cried and cursed, as he was afraid he would get very hungry before he found any more seals.

Next: Kutze-ce-te-ut, The Wood Worm