Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest  Index  Previous  Next 

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

p. 41

Skam-m, The Halibut


Long ago, when the Raven was performing the miracle of making the creatures of the universe, his work always made him tired and hungry. He stopped to do a little fishing, catching a peculiar fish which he wished to keep fresh so he did not kill it. How to keep the fish from flapping around and probably leaping out of the canoe puzzled him so going to the shore he went to the spruce trees and took some of the gum from their bark. This he fashioned into a woman whom he called Skam-m. He then commanded her to grow quickly and be beautiful. Then he told her to sit on the fish he had caught, promising her a part of it when he was through fishing. As the day was hot, for the sun was high, he wanted to get a good mess of fish as soon as possible, so without looking behind him he called: "Skam-m, are you there?" Skam-m answered "Oh." Shortly after he called again: "Skam-m, kla howya (How are you)?" To which she replied again: "Oh." As the sun was getting warmer, Raven called again: "Skam-m, are you still there?" To which she replied, in a weak voice, "Oh."

Raven looked around, trying to locate the small, feeble voice, only to find that a sticky pitch had taken her place. He was so surprised and angry that he cursed, for he could not eat a fish that was covered with pitch and had to throw it overboard. That is why the Halibut skin is dark on the top side and white beneath, burnt by hot pitch, has misplaced, pop-eyes and is flat by being sat upon by Skam-m. Halibut is flat even today. The Indians, when fishing, remembering Raven's experience always kill a halibut when caught, with a stout club.

The further experiences of Raven tell of him coming to the place where Siam Itchwood (Grizzly Bear) lived. He asked Grizzly Bear if he would like to go fishing for halibut, so they agreed to start early the next morning. Taking the canoe they went to a place where it was known to be good fishing. They fixed their fish hooks and put them in the sea. Only Raven caught halibut. When the canoe was full. Grizzly Bear asked Raven what he used for bait. Raven replied: "Gildasquyil." This Indian word has never been identified.

Next: Welala, The Mountain Spirit