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

p. 42

Welala, The Mountain Spirit


Welala is the mountain spirit of the Tsimshian tribes of the Nass and Skeena Rivers of British Columbia. It is also used by the Tlingets of Alaska and is found on the well known Kicksetti Totem Pole at Wrangell. The Indians believe that everything has a spirit. The soul came from the body and the body changed to stone, hence the Mountain Spirit.

The legend of Welala tells of a great hunter who was pursuing a bear he had wounded. The bear reached a steep cliff on a mountain where a door opened through which he entered. As the hunter came to the doorway he heard the voice of Welala singing: "Hap, hap." Then he fainted. The soul from his body was then levitated and transported into a secret council chamber in the mountain's hollow interior and into the presence of the great Chief Welala, who was wearing a bear skin.

The great Welala gave the hunter the right to use the ornaments that he himself was wearing and, from a carved box he took a dance mask, a small bearskin, a cedar-bark neck ring and other articles like those used at Winter dances. Welala also gave the hunter power to fly all over the world to seek and devour his enemies.

With the ornaments the hunter adorned himself and flew over Illahie (The Earth) for the space of four years, killing and devouring all whom he found in the woods.

Finally he came to his own village where the Medicine Men of his tribe succeeded in capturing him. He was then taken to his family where he was cured of his wandering and evil ways with the aid of magic herbs and was allowed to dance Welala dances until he was exhausted. The Village Chief then gave him back his slaves, coppers and canoes.

The Mountain Spirit of Welala is very secretive. It is looked upon by the Indian as giving special Tamahnous Skookum (Magical Power) of greatness and benevolence.

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