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

p. 59 p. 60


Tum-Tum had been digging for clams in the sand and catching baby crabs in the pools of water left by the outgoing tide. He was tired and was making his way to one of the whale canoes along the beach to lie down and rest. A long shadow from a high mountain in the west which would cool the afternoon air. Lying down on a bear-skin blanket he soon was on his way to slumber land where his ancestors dwelt.

Tum-Tum then heard someone approaching singing a song to the rhythm of their paddle.

"Oh my paddle steer me to shore
 As the times you have done before
 I seek "Born-To-Be-In-The-Sun"
 My boy, my boy, my only one

He peeped from the bow of the canoe and spied a woman as she stepped on the beach and came toward where he was hiding. As she approached Tum-Tum asked who she was, and where she came from.

"My name is Nice-to-look-at. I am from Pleasant-places-in-the-ten-mountains. I am the mother of Born-to-be-in-the-Sun.

"I know him, he is the mink. Come, I will show you. He is now waiting for the frog-woman to come down off my grand-father's Thunder Bird Totem Pole."

The pretty lady took his hand. As they walked along she told her story.

"One morning, while I was making a sea-otter blanket, the sun came and shone on my back through a knot hole in my room. Shortly after the mink was born, he grew up to be a man very quickly.

One day he came to me and said, "Mother, I want to marry the frog-woman."

"But you won't like her croaking."

"That is just what I like."

"Go on," I said, so they were married, and then they left in a canoe for the distant mountains far across the waters and did not come back."

Tum-Turn lead pretty lady to where the Totem Pole stood and there was the mink talking to the frog-woman. His mother spoke gently to him. "My boy Born-to-be-in-the-Sun". He smiled and rolled his eyes.

"Mother, my wife and I have been resting under the protection of the Thunder Bird's spirit of goodwill. He will be glad to meet you."

At those words, Thunder Bird flew off from the top of the Totem Pole. Flashing his eyes like lightning and flapping his wings, making thunder. He circled the village and came back where the visitors were standing. He took off his feather clothing and mask and became a man.

Thunder Bird then commanded all those on the Totem to arouse themselves, come down to the ground, take off their masks and

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meet Mink's mother. Some of the myth people took off their masks and became human. Those who did not were Ho-hook. Zoon-a-qua and Raven. Nice-to-look-at related her story again of the sun, and she had come to seek him. But how to get to his house in the sky no one knew . Thunder Bird said he could fly up there. Raven thought it best to wait for sundown then the house would not be so high in the Heavens. Finally Tum-Tum said, "Let us make bird arrows and shoot them at his house. If it can be hit, we can shoot another and another into their hocks, then we will have an arrow chain that will reach from earth to Skyland."

So they all got busy making arrows. Mink made a strong yew wood bow. When all was ready, Tum-Tum took the bow and began shooting upward making the chain like he said. Only a blunt one was left over. Zoon-a-qua, the Sleepy one woke up and said, "I will shoot this one to wake the sun," for a cloud had blotted out the house. Up and up it went and was soon lost to sight. They all stood around in wonder, waiting to see what would happen. The sun has many tricks. The arrow returned with such swiftness that Zoon-a-qua could not dodge and it hit him on the head leaving a big bump which amazed everyone and made them laugh.

Tum-Tum shook the arrow chain and it became a cedar rope, up which he and Pretty Lady started to climb followed by the mink with the Frog-Woman on his back. After climbing for a long time they finally came to a big house. From its front a great stream of light poured forth over all creation. Standing near the doorway was a tall strong man with a broom in his hand bidding them welcome. This was all so strange the Frog-Woman began croaking. The Sun invited them to come inside. He inquired of Nice-to-look-at, "I've seen you before." The Mink spoke up and said, "This is your wife and I am your child." To which he replied, "I remember now. Could you loan me your feet? I have to walk all the time, my feet get tired and if you don't keep sweeping your aunts and grandmothers (the clouds) will come and then it will get dark inside. And all Skyland as well, if Thunder Bird knows that he will flash his lightning and roll his thunder to scare the people of the village to spill their buckets of raindrops. You had better come in the house, the rascal may be up to some mischief right now." The sun began sweeping again.

When the Mink and his friends went inside they saw many wondrous things. Everything was bright and spotlessly clean. In the four corners stood strong men holding up the beams that supported the roof. Large cedar crests carved with the Sun's crest were piled on top of each other all around the sides of the house. These excited the Mink's instinctive curiosity, so that he snooped around, opening and closing the boxes. One was filled with sunrises, one had sun-beams in it, another was full of rainbows, and one had sunsets. To open the four boxes at one time would be disastrous but the Mink did not know. Others held the Sun's masks, rattles, dishes carved of wood and costumes for his dances. Boxes of food were stored everywhere. In the center of the house there was a hole from which one could see the earth. Below this was the well of life and death through which the souls from the dead departed from the earth. Unborn souls went from here on the journey

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of life.

The Sun addressed the Mink again, "When are you going to lend me your feet? My, it's getting foggy in here."

The Mink had no more than started to take them off when there was a screeching noise like a thousand owls. The four strong men holding up the roof became frightened as the whole house trembled with a skyquake. There was a great confusion, the Thunder Bird was outside, lightning flashed, thunder rolled—he was having fun.

The Sun's visitors slid from one end of the house to the other until they all disappeared through the Well of Life and Death. They came floating down, down and down to the earth, landing noiselessly as a snowflake on a sandy beach, then started to make up their Totem-Pole again with the Thunder Bird on top.

Tum-Tum woke at the call of his mother. "You naughty boy, here is where you have been hiding. Get your blanket and come in the house out of the rain."

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