Welcoming Salmon Nations Home

Slivers of Light


The 7th Annual Northwest Indian Storytelling Festival

Octopus lady had a plan for dinner.  But all crow could say was, “I know”.

Dog fish was determined to help his love make it up the river without slipping back to the mouth while resting.  His mouth has never been the same.

The Peacemaker came across the water in a stone canoe. Hiawatha was unable to translate for the Peacemaker in the grief which misused spiritual powers of resistance to peace brought his family.  And the people came to the way to comb snakes from the hair of the leader. The women hold the power of veto to check man’s use of power.

Mazama warned the people of its changes that those with respect for their elders might survive– and so the people were able to migrate before the changes – and keep their ways and foods. The dreams of those with such fidelities were rewarded with the blue of the water’s of Crater Lake.

The 3 greedy sisters who built a dam at Celilo for themselves – had a visitor – a strange floating baby – who became coyote whenever they left – and broke the dam on behalf of all the people.

Raven saw the peoples suffering when a chief horded the waters – and used waste – shit – to trick the chief into revealing his stores – and laid out the rivers and lakes as we know them for all the people to share.

During the times of famine the ones who took the last bite of food, prayed the hardest, and led the people to the offerings which kept them going.

A canoe leader in the modern time – gave up his life when capsized – knowing it was his time – so the youngest would be saved. He died with joy knowing a full and righteous heart. The young live forward.

In the first world when people were animals and animals could speak.  They worked to protect each other.  Salmon was given the greatest honor.  Salmon was given the honor to feed all the people.

Cedar tree sheltered her young seedlings from storm and sun.  When she could no longer stand of her own strength – her young knew theirs.  They remembered her love and used their strength of mind and heart and body to hold her with the people.

The heart of the monster that would kill all who traveled through this land was pierced by coyote – that all our people could be made and live together in a good way.

Wisdom lives in place.  Wisdom occupies words in the ancient languages. Wisdom occupies the stories polished with the love of one generation for the next. Wisdom occupies the rhythms and traditions of place as revealed in the way mountain blueberries are harvested, who is fed the first catch, second catch, third catch and fourth catch of salmon.

For the 7th time our Northwest Indian Storytellers Association Annual Festival gathered to share and encourage storytelling from the perspective of our First Nations. This is always a humbling and beautiful experience – to bear witness to ambassadors from more First Nations than could be counted on hands, to hear the many legends of creation and emergence. To have children sing songs for the elders freshly received from the spirit. To hear stories of agreements that have been made between the animal nations and the human beings. Agreements the newcomers in the landscape need to know. To hear why it is the people who have cared for the earth are those who have survived to tell us our stories. To laugh at ourselves and the way that tricksters coyote, blue jay, and raven have made the world we know ourselves to be a part of. And how they inform creative methods for overcoming the great obstacles our earth and our peoples have and are facing.

There is a great wealth, generosity and strength among the elder nations of this landscape. May we all learn to listen to each other – to share in the giveaways of priceless treasure offered through these wealth’s of experience.

Eeeee Hychka Siam!

October 28, 2012

Willamette Valley

The Festival is sponsored in part by Wisdom of the Elders – they are making these stories available through radio, television and school curriculum available here.




Add yours →

  1. It makes me happy to hear about Octopus lady!

    • Yeah, Johnny was amazing and strong with her voice and all the voices encountered by crow on his journey (remember slug?!) – the voice of crow is still haunting me… Much thanks for all of his ongoing work – He was just recognized with the Washington State Governor’s Heritage Award.

      I always remember when you were 4 or so and the dancing free spirited shaman from Tofino at LaPush gave you an Octopus song…

      Glad it makes you happy! :)

  2. Your comment at Laura Grace Weldon’s blog brought me here. I love this line above: “Wisdom occupies the stories polished with the love of one generation for the next.”

    I wrote a poem I’d like to share with you. The first photo I saw coming here made me think of it. If you’re interested, you can email me at suevanhattum on hotmail.

    • Yes that love coming down through stories, songs, poems, art and the very words we use to speak, is a great gift from the many who have come before, Great gratitudes for those who polish and pass forward the ancestral gems…

Leave a Reply to treothe Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: