February 12, 2015

Legend of Wountie


A long time ago, even before the time of the flood, the Cheakamus River provided food for the Squamish people. Each year, at the end of summer, when the salmon came home to spawn, the people would cast their cedar root nets into the water and get enough fish for the winter to come.


One day, a man came to fish for food for his family for the winter. He looked into the river and found that many fish were coming home this year. He said thanks to the spirit of the fish, for giving themselves as food for his family, and cast his net into the river and waited. In time, he drew his nets in, and they were full of fish, enough for his family for the whole year. He packed these away into cedar bark baskets, and prepared to go home.

But he looked into the river, and saw all those fish, and decided to cast his net again. And he did so, and it again filled with fish, which he threw onto the shore. A third time, he cast his net into the water and waited.

This time, when he pulled his net in, it was torn beyond repair by sticks, stumps and branches which filled the net. To his dismay, the fish on the shore and the fish in the cedar bark baskets were also sticks and branches. He had no fish, his nets were ruined.

It was then he looked up at the mountain, and saw Wountie, the spirit protecting the Cheakamus, who told him that he had broken the faith with the river and with nature, by taking more than he needed for himself and his family. And this was the consequence.

And to this day, high on the mountain overlooking the Cheakamus and Paradise Valley, is the image of Wountie, protecting the Cheakamus.

The fisherman? Well, his family went hungry and starved, a lesson for all the people in his family.

Squamish Legends
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