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Indian Legend of Kettle Falls
This story was related many years ago by a sinixt relative by the name of Aeneas Seymour, to a Mrs. Goldie Putnam. It's appears here as it was written down in "Kettle River Country: Early days alongs the Kettle River" by Ruth Lakin (1976).
Indian Legend of Kettle Falls
This is my land. A land of peace and beauty... of vanishing historical landmark ... of ancient customs and legends nearly forgotten. This is a land where men have shared with their brothers from generations past ... a gathering spot from hundreds of miles around. This is a land barely showing the ghost-like traces of a glorious past.
The old land is gone now. A new land is here.
But it still is a land of peace and beauty. I know this is true for I am always watching.
I am Coyote, the Transformer, and have been sent by Great Mystery, the creator and arranger of the world. Great Mystery has said that all people should have an equal right in everything and that all souls share alike.
As long as the sun sets in the west this will be a land of peace. This is the commandment i gave to my people, and they have obey me.
My people are the Skoyelpi and Snaitcekst Indians, who lived near the Kettle Falls on the Columbia River. I gave them that Falls to provide them with fish all their days. It was called Ilthkoyape, which means "falls of boiling baskets," but the name was shortened to Skoyelpi. The falls was surrounded by potholes which resembled the boiling baskets inwhich my people cooked their food. When the Hudson's Bay people came they called it the "falls of the Kettle," The men of the Northwest Fur Trading Company called it "La Chaudiere, a french name for Kettle Falls.
Many generations ago my people were hungry and starving. They did not have a good place to catch there fish. One day while I was out walking I came upon a poor man and his three daughters. They were thin from hunger because they could not get salmon. I promised the old man I would make him a dam across the river to enable him to catch fish, if he would give me his youngest daughter as my wife. The old man agreed to this and I built him a fine falls where he could fish at low water. But when I went to claim the daughter the old man explained that it was customary to give away the eldest daughter first. So i took the eldest daughter and once again promised the man i would build him a medium dam so he could fish at medium water if i could have the youngest daughter. The old man explained again that the middle daughter must be married before the youngest, so i claimed is middle daughter and built him a fine falls where he could fish at medium water.
Shortly after the father came to me and said he was in need of a high dam where he could fish at high water. He promised me his youngest daughter if i would I would build this. So i built him a third and highest dam where he could fish at high water. And then I claimed the long awaited youngest daughter as my wife.
And now, because I had built the Falls in three levels, my people could fish at low, medium and high water. I had become responsible for my people, and i saw that the fish must jump up the falls in one certain area where the water flowed over a deep depression. I appointed the old man as Salmon Chief, and he and his descendants were to rule over the Falls and see that all people shared in the fish caught there. All people must live there in peace, and no one should leave there unprovided.
Indians and white men from hundreds of of miles away have gathered during the the salmon runs at my falls, and they have all lived in peace sharing together.
*Note: On 1941 July 5 our beautiful gift from sin-ka-lip (coyote) was flooded under water by the rising waters of what is now known as Lake Roosevelt. Up until 1946, salmon and steelhead continued to appear at the base of the newly erected Grand Coulee Dam, trying to get upriver to spawn. After 1946, none was seen at the dam again. Our people have never been compensated for this tragic loss of our rich cultural heritage.
© This legend is protected under indigenous copyright protection.