The Legend of the Thunder Birds

Names Occurring in "The Legend of the Thunder Birds"

Kulakula is the Chinook word for Bird.

Tee-tse-kin or Tootooch is the name given by the Barkley Sound Indians to the Thunder Bird, a mighty supernatural bird in Indian mythology.

Howchulis, the land of the Howchucklesahts, is better known by the name Uchucklesit, a safe harbour on the west side of the Alberni Canal at its junction with Barkley Sound. Uchucklesit is now the centre of an important fishing industry.

Quawteaht, is a great personage in Indian mythology, a beneficent being, and considered by many to be the progenitor of their race.

Chinook, is a jargon or trade language still used on the coast of British Columbia both by the white men in conversing with the Indians, also by the latter when talking to members of a tribe speaking a different dialect. Chinook is a combination of English, French and Indian words.

The Legend of the Thunder Birds

The figure at the base of the pictographic painting represents the mammoth whale upon whose back the whole creation rests. Above the whale are seen the head and wings of the giant Kulakula the Tee-tse-kin the Thunder Bird which dwells aloft. When he flaps his wings or even moves a quill the thunder peals. When he blinks his eyes the lightning strikes. Upon his back a lake of large dimensions lies, from which the water pours in thunder storms. He is the lone survivor of four great Thunder Birds which dwelt upon the mountains of Uchucklesit. These mighty birds sustained themselves on whales, which they would carry to the mountain peaks, where Indians say, the bones of many whales have been found.

Wooden scoop for baling the water out of a canoe.
One time the "Great One," Quawteaht desiring to destroy the mighty Thunder Birds, entered the body of a whale, and swimming slowly approached Howchulis shore. The Thunder Birds espied it from their high retreat, and sweeping down made ready for the fray. First one attacked and drove his talons deep into the whale's back, then spreading his broad wings he tried to rise. Then Quawteaht gave strength to the great whale, which sounded, dragging the Tee-tse-kin beneath the waves. Up came the whale; a second Thunder Bird with all his force drove his strong claws deep into the quivering flesh. Then Quawteaht a second time gave strength and down the mammal plunged dragging with him the second Thunder Bird. A third was drowned in manner similar. Thereat the fourth and last Tootooch took wing and fled to distant heights, where he has ever since remained.

This is the story of the Thunder Birds.

Next: How Shewish Became a Great Whale Hunter

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