Chief Squamish Jim (Sikemkin) and the Grizzly Bear

as told by Louis Maranda

What I will be relating here is something that was once told voluntarily to me by my late stepfather, whose ancestral name was Sikemkin and was known as Chief Squamish Jim by the white people. Although, he couldn't speak any English, he was very well liked by both the white and the Indian people. I had him repeat the story to me as I use to like to see and hear how he related how it happened. Although I was young when he would be telling the story of what really happened to him, I could see how he changed. He would start off by saying:

This is something that really happened to me when I was a young man. Just shortly after I got a wife, she became the mother of my children

The cold winter days had past, the snow all disappeared. The days were becoming warmer, the brush started to grow, the leaves were in full bloom. There was no doubt, spring was here.

So one evening after we finished supper, my wife said to me , "The days are very warm now and the skunk cabbages are growing, so the bear must be out of it's sleeping place. I am getting a little tired of the dried salmon and the deer meat that we are eating. I would really enjoy a change, some bear meat and some fresh bear grease to go with the dried salmon."

I said, "all right, we will go and look for some tomorrow. "So, early next morning, she was up and when we finished breakfast, we got ready. She packed what little we would need, as we knew it would be only a short stay. At that time, game was very plentiful. We got aboard our canoe and started up the river. We paddled where the water was deep and poled where the water was shallow and swift . So, we paddled and poled all day. The sun was just about setting when we were nearing yelhixw (Ash Slough).

I was looking for a good camping spot, as this was a good bear hunting place. I look across the river at a little slough, thinking that we would make camp there.

As I was looking up the slough, I seen a bear coming down the creek's bank. I told my wife. We went across the Squamish River very quietly with our paddles. I got ashore, pulled the bow of our canoe up on shore. Then, I went to meet the bear that was coming down towards the main river, walking very slowly, in search of fish bones buried in the sand from last year.

I took my rifle and sneaked up to the bear. I got up close, a good shooting range, took careful aim and fired. The bear dropped and as a rule I generally go up and touch the bear with my gun to make sure it was dead. This time, I didn't because I really thought it was dead, as it was such a close shot and I had plenty of time to take a good aim.

I hurried back to the canoe and my wife and said to her, "It would be good if you were to go and help me drag the bear to the canoe because it drags much easier while it is still warm." I got aboard our canoe and we started to go up the slough. As I looked up to see where we were going, and there, I seen the bear I shot and thought was dead.

Here it was, coming down the sloughs bank. We pulled ashore again, I pulled the bow of the canoe up on the shore. I took my gun and I approached the wounded bear. I did not sneak up to it, I went right up to it because I was facing the wind so the bear could not scent me. As it was coming down, I was going up to meet it.

When I was real near, I took care, aimed and pulled the trigger . The gun just clicked. I thought that it had misfired so I loaded again, only to see that my gun was empty. I backed up towards my canoe. Arriving there, I asked my wife, "where would my bullets be?" She said, "In the basket under all the baggage." So, I looked back and seen that the bear was quite close to us.

It was growling so I grabbed the ax, the only handy weapon. I shoved the canoe away from shore. I went up to meet the approaching, wounded grizzly bear. I knew that the grizzly bear would not tackle with all it's feet on the ground, so I kept approaching, and the grizzly kept coming also.

As it came closer, it stopped and stood up on his hind legs and kept walking towards me and kept on growling as it were approaching. When I got Nearer, I figured that if it were close enough to tackle me, then I feinted at it, as if to hit on the head. I seen that it put it's arms as to protect itself and then it would put down it's arms to approach me.

I didn't wait any longer, so I feinted and it put up it's forepaws. And as soon as it dropped it's guard to take another step towards me, I struck it on the head and killed by crushing it's skull with the only weapon I had, a single blade ax.

Ten, the grizzly bear really died. My wife's wishes were fulfilled. She got the bear meat that she was craving for. I would further like to say, that Sikemkin was one of the greatest goat and bear hunters. He was the last of the great hunters and he was also a great canoe maker.

If you have any legends you would like the entire planet to read please e-mail them to me, or fax it to me at (604 983 2296) and I'll post it! Thanks.

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