Why the Salmon Came to Squamish Waters

The Chief of the Squamish band was sad because no Salmon lived in the Squamish waters and sometimes his people went hungry. He decided to get some help from four visiting brothers who possessed supernatural powers. They convinced Snookum the Sun to help them find the Salmon people. Snookum told the brothers that the Salmon people lived a long way to the west. If they wanted to visit with them they must prepare much medicine to take to them.

The four brothers led the Squamish people in their canoes until they reached the home of the Salmon people. The Squamish people gave their medicine to Spring Salmon, the chief of the Salmon people, and as a result, he was very friendly to the whole group. Spring Salmon directed four young Salmon People to enter the water and swim into a salmon trap that he kept upstream. The youths walked into the water, became salmon, and swam into the fish trap.

The four salmon were then brought from the trap, cleaned, and roasted for a feast. The Chief insisted that the guests must be very careful to save all the bones from the salmon they ate. After the meal, all the bones were gathered up and returned to the water. A few minutes later, the four young people who had earlier entered the river reappeared in their original form and joined the others.

The eldest of the four brothers then requested that the Salmon People be allowed to visit the Squamish waters because the Squamish People were often hungry. Spring Salmon agreed, on the condition that the Squamish were very careful with the bones and always threw them back in the water. The four brothers and the Squamish people promised to always be careful with the bones of the salmon, thanked their host, and returned home to the Squamish waters.

Before the coming of the white people, the Indians always obeyed the words of Chief Spring Salmon, and were very careful to continue the ritual of throwing the salmon bones back into the water.

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