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The Origin of the Tribes
This version of the legend comes from Manuel Andrade's 1930 collection Quileute Texts, which is out of
print. The storyteller was a bilingual Quileute man named Hallie George.
It happened long ago that Q'waeti' journeyed all over the land setting the people aright and instructing the people that would come in the future how they
should act. Q'waeti' instructed the people how to build houses.
One day Q'waeti' came upon Beaver. Beaver was sharpening his stone knife, and Beaver was very stingy. Q'waeti' asked what was Beaver doing.
Whereupon Beaver said: "I am sharpening my knife in order to kill Q'waeti'," said Beaver. Then Q'waeti' took what Beaver was sharpening and stuck
it on Beaver's tail. Then he said: "You shall always have this stuck to your tail, and live in the water. You will just slap the water with your tail and dive
when the people come."
Then one day he came upon Deer. Deer was sharpening his shell knife. Thereupon Q'waeti' asked Deer what was he sharpening it for. Whereupon Deer
said: "I am going to kill Q'waeti'," said Deer. Then Q'waeti' seized the shell that Deer was sharpening. Then he stuck it on Deer's ears. He said "When
you see people you shall run frightened and stop, and look back." Then Q'waeti' went on his way.
Not long afterward he reached Q'wayi't'soxk'a River. But he did not find any people. Then Q'waeti' spit on his hands and rubbed them. Doing this he
rubbed off the human dead skin into the water. Thereupon many people appeared. Then Q'waeti' said to the people whom he had made: "You shall
dwell here," said Q'waeti'. "Your name shall be Q'wayi't'sox (Queets.)"
Then Q'waeti' reached the Hoh people. He saw that these people walked on their hands carrying their smelt nets between their legs. At that time all the
Hoh people walked on their hands. They were called the Up-side-down people. Since that time the Up-side-down people were known as the first
people who had existed. Then Q'waeti' turned right side up the ones who walked on their hands. "You shall use your feet to walk," said Q'waeti'
to the former Up-side-down people. "Go and fish smelt. You shall catch much fish when you fish smelt." Ever since then there is much smelt at Hoh.
Then Q'waeti' went on and reached the Quileute land. He saw two wolves. There were no people here. Then Q'waeti' transformed the wolved into
people. Then he instructed the people saying: "The common man will have only one wife. Only a chief may have four or eight wives. For this reason
you Quileute shall be brave, because you come from wolves," said Q'waeti'. "In every manner you shall be strong."
Then Q'waeti' reached the Ozette people (Makah.) There he saw two dogs. Then he transformed the dogs into people. Then Q'waeti' gave instructions to
the people how to search around the rocks for devil-fish, and to get all kinds of sea food. Then Q'waeti' went on.
Then he came to the Neah people. He saw many people. The people did not know how to fish. So, the Neah people were hungry, about to perish.
Then Q'waeti' instructed one person how they should fish. Q'waeti' instructed them how to troll when trying to fish. Ever since then there is much fish
in Neah Bay. When Q'waeti' finished he said that there would be much fish at Neah Bay.
Then Q'waeti' went on setting aright and creating people, going around the land, and instructing them in what they should do in order to subsist.
More stories to read:
Native American transformer stories
Legends about the first people
Legends about wolves
Learn more about:
Real Quileute legends
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