Northwest Indians


There are many stories regarding the discovery of fire. One theme that is repeated from nation to nation and story to story is that it was stolen from the spirit world by an animal. How it was stolen varies from story to story.

One version states that in days long ago the only fire in the world was on a mountain top, guarded by three Skookums. They guarded it carefully so that man could not steal it. Coyote was a friend of man and wanted man to be warm and happy. He devised a plan to steal the fire. At dawn when the time was right the Coyote seized the fire and ran down the mountain. The Skookum followed him but before she could catch him he gave the fire to Wolf. Wolf ran on ahead and just before Skookum caught Wolf he handed the fire to Squirrel. Squirrel reached Frog who hopped away with the coals in his mouth. Before Skookum could get the fire from Frog he spit it out on Wood and Wood swallowed it. Skookum did not know how to get the fire out of Wood. But Coyote did. Coyote showed the Indians how to get the fire out of Wood by rubbing two dry sticks together.

The Nez Perce told of how, in the early days, Pine Tree held the secret of fire. No one was allowed to have fire, no matter how cold it was unless he were a Pine. One winter it was so cold the animals almost froze to death. They called a council and determined they would steal fire from Pine Tree. Pine Trees were holding a council at Grande Ronde and had built a large fire. Beaver hid next to a river bank where he would not be seen. After a while a large coal rolled down the bank near Beaver. He hid it in his breast and ran away. Pine Trees chased him all the way to where the Grande Ronde joins the Big Snake River. Beaver swam across the river and gave some fire to Willows on the opposite bank. Farther on he gave fire to Birches and to other trees. Ever since then animals and Indians can get fire from these woods by rubbing two pieces together.

My name is Stephenie Flora. Thanks for stopping by.
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