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The Voyager Of Whulge


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Like the ancient Greeks, the Siwash of the Northwest invest the unseen
world with spiritual intelligence. Every tree has a soul; the forests
were peopled with good and evil genii, the latter receiving oblation at
the devil-dances, for it was not worth while to appease those already
good; and the mountains are the home of tamanouses, or guardian spirits,
that sometimes fight together--as, when the spirits of Mount Tacoma
engaged with those of Mount Hood, fire and melted stone burst from their
peaks, their bellowing was heard afar, and some of the rocks flung by
Tacoma fell short, blocking the Columbia about the Dalles.

Across these fantastic reports of older time there come echoes of a later
instruction, adapted and blended into native legend so that the point of
division cannot be indicated. Such is that of the mysterious voyager of
the Whulge--the Siwash name for the sound that takes the name of Puget
from one of Vancouver's officers. Across this body of water the stranger
came in a copper canoe that borrowed the glories of the morning. When he
had landed and sent for all the red men, far and near, he addressed to
them a doctrine that provoked expressions of contempt--a doctrine of

To fight and steal no more, to give of their goods to men in need, to
forgive their enemies,--they could not understand such things. He
promised--this radiant stranger--to those who lived right, eternal life
on seas and hills more fair than these of earth, but they did not heed
him. At last, wearying of his talk, they dragged him to a tree and nailed
him fast to it, with pegs through his hands and feet, and jeered and
danced about him, as they did about their victims in the devil-dance,
until his head fell on his breast and his life went out.

A great storm, with thunderings and earthquakes! They took the body down
and would have buried it, but, to! it arose to its feet, as the sun burst
forth, and resumed its preaching. Then they took the voyager's word for
truth and never harmed him more, while they grew less warlike as each
year went by until, of all Indians, they were most peaceable.

Next: Tamanous Of Tacoma

Previous: A Battle In The Air

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