The Voyager Of Whulge

: 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.