Our Stories

Beaver and Eagle Get Fire

Mary Anderson

 Beaver was talking with Eagle, and Beaver said, “We are going to get some fire at Lytton. They have fire.” Eagle said, “All right.” Beaver then said “I’m going to go to that spring (near Lytton), the People will find me at the spring. The people will kill me, and bring me to their winter house. Right when they’re going to take my clothes off (skin him), you’ll get there. You’ll sit on top off the house. The People will rush over there (to see Eagle). I’ll stick the fire under my arm.” Eagle said, “All right.” They killed Beaver. They brought him in the cellar house. Just when they were going to take his clothes off (skin him). Eagle perched. “Oh, look at the bird.” The people ran over there (to see the bird, in excitement). f Meanwhile, (Beaver) he rolled himself over, and he stuck the fire under his arm. Then he hit it with his tail. The water came up. The water really rose, and the winter house was filled.  The People drowned. Beaver was on his way from there. He held on to his fire, and he kept going. When he got to some bushes, he put/placed the fire there. He kept doing that until he passed (died). Then (thereafter) when the People make a fire, they would call them “matches.” And that’s what they did Beaver and Eagle.

That’s the end of the legend.

This story is contained in the book Thompson River Salish Speech.  Thank you Joe Shuter for the loan and Barb Huston for transcribing.


Excerpt from “Our Tellings” by Darwin Hanna and Mamie Henry:

Told by Many Brown

Screech Owl

Long ago, people would play lhkẁúsax̣7ma (a game involving throwing an object into the air and piercing it with a dart) and bake in their pithouses.

One day, children were playing inside a pithouse and accidentally started a fire.  The people had to get out by climbing up a ladder, because there are no doors in pithouses.  They all climbed up the ladder but Screech Owl missed a step and fell to the bottom of the ladder.  The others trampled on him.  When they finally got off him, one of his friends got him up and out of the pithouse.

That is why Screech Owl has a flattened face.


Many years ago, Raven stole some sts’uẃen (dried salmon).  While eating it, he got a fish bone stuck in his throat.  One of his friends jumped on his throat to get rid of the fish bone, and that is why the Raven caws the way he does.

How Chipmunk got his Stripes

This is how Chipmunk got the stripes on his back.

They say long ago there was a chipmunk living under a big rock.  One time he was sitting outside and Bear was going by.  He starting teasing Bear, ‘Oh, you big clumsy old thing!’ and ‘You can’t even get around as good as I can!’  Bear got mad and went after Chipmunk.  Chipmunk went back in his hold and Bear couldn’t catch him.  Chipmunk came out again and started teasing Bear again.  Bear went after him but couldn’t catch him and missed Chipmunk again.  But the third time Bear got Chipmunk on his back and kind of scratched him.  They say that’s how Chipmunk go the little stripes on his back.