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Storytelling in the Style of Coast Salish Tales

After reading, listening, acting, singing and dancing some of the stories that have been told in the Northwest Coast region of the United States for time immemorial the North Room students at Lake and Park were inspired to write their own stories. They used what they had learned and tried to incorporate some of the style and lessons into their own stories.

We hope you enjoy the stories.

Seaera Queen of the ShapeShifters 

By India

A long time ago in the darkest of nights there was movement, a small disturbance. In this quiet place was the sound of rustling. Then, out bounded a cougar. In the dead of night, its eyes glowed red.

 The cougar stood on its hind paws and transformed into a human girl with flowing blonde hair and dark brown eyes. She stared into the darkness, but one light flickered in the distance. It was the sun but it wasn't rising. The flicker of sunlight came from a small forest. So the girl changed into an eagle and soared into the small forest. She landed high in a tree and saw the sun sitting in the middle of a clearing.

  She swooped down to grab it but then she got hit by something and she fell to the ground. When she awoke, she saw a girl sitting on the ground near her. The girl was dressed in layers of silk, holding what appeared to be a slingshot. She looked over and said, “Oh you're awake.” She went on, “I am Flora, the sea chief’s daughter.”

 Flora's brown hair was long and wavy and her blue eyes glistened like the sparkling sea. “You tried to take what is ours,” said Flora. 

“It's not yours,” replied the girl. 

“What's your name?” asked Flora. 

“Seaera,” the girl said. 

“Ah, Seaera Queen of the Shapeshifters,” said a man emerging from the shadows. 

The chief, Seaera thought. 

“What are you doing here?” asked the chief. 

Seaera said nothing. She tried to think of a plan.

 “Guards!” commanded the chief, “take her to the dungeon!” 

In the dungeon, they put magical ropes on her wrists so she couldn't shape shift with them on. But if she could get them off for a second or two then she can get away. The guards grabbed her arms and put the ropes on her wrists.

Then they took her to the dungeon and a stationed guard stood outside of her cell. Perfect, Seaera thought. “Excuse me, sir” she said in a sweet voice. The guard did not answer. 

“I am hungry, may I have some food?” she asked. The man sighed and left the room. Seaera put herself to work. She got the small knife she had been carrying on a string around her neck, put it in her mouth, and started rubbing it against the rope. Sparks flew. Suddenly she heard footsteps. She rubbed faster. The footsteps got louder and louder and then thwap, the rope was undone. 

She quickly changed herself into a mouse and scurried off, out of the dungeon, barely avoiding the guards. She heard someone behind her say, “There she is!” Seaera had no time to think of anything to change into. So she ran up the stairs and down the hall. Then she saw a door that said EXIT. She ran to that door and jumped through.

  She found herself back in the clearing. That's odd, I was running the opposite way, and the guards are gone, she thought. There, once again, she saw the ball of light in the middle of the clearing. She picked it up and it glowed in her hand. She through it  into the sky. Light blanketed the world and all balance was restored.

Seeara throws the sun into the sky.

The Story Of Raa’venn

By Rex

Once upon a time there was a young boy, about the age of seven, who lived in a Coast Salish tribe, and his name was Raa’venn. One day, he was called upon before the chief of the tribe, Uk’natent. When he got to the chief's house, his father was not allowed to come in, for it was a private meeting with just the chief. 

When Raa’venn got in, he was very scared. “We have reason to believe that you have learned to transform into the orca far younger than all the other men in the village. Is this true?” Chief Uk’natent asked. 

“Yes,”  said Raa’venn. He was still very scared. He felt he had done something wrong, even though he hadn’t. 

“Don’t be scared, child, you have nothing to fear here,” said the chief. 

Raa’venn said, “Okay. Ummmm… yeah, I can shapeshift into an orca, oooooh, I can show you if you want.” 

“No, no, NO, NOOO—” the chief said, but it was too late, the boy had transformed into an orca and completely destroyed the chief's house.

The chief started to cry because a special blanket his deceased wife had made him was destroyed. And his only child, a baby who had just been sitting in a crib, was now nowhere to be found. The chief thought his baby was injured or dead, but he was wrong and right at the same time. 

When the boy transformed back into his humanoid form, he saw and realized what he had done. “You are now banished from this tribe. Never come back, and if you do, there will be dire consequences,” the chief said sternly. 

Raa’venn felt so horrible he didn’t even try to argue with the chief, like most normal people would do if the chief had just banished them. So Raa’venn set out on a quest, a quest to find the chief’s child and wife and bring them back from the dead.

 He,himself, had lost someone very important to him, his mother, and he was very sad, but he had been thankful for the time he spent with her.

 He first went to the tribe of the Otters.  When at night, everyone who had died on Otter Beach came back and took the lives of anyone else on Otter Beach that they could see. Raa’venn was scared because he thought they might kill him, but then he remembered, if a loved one died on that beach, then at night, you would not be harmed. And Raa’venn’s mother had died on that beach, and besides, even if they did try to harm him, he could just turn into a huge orca whale, so he knew he had nothing to fear. 

He got to the beach just before sunset and then he set up camp, a small tent with a little fire a few feet away from it. When the sun set, he went into his tent and waited. Just a few minutes later, he heard eerie whispering on the beach, and then he knew that the Otter people had come to the beach, so he stood up and walked out of the tent. He started looking around for the chief's child and wife. He searched throughout the entire night and came out empty handed, so he went to his next stop, the Sharks in the sea.

 He got there the next day at sunset and then slept on the beach. Right before he was about to enter shark village, a bolt of lightning struck him, and he felt a wave of power flow through him, like the water flowing in a stream, only this was much more powerful. He went into a coma for two whole weeks, and when he woke up, he was on the exact same beach. 

He was surprised he hadn’t been taken. He was about to stand up, but when he did, he realized he no longer had the ability to transform into an orca, but he now had the ability to transform into a raven. From what he knew, there was no one else who could transform into a raven, but he did remember reading in a scroll, that the one who is chosen to become Raven would make them one of the most knowledgeable and powerful beings in the world aside from Thunderbird. He was very surprised and he didn’t know what to think of it, so he just went on his way.

 He went into Shark Village and walked into the chief’s house. “Have you seen the daughter or wife of Chief Uk’natent of the Orca tribe?” said Raa’venn.  “No, I have not, but what I do see is a very tasty looking snack,” said the chief of Shark Village. 

Then, Raa’venn started running, and when he got out of the water, the Shark Chief was still chasing him, except he was now in his humanoid form. Raa’venn ran all the way back to his village. But when he got there, Chief Uk’natent saw him and ordered his guards to stop him. When the guards stopped him, he ran away from them. Now he had to run away from not just the Shark Chief, but he also had to run away from the two guards who were chasing him as well. Then, the Shark Chief cornered Raa’venn and scared the guards away. But, then, Raa’ven transformed into Raven and he and the Shark Chief had a great battle, and, in the end, Raa’venn won, but he hadn’t killed the Shark Chief and was nowhere to be found.

 In the battle, they had destroyed the entire village and everyone in it. The Shark Chief never returned to Shark Village, and, in time, everyone in Shark Village had to vote on who should be the new Chief, and everyone chose a very kind chief and they all lived happily ever after. 

As for Raa’venn, after the battle with the Shark Chief, he said that he would no longer be known as Raa’venn, but that he would now be known as Raven. Overcome by sadness and grief, he became a trickster and a very mischievous Raven, and that is why all the ravens are so smart, because they take after their great great great great grandfather. 

Grief has overcome Raven, all the time, even when he seems like he's being a hero, he is still searching for the Shark Chief. After a time, he became a shaman, but he was still looking for the Shark Chief, even when you least expect it. Eventually he gave up his search and just settled down, but don’t be fooled, he’s still a trickster, because he is still overcome by grief. And he doesn’t want anyone to become overcome by grief, too.

And that was how Raven came into existence, he was just a boy but then he became Raven, a mischievous person and a trickster. He has been alive for thousands of years, helping and tricking people. He had many adventures with some of his friends, allies and enemies. That's the way it was, and he liked it.

The City Stealer

By Rye

A long time ago, there was an abandoned city on the coast of a fast flowing river. The buildings were overgrown with moss and vines that climbed the walls of the concrete houses and made cracks in between the hard, stout concrete walls, allowing rain water to freely flow into the house and mold the old furniture.

In the middle of the city sat an old castle with a drawbridge allowing access to the castle's grand entry. The grand doors were made of a beautiful light blue color, which was a result of stainless copper oxidizing over time. Around the castle was a large moat, filled to the brim with crystal clear blue water. Lily pads sat atop the water, using it as if it were a throne for a king. Large mangrove trees, their roots stuck into the mucky floor of the moat, grew high into the sky providing shade for the city in the morning and late afternoon, when the sun dipped lower than the trees.                                                                                                                           Every night, when the moon cast its golden fingers on the concrete streets, a mysterious creature would move in the shadows. This creature was called Night Dweller. Nobody ever saw the Night Dweller, but they heard its ear splitting shriek, and in the morning they saw the damage that was done to the city. The Night Dweller would take a wall from a random house and destroy it. 

The people eventually got so scared of Night Dweller, that they ended up leaving the city to begin construction on a new city. And so this city was abandoned  never to be seen again. This is the reason why the people moved to their new city.

That was the time that Raven was born. Raven flew around the world solving problems, and making the world a better place. Soon after birth Raven found the old city, because Raven could see very well in the night, he was able to spot Night Dweller lurking in the shadows. Night Dweller had no skin and was just blood and bones, his body was like a spider, its eight legs being used to rip the walls off of houses. 

Raven knew he had to do something. So the next night, Raven perched high in a tree. Raven saw the Night Dweller taking walls from the old city. So, Raven flew down, and he grabbed the Night Dweller and flew high in the sky.

Meanwhile, the people in the new city were looking up in the sky, for they had heard Ravens sharp call as he dive bombed the creature. 

Back at the old city, Raven had captured Night Dweller and was flying high into the sky, with Night Dweller hanging in its beak. Then, Raven flew to the highest volcano and dropped Night Dweller in. 

But then, Night Dweller caught the rim of the volcano. He said in a deep raspy voice, “Please, I have children. If you help me, I will live in the caves forever, and never harm you or your people.” So, Raven clapped his wings and Night Dweller got sent into a cave, far, far away with all of his children. 

The people were safe. And they have been ever since.


The Girl and the Figure

By Lilah

Far away, long ago, there sat a village, at the edge of a lake, a very silent village. All was frozen until one day, everything seemed to change, you could hear the laughs and giggles of the children, the chatter of adults. Everything beautiful grew, trees, flowers, berries.  It was a lively village, for a while.

There stood a girl, Kinokiwadabee. She was forgotten by her village. Her parent’s attention was on her older sister, Kiradami. The village loved and adored her for her beauty. People didn't care for Kinokiwadabee, but she was happy, she could do whatever she pleased. 

As night crept, the village fell silent, everyone was asleep, except for Kinokiwadabee, she could not fall asleep. 

Off in the distance, in the forest were loud footsteps, getting closer, and closer, and louder, and louder.  She could feel the presence of a large creature. Unsure of what lurked outside in the forest, she lay in her bed, completely still. She didn't dare to move a muscle.

The next day, while the children played, the adults told stories. They told a story describing a large creature, “It roams the underworld, and comes to creep around the forest at night time.”

Kinokiwadabee was intrigued at the sound of this story.  She waited till night, when everyone was asleep, she took a peek out of her cabin window, deep into the forest. It appeared that there was a large dark figure, it was taller than any tree. It was so dark out that she could not see even the slightest bit of its face. 

At the sound of the figure’s large footsteps, all of the people in the village had woken up. The sight of this creature made people want to kill it, shooting arrows at it, throwing rocks, sticks, food, whatever they could! 

To Kinokiwadabee, this creature fit the description of the monster in the story. Kinokiwadabee had a plan, she was going to set the monster on fire.  As the horrible monster screamed and stomped, she grabbed her flint and steel, and she crept up to the foot of the beast, and set it on fire! 

The horrid beast screamed in agony as it evaporated into the air. It slowly sunk into the ground. There was a voice, coming from the ground. “My body is no longer here, but my presence is.” The voice paused. “I will continue to grab onto you, I am the roots of the trees that grab your legs and make you fall. I will trip you. For all of eternity,” the voice said.  And to this day, the trees continue to grip onto us and make us trip.



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