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Legends of the Secwepemc
Coyote and Salmon

salmon, hung to dry, part of a field trip excursion to bring the culture back taken by Chief Atahm School, photograph taken by Meyna Nakashima 2003

Secwepemc Family at Fishing Camp circa 1940's

Some time after Coyote had introduced salmon to the people, he said, “ I have never given a feast yet. Why should I not feast the people?” He caught and dried great numbers of sockeye and king salmon, and also made much salmon oil and buried lots of salmon eggs.

Then he sent out messengers to invite all the people. He said to himself. “I will sing a great song and perform a dance when the people assemble. They will think me a great man.”

Coyote practiced the dance and sang, going in and out between the poles where the salmon were drying. While doing so, his hair was caught in the gills of one of the salmon, and he could not free himself. He got angry, pulled the whole salmon down, and threw it into the river. Immediately, all the salmon came to life, and jumping off the poles, ran to the river.

Coyote tried to stop them, but could not. As he was trying to catch the last one, he noticed that the salmon oil had also come to life, and was running to the river. Coyote ran to try to stop it, but it was too late. The salmon eggs he had buried had also come to life and jumped into the river.

When the people arrived, they found nothing to eat and were very angry. They thought Coyote had played a trick on them.

Coyote and Salmon, Told by Lawrence Michel

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