The late xwupyawilx (Ken) Condon wrote and provided stories to the Tribune for almost a year from 2013-14. Here were the stories he shared with the tribal membership through our publication.
Ken Condon in 2013: "Our stories we have let’s you truly know what you see and how it came to be. And who these creatures are, that came before us. And coyote was the chosen one to do all the work of taming the world. I will be writing brief summaries of these long stories we have here in our little humble house we call sqlxŸi¨xŸ which means Indian House."
This is another short summary of the
Legend story of Turtle,
told by: Hazel Burke
How Turtle Won his Land
There was this little turtle, he didn’t have a place to live. He cried and cried, sobbed while he cried. One day he heard someone talking to him, he didn’t know who it was, it talked to him again. Oh it’s you turtle said, the water, the water asked why he was crying and turtle told him his problems he had, that he didn’t have a place to live. Water said well the animals are playing stick game, you go play and win three games and come back, I’ll have something for you. So turtle took off to the stick game where all the other animals were playing. Turtle crawled and crawled, he was really slow, but he got there. All the animals seen turtle coming and said there’s turtle, he hasn’t played stick game yet. So turtle got there, sat down and played and won three games and was so thrilled and happy. And went back to the water. He sat by the water and sang his song.
Which went like this,
›am··c··ní··tkwa ›arsí··kwa› ›am··c··ní··tkwa ›arsí··kwa›
›am··c··ní··tkwa ›arsí··kwa› ›am··c··ní··tkwa ›arsí··kwa›
and this is what he was singing,
sitting by the water, turtle sitting by the water, turtle
sitting by the water, turtle sitting by the water, turtle
and that was his winning song. He sang about himself. the water told him to jump in. Turtle was afraid to dive in because he said he would drown. And the water told him he wouldn’t, water said come on hurry. So turtle finally got convinced and dove in. And that’s how he got a place to live, is the water that talked to him and the water gave Turtle a place to live. He went fast and went out of sight, that Turtle. And now this beautiful song is sang at stick games. Turtle made this song for the people to be.
Why Gartersnake Wears A Green Blanket
Thunder Bird- used to fly (tuxwt) from the warm land (kwlulaxw) once every snow to devour the most beautiful of maidens (stakmix). He always wanted a maiden as soon as he appeared. He would not stand for any delay. He came at the blooming of the wood flowers, and there was wailing in the villages (snacwixtn).
This maiden chosen by the tribes because of her great beauty would have to walk out and meet the monster, and be eaten. The thing that hits would not harm the other people. That was the custom. No one ever thought to change it, of defying the terrible thunder bird.
It happened one spring that the girl who was loved by the Garter Snake was chosen to be the sacrifice to Thunder Bird. That made Garter Snake very sad. He had no wish to live without her, so decided to go with her when she went to meet the monster. Thunder Bird (sc’q’c’q’am) could be seen high in the clouds when the maiden started toward the sacrifice place. Putting on his best war shirt Garter Snake (skwkwawilxa) followed her. She looked around and saw him. She begged him to go back, to leave her. She did not want him to be killed too. But Garter Snake hurried his steps and caught up to her. ''Oh go back to our people,'' she said. ''You cannot stand before the awful suck z-cum. Let me die alone.''(knanaqs) Soon they heard the noise of the monster's wings. The maiden cried (c’qwaqw), and Garter Snake felt weak (tlxwmist), but he tried not to show his fear. Thunder Bird roared over them. His great wings shook the air and made the sky dark. He swooped low and from his mouth came a stream of fire. Garter Snake spat back.
''This person must be powerful,'' said Thunder Bird to himself. ''He spits fire as I do.'' Then, thinking to discover his small enemy's weakness (xwupts), Thunder Bird asked: ‘‘what do you fear? Of what are you afraid?'' ''Nothing (lut stim)! There is nothing I fear,'' replied Garter Snake. '' Nothing can hurt me. If you feel like fighting me, I will show you how to spit real fire. My fire spit is worse (misk’ast) than yours.'' Thunder Bird believed those words, for none of the people ever had dared to talk to him like that. Only the frightened, wailing maidens ever had come to meet him. But he hoped to scare the other, and he spat a fearful streak of fire. Garter Snake then spat a stream of sizzling fire that flashed right in the monster's face.
Thunder Bird couldn’t stand that. He turned and fled heading for the warm land spitting the hardest. Garter Snake ran after him, and not until he was sure that the monster really was beaten did Garter Snake stop chasing him. Then he shouted: “A new people are coming to the world. From this day you will not come down out of the sky to eat people. You may roam the sky, but you shall make only rumblings and crashing in the storm.” Thunder Bird never returned to eat any more maidens or destroy the tribes. But sometimes he crashes his wings, and spits his fire through the clouds (ktm’tam’t) For his bravery the people gave Garter Snake a pretty green blanket with stripes on it. skwkawilxa, the ground twister still wears that blanket.
The Bitterroot Story was provided by Native American Advisor Rita Condon, and was translated into ns¤lxcín by Millie Steele at the Language Building,
Jan 25, 2001.
In the valley in the mountains just after winter. The people were starving. The men had gone out to seek game and they had been gone a long time. It was not yet time for berries to ripen, and the women had gathered what plants they could find that could be eaten. In one of the lodges, an old woman was grieving because there was no food for her grandchildren. She could no longer bear to look at their thin, sad faces and she went out before sunrise, to sing her death song beside the little stream which ran through the valley.
She sang, “I am old, but my grandchildren are young. It is a hard time that has hard time that has come, when the children must die with their grandmothers.
As she knelt by the stream, singing and weeping, the Sun came over the mountains. It heard her death song and it spoke to that old womanÂs spirit helper. My daughter is crying for her children who are starving,’ Sun said,
Go now and help her and her people. Give them food.” Then the spirit helper took the form of a red bird and flew down into the valley. It perched on a limb above the old woman’s head and began to sing. When she lifted her eyes to look at it, the bird spoke to her.
My friend,” the red bird said, “Your tears have gone into Earth. They have formed a new plant there. One which will help you and your people to live. See it come now from Earth, its leaves close to the ground. When its blossoms form, they will have the red color of my wings and the white of your hair.”
The old woman looked and it was as the bird said. All around her, in the moist soil, the leaves of a new plant had lifted from Earth. As the sun touched it, a red blossom began to open. How can we use this plant?,” said the old woman.
You will dig this plant up by the roots with a digging stick,” the red bird said. "Its taste will be bitter, like your tears, but it will be a food to help the people live. Each year it will always come at this time, when no other food can be found.”
And so it has been to this day. That stream where the old woman wept is called Little Bitterroot and the valley is also named Bitterroot after that plant, comes each year after the snows have left the land. Its flowers, which come only when touched by the sun, are as red as the wings of the red spirit bird and as silver as the hair of the old woman. And its taste is still as bitter as the tears of that old woman, and her death song turned into a song of survival.
HOW SUN AND MOON CAME TO BE
Mole was lonely, coyote’s wife, he was away on one of his long trips.
She only two left with her at home. They were little. Every sun Mole became more lonely. She named the older of her two boys after it a rock called him Heat Rock Child. The rock was warmed by the sun. One day, while digging roots, she found a root that was white. It pleased her. As her smallest sonÂs skin was light in color, she named him White Root. The suns passed and Coyote did not return. The boys grew. White Root told his Mother that he could hear whispers coming up from the ground and he asked her the reason. You are named after the roots, Mole explained. The roots are your relatives. Heat Rock Child said that he could hear the rocks whispering to him, and his mother told him the rocks were his relatives.
Coyote finally came home. He trained his boys to get up early, made them swim in the cold river, to pray to be strong and preparing them to meet hardships, they became good warriors. They became strong in body and spirit, and Mole was proud White Root was handsome and white of skin, while Heat Rock was red of skin, and strong, and long of limb.
Coyote heard there was to be a big council in the next country, to decide on who should be the the Sun and the Moon. Coyote two sons wanted to go, when they left, Coyote suddenly decided to go with them. When got there, the people worried.
The people said they had not found anyone suited for the Sun or Moon. They were either too hot or too cold, or too bright or too dim.
I will be the sun-god, declared Coyote, and the people allowed him to try.
He took the sun-lodge across the sky, but he saw everything that people did. Seeing people in secret love, he yelled down to them, much to their embarrassment. He told on those who were hiding. The people were glad when the day was over.
They lost no time in taking Coyote from the sun-lodge.
Then they asked CoyoteÂs sons to try, but they refused. They wanted to remain on earth. Now, among those at the council was Frog Woman.
She was in love with the white-skinned.
Her medicine was the rain. She caused a big rain to fall,
And everything got sopping wet. The people were soaked to the skin and could not get dry, as all their fires were put out, but Frog Woman’s everyone got cold.
White Root suggested to his brother that they go to her lodge and get dry by her fire. Heat Rock did not want to go. Knowing that Frog Woman loved his brother, White Root. He became so cold that he went to her lodge by himself.
Her lodge was warm and dry. White Root was glad he had come.
Frog Woman said, my husband, Take your place on the deer skin robe. He said no, I’ll sit near the entrance. Frog tried hard to get him to sit next to her.
But he shook his head and stayed by the doorway.
Frog Woman became angry. Suddenly she changed herself into a real frog and jumped---smack!---- at the young manÂs smooth white face.
She struck his cheek and clung there.
Now you cannot leave me, never Frog said.
White Root tri···ed to take Frog-Woman off his cheek. All the people tried to take her off. Nothing could budge Frog-Woman. White Root gave up hope.
Ashamed of his appearance, he said to the people, I will the moon, I will go across the sky. White Root travels by night. because he is ashamed of his ugly wife. She still clings to his cheek. You can see her when the nights are clear.
His white face gives the moon it's light. The dark spot on his face is Frog-Woman.
Then Heat Rock decided to be the Sun because his brother was the Moon. They cross paths only at eclipse.
snkÂlip na›¨ kkcilxkn
coyote and woodtick
›ayÅŸt (tired) and ›ilxŸt (hungry) snkÂlip sat in his hunting camp teepee. He had not found any sŒÂa›cínm (deer) for a long time.
He said I wish I had some sŒÂa›cínm s¨iqŸ (deer meat) and he heard something fall at the doorway of the teepee. He got up and looked.Eh-ahe. On the ground was a pack of venison. That made Coyote feel good. He quickly kindled a uríslpÂm (fire) u¨ø kÂŸlcncút (cook) a big meal. He mqÂínk (filled, full) his belly and had a Ås›ítx. (good sleep). Next morning he was up and out hunting before sun's light reached into the woods. ''I will find deer Àapná› (today) nstils (thought) Coyote. That pack of meat at my doorway last night shows that there are deer in this tmxŸúla›xŸ (country, land). But he did not see deer all day. By night he was very hungry again and very tired. Resting on his robes in the teepee, he wished aloud for more s¨iqŸ (venison, meat) and another pack of it came bouncing through the doorway. Coyote ŒÂíksm (peeked) out to see who brought the meat, but there was lut swit (no one) in sight.
Now who answers my wishes so promply,'' he asked himself. I must find out Åláp (tomorrow) night.'' He hunted all the next day without success, and that snkŸkŸ›ác (night) instead of laying on his robe to rest.
He crouched just inside of the door-flap. Then he wished for deer-meat. Eh-ahe! There it was-right at his feet- a pack of venison that would last him half-a-moon. Jumping through the doorway, he saw a tk¨mílxŸ (woman) in the woods. At last he knew , snqnqsilxŸs (his neighbor). He could not mistake her. suxŸs (He recognized) her flat shiny head. She was kÂkÂcÂílxkn (Woodtick). snkÂlíp tÂqŸcínms (Coyote yelled) "You shiny head! You flat head woman! I thought a maiden worth having was favoring me.
kÂkÂcÂílxkn (Woodtick) was no longer a young woman, and that insult made her Àaymt (angry). She was used to being treated with respect, for she was ruler of all the deer. She did not answer Coyote; She went on as if she had not heard him.
Coyote returned to his camp and ate some of the venison she had given him. That bundle of venison lasted many suns, but it could not last forever. When the last scrap was gone, Coyote wished for more. but no pack of venison fell at his doorway. He wished many times and kÂaw i›¼s¨iqŸ.(No meat came).Then he realized kuk-chilxken must still be very angry. "I will make up with her,"Coyote remarked, and went over to her lodge.
Wood-tick would not look at him when he entered. She turned her back and would not answer his greeting. Coyote knew that he could not make up with her. So he grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground. He pounded her head with a xŒÂut (rock), making her head even flatter than before. That's what you get for being ntÂytÂyína› (stubborn), said Coyote, and he tossed Wood-tick's body to one side.
Old maid Wood-tick rules the deer to this day. That is why there are Wood-ticks on the back of all the deer. The end.
HOW TURTLE GOT HIS TAIL
The story of rabbit and turtle. Rabbit was fast no one could beat him, he won many tails. So one day turtle went to Rabbit and said that he would like ti race him. So Rabbit thought that was a pretty funny thing. turtle said tomorrow we will race.
All the animal people gathered the next morning to watch the race. They started and Rabbit left Turtle in the dust, he was so far ahead he decided to take a rest and fell asleep, when he woke he was Rabbit some distance ahead, he jumped and went and passed Turtle and the same thing happened, he got far ahead and decided to take a rest and fell asleep again. When he woke again Rabbit was far ahead once again, so Rabbit jumped up and hopped past Turtle again. It was a long race, on the home stretch Rabbit decided to take another rest, he was so far ahead. When he woke this time he didn’t see Turtle no where around. He thought Turtle gave up, he rubbed his eyes and far off near the finish line he saw Turtle. Rabbit was shocked because he slept too long this time, he ran his fasted, as hard as he could go, but could not catch Turtle, so Turtle won the race. And all the animal people laughed at Rabbit. Rabbit was ashamed, all the tails Turtle had won he tried on. And finally he liked frog’s tail, it matched the color of his body. So now that’s why all Rabbit’s have little fluffy tails, because Turtle won Rabbit’s tail to and he cut it off.
The story of Lil Slaqs
There was this little mosquito called slaqs. He had four older brothers. One night his brothers made him stay in their sweat all night, because he didn't have no power. During the night slaqs heard screaming and yelling, his brothers were getting killed. Morning came and slaqs went to see, found all his brothers dead He cr······ied and cried. So he made a canoe and floated down river, crying. He sang his song O O O····· La La kŸu pulstlx i¨qáqcÂa›. What meant, o-o-oh th-they ki-killed m-my brothers. He passed by two camps the people asked him to come and eat. He said o-o-oh n-n-no. You see this little slaqs stuttered when he talked. At the third camp they yelled at him to come and eat and he said o-o-oh n-n-no. So the camp people said we have uncooked blood, and in no time slaqs turned his canoe around, went to shore and tied it up. Slaqs was greedy when it came to uncooked blood. He drank and drank the blood. Then some of the people went and untied his canoe, they yelled he·······y slaqs your canoe is floating away. Slaqs was so full of blood he couldn’t run fast. As he was running he tripped and fell and landed on a stick and pierced his stomach. Out flew a little fly from his stomach, it sang O-O-O·· La La kŸu pulstlx i¨qáqcÂa›. To this day slaqs lives on the blood of people, for the revenge of the death of his brothers. The people said to slaqs when the future generation comes you will sing your song for the dead. (Then I came Back - wayÂ kn ¨ckicx)