Native American Legends
A Tillamook Legend
As-ai-yahal, the god, lived far up in the country. A long time
ago he traveled all over the world. He came down the river and arrived
at Natahts. There he gathered clams and mussels. He made a fire
and roasted them. When he opened them; he found two animals in each
shell. After he had roasted them he began to eat and soon had enough.
That made him angry and he said, "Henceforth there shall be
only one animal in each shell."
The god came to Tillamook Bay and then went up the river. He had
to cross it far up because he had no canoe and the river was deep.
He met a number of women who were digging roots. He asked, "What
are you doing there?" They replied, "We are digging roots."
He said, "I do not like that." He took the roots away
and sent them to Clatsop. Ever since that time there have been no
roots at Tillamook while at Clatsop they are very plentiful.
He went on and came to a river full of salmon which were clapping
their fins together. He caught one of them, threw it ashore, stepped
on it, flattening it. It became a flounder. Ever since then flounders
have been plentiful at Tillamook while there have been no salmon
As-ai-yahal traveled on and came to a house in which he saw people
lying around the fire. He asked, "What is the matter? Are you
sick?" "No," they replied, "we are starving.
East Wind wants to kill us. The river, sea, and beach are frozen
over and we cannot get any food."
Then he said, "Can't you make East Wind stop blowing so you
can secure food?" He went out of the house and far up the river,
which was frozen over. It was so slippery he could hardly stand.
He went up the river to meet East Wind and to conquer him. Before
he came to the house of East Wind, he took up some pieces of ice
which he threw into the river, saying, "Henceforth it shall
not be as cold as it is now. Winter shall be a little cold but not
very much so. You shall become herring." The ice at once became
herring and swam down the river.
As-ai-yahal went on until he reached the house of East Wind. He
entered and whistled. He was trembling with cold, but did not go
near the fire. He said, "I am so warm I cannot go near the
fire." Then he told East Wind he came from a house where they
were drying herring.
East Wind said, "Don't say so. It is winter now. There will
be no herring for a long time to come."
As-ai-yahal replied, "Don't you believe me? There are plenty
of herring outside." He took an icicle which he warmed at the
fire. "Look how quickly it boils," he said to East Wind
as the ice melted. He made East Wind believe that the melting ice
was a herring.
Then East Wind ceased to blow, the ice began to melt, and the people
had plenty of food. Until then, it had been winter all the year;
now we have both summer and winter.
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