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Native American Legends

Salmon goes to war

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

In the days when the Inland Empire was peopled by animals, birds, reptiles and fish - before human beings had been thought of - the banks of the Spokane river were the scene of a battle between the denizens of the water and the land.

Two beautiful maidens were the cause of the war. Both the land and the water people desired to have the maidens married into their respective ranks. Open hostilities were declared, and a short time later the maidens disappeared. At the same time Old Man Wolf and his family disappeared.

Mud Turtle led the first charge of the water people. The land people grew tired of watching his slow progress, and soon he was among them destroying them right and left. Bald Eagle finally shot an arrow between his shells, killing him. Long Jump, the frog, struck down many of the animal people before being killed. Salmon was then chosen. His armor of scales deflected the arrows and he made long leaps, inflicting great damage with his wicked tail and strong jaws. Finally, a flight of arrows fired from behind found their way under his scales, and he was killed.

Mrs Mouse, the Salmon's cousin, had a dam across the river. She and her children rescued the bodies from the war as they floated down the river. When Salmon's body drifted down, the mice dragged it carefully from the river. She bound his wounds and made a little sweat house. Mrs Mouse's power was great, and Salmon lived again. Rattlesnake had betrayed Salmon and told how he could be killed. He was worried and went to the rocky country near Long Lake where he lives today. Salmon fought and defeated Rattlesnake and placed a curse on him and his family. This is why they always crawl in the dust and dirt and why they are hated and will be as long as the mountains stand and the rivers run.

Salmon built a sweat house and danced and sang. Finally, he knew who had taken the girls - the Wolf! Salmon defeated the Wolf and sent the girls back to their families. And so ended the tragic war between the water people and the land people.

It has never been resumed.

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