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Native American Legends

The Five Wolves

A Sanpoils Legend

An old woman and her grandson lived near a river. The grandson wished to cross the river, and called the Deer to take him across. Finally an old buck allowed him to mount his back, and carried him across. While they were in the water, the boy cut the throat of the buck with a flint knife and killed him.

The old woman skinned the buck. Five wolves took the scent of the meat, and came intending to steal it. The old woman dressed a piece of rotten wood in skins, and made it look like the boy. Then she wished herself, her grandson, and the meat to be carried to a ledge on the face of a cliff. This cliff is pointed out close to the Okanagan River, near Oroville, Wash. When the wolves arrived, they attacked the tent, but found that what they believed was a boy was only rotten wood. They were unable to reach the ledge. They tried to jump up, but soon wearied. Then they begged for some of the meat. The grandmother told the boy to wrap a hot stone in some suet. He threw it down into the mouth of one of the wolves, and thus killed him. Thus all were killed except the youngest. When he caught the hot stone, he could not swallow it, and the fat burned the sides of his mouth. Therefore wolves have dark marks at the side of the mouth.

The grandmother and the boy continued to live on the ledge. Finally the boy had used up all his arrows, and had no feathers to make new ones. In order to obtain feathers, he caused the golden eagle and the eagle Sinaken to quarrel by telling one that the other one claimed to be swifter and stronger than he. The two eagles fought, and the boy gathered their feathers. He told his grandmother that he would join the people who were going to make war on the sky. He was transformed into a chickadee.

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