Native American Legends
A Yakima Legend
Once five brothers lived on Great River. They were the Chinook brothers and they caused the warm wind to blow.
There were five other brothers who lived on Great River. They lived at Walla Walla, the meeting of the waters. They caused the cold wind to blow.
Now the grandparents of all these brothers lived at Umatilla, the place of wind-drifted sands.
Walla Walla brothers and Chinook brothers were always fighting. They made the winds to sweep over the country, they blew down trees and raised great clouds of dust, they froze the rivers and thawed them so as to make floods. It was very hard for the people.
At last Walla Walla brothers said to Chinook brothers: "We will wrestle with you. Whoever falls down shall have his head cut off. Thus he shall be dead."
So Coyote was made judge. He was also to cut the heads off those who fell down.
Now Coyote secretly told the grandparents of Chinook brothers to throw oil on the ground. Then their sons would not fall. Coyote also secretly told the grandparents of Walla Walla brothers to throw ice on the ground. Then their sons would not fall.
The oil and the ice made the ground very slippery. But the Walla Walla grandparents had thrown ice on the ground last. So Chinook brothers fell down. First one fell and then another, until all fell down. Then Coyote cut off their heads.
Now the oldest Chinook brother had a baby son. The baby's mother taught him he must revenge his father and uncles. So Young Chinook grew very strong. At last he felt himself very strong. He could pull up large fir trees and throw them around like weeds.
Then Young Chinook went up Great River. Wherever he went he pulled up large fir trees and threw them around like weeds. In the valley of the Yakima he turned aside and went to sleep by Setas, the creek. The mark of his sleeping-place can still be seen on the mountain side.
Then Young Chinook came back to the Great River and went to Umatilla, the place of wind-drifted sands. Here he found his grandparents very cold and hungry. Walla Walla brothers caused the northeast wind to blow all the time. They also stole their fish, when they were returning to the shore. Always they stole the fish.
Young Chinook said: "We will go fishing now." So grandfather started out to fish. Young Chinook lay down in the bottom of the boat. When the boat was full of fish, grandfather started back for the shore.
Then Walla Walla brothers started out from the shore to rob grandfather. But they could not catch the boat. Every time Walla Walla brothers came near the boat, it would shoot ahead. So grandfather reached the shore with his fish.
Then Young Chinook took his grandparents to the river and bathed them. All the straw and grass and bark which he washed off became trout. That is how trout came to be in Great River.
Now Walla Walla brothers knew that Young Chinook was alive. They sent a messenger to him. They said: "We will wrestle with you. Whoever falls down shall have his head cut off. Thus he shall be dead."
So Coyote was made judge. He was also to cut off the heads of those who fell down. Now Coyote secretly told the grandparents of Walla Walla brothers to throw ice on the ground. Coyote also secretly told the grandparents of Young Chinook to throw oil on the ground. But he told them to throw oil last.
So young Chinook wrestled with Walla Walla brothers, one after another. So the Walla Walla brothers fell to the ground. First one fell and then another, until four had fallen. Then Coyote cut off their heads. The fifth one yielded without wrestling. So Coyote let him live. But Coyote said: "You must blow only lightly. You must never freeze people again."
To Young Chinook, Coyote said: "You shall blow hardest only at night. You shall blow first on the mountain ridges to warn the people."
Thus now winter is only a little cold.
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