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The Thunder Bird Tootooch Legends, by W.L. Webber, [1936], at

p. 45

Mateeh, The Goat

Mateeh, THE GOAT

Temlaham, along the Skeena River, was a vast empire of towering timber-covered mountains, scarred deep with Klip Chuck (deep canyons), through which rushed foaming rivers teeming with salmon. The fertile valleys as well as the mountain tops were inhabited by innumerable wild animals. In this beautiful land dwelt the ancestors of the Goat Clan. The Sky Spirit, who controlled their destinies, commanded that they

should conserve the wild life. If they did this, the promised land was to be theirs forever.

The herds of wild animals multiplied so fast that the people forgot the edict of the Sky Spirit and began to slaughter them recklessly and for sport, leaving carcasses to rot and decay. Deer and mountain goats were needlessly killed, leaving their young to shift for themselves.

One day, while in search of game, a young hunter came upon a deserted kid whose mother had been killed. Taking the animal in his arms he made his way down the steep mountain side and at last to his house. He nursed the little animal back to health and became so attached to it that he would not allow anyone to ill-treat or abuse it.

As time went on there appeared in the Indian camp some Hulcima Tillicum (Strangers) in whose honor a potlatch was held. Unknown to the Indians, these strangers were mountain goats in human guise and they invited their hosts to come to their lodge, high up in the mountain, where they also would give a feast and show the Indians their mask dance. The Indians agreed to visit the strangers’ camp but were very much humiliated when the young hunter insisted on taking his young pet goat with him. When the guests were all seated and the feasting had begun, the Goat people said they would prepare for their dance.

Leaving their guests they went outside. Suddenly there was heard a terrible rumbling of falling and sliding rocks which crashed upon the lodge, carrying it over the cliffs. The pet goat, who had sensed this danger beforehand, led his master away and, when the danger had passed, continued to guide him around the steep cliffs until they finally arrived at the foot of the mountain. All the other Indians perished in the disaster.

In gratitude for the generosity of the young mountain goat, the family of the young hunter adopted the animal as a crest and totem for themselves and future generations.

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