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

p. 50

Kuuma, The Bull Head


This story comes from the Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands who followed the Raven's Code of Laws and, like all the Indians of the Northwest Pacific Coast, believed in perpetual life.

Ka-Ka (Raven), was feeling in the best of health and spirits for he had just finished his customary swim and he had scrubbed himself thoroughly with hemlock branches, rubbing the skin until the blood came. This did not trouble him very much, for Raven had Elip Skookum (great strength). To test it he would pull the branches of the trees and uproot others. He took this exercise to develop a strong body. He was making his way to his greased blackfish hunting canoe to relax and think. He knew his mind had to be alert to struggle with the forces of nature, the creation of his grandfather.

Raven was attracted to a receding pool, left by the tide, in which Bull Head was swimming around. Raven was beginning to feel hungry and was playing with some cracked mussel shells, slyly scattering them in the water here and there. Bull Head refused the attentions which were showered upon him and continued his swimming. At last he spoke and said: "I know you, you old liar and deceiver, this is another of your tricks." At this Raven became quite angry and pronounced this curse on Bull Head: "You will always have a big head and a small body. You will be smooth and slippery, be a scavenger and an outcast among all the fish of the sea." Raven then realized that this talk had made him hungrier than ever and that he would have to try elsewhere for something to eat.

The tide then came and joined the pool with deep water and Bull Head made his way quickly to Dorsal Fin Town in which lived queer creatures who were men before the Raven gave light to the world. Dorsal Fin Town was ruled by a mighty prince. In the houses were assembled the souls of the dead, waiting for their lives to be renewed. Bull Head told all the Ocean People what had been said by Raven.

Bull Head appears only on the black slate totem poles of the Haida Indians. It is difficult to secure this symbol which is jealously guarded. Among other tribes it is passing into disuse. The Bull Heads are a sept of the Killer Whales.

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