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

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Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada.

On the Knight Inlet of British Columbia there dwells a portion of the Kwakiutl Indian Tribe. Among them the Thunder Bird is known as Ts-o-na. This legend tells of the origin of their Totem Pole.

Tsona resided in Skyland, above the snowy peaks that border the inlet. One day he decided to live with the mortals of the earth, and be like them. Donning his Thunder Bird garments, he flew out of the door of the Upper World. When looking down from a mountain, he spied a berrying place by a river. There he would build a large community house for himself and his tribe. When the new lodge was finished he realized that it would have to be well guarded, for in those days the fish, birds and animals by the aid of their strong minds could change themselves into human beings. Since some of them had many evil ways he had, for his protection, the Grizzly Bears for guards.

One day as the bears were in search of food, they came upon a hungry stranger dressed in seal skins, who later became a slave to Thunder Bird.

Shortly after Dos-nog-wa, the powerful Stoneman, came to visit Tsona in his war canoe of a hundred men, for they were travelling around the world. Tsona offered them his friendship and the hospitality of his house and food. Before each guest was set a carved bowlful of oolichan grease in which to dip their fish and other eatables. These dishes were beautifully carved with the owner's crest, and one peculiar thing about them was that no matter how much of the grease was used, they were always full. Stoneman and his men were completely mystified by the unusual significance of this and the things that adorned the inside of Thunder Bird's household. When they got up to leave, they took what they had been using. As Tsona protested, they took him prisoner, and led him to their canoe. When they put out to sea, the clouds gathered, the wind blew, the water swirled and danced, and a storm was upon them. Thunder Bird's eyes blazed with fire more dazzling than the sun. Torrents of rain soon flooded the war canoe with water that washed it from end to end. The Indians had never experienced a storm like this before, and they became alarmed, expecting at any moment to be capsized into the sea. Dosnogwa offered to return Thunder Bird his freedom and his property, if he would calm the angry waves. He realized that he was in the hands of a supernatural power stronger than the self within him: one he could not defy or define. As they returned Thunder Bird to his home, the storm ceased. The day's splendour burst its glory once more upon the green things of the earth and the surrounding mountains. Never did the Indians forget their visions of the marvellous powers they had witnessed that day.

Across the shining waters of the inlet, by the mouth of a salmon river, there lived the great chief, Sisa-Kaulas, 'Everybody-Paddling-Toward-Him.' Among his family of many children there was a plump

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and pretty girl who Tsona had admired many times. He was filled with love for her, and finally he asked one day for her hand in marriage.

The Chief, to test his courage and sincerity, compelled him to walk around a hot fire, and also demanded that he give presents to him. A feast was held, and during it the Chief gave Tsona more valuable gifts than he had received, and bestowed upon him a crest and other honors. These, as always, would be delivered after the first child was born.

Should the first-born child be a son, the value of the gifts would be increased many times. This would give the wife the privilege of being independent, and of returning to her former home if she desired, or if the Chief requested. She was also required to send her children to live with their grandparents that they might learn their customs. Her eldest son would finally inherit the chiefship of her brother.

Tsona's eldest son dwelt in the home of his grandparents until he had attained manhood. He then began to build his own lodge and erect a totem pole as a crest, one that could be handed down to future generations in remembrance that it was Tsona who was the first man in the tribe to symbolize the Thunder Bird and bring peace and good will among all people. Accordingly he placed the Thunder Bird on the top, while beneath it was the Grizzly Bear holding the captive slave.

When the lodge was completed, a big feast was held. Presents were given to all the invited guests, who extended to him more favors of importance.

Two totem poles, symbolic of this ceremony are now erected in Stanley Park, close to the Lumberman's Arch. They may be seen from passing ships that ply the ocean's lanes. Strangers from many lands stand before this shrine of a fading glory gazing at these wooden carvings, these customs of a changing race.

The Lightning Symbol of the Thunder Bird.