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Salish Sea Sentinel | July 17, 2024

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Coast Salish Stories: Loon Story

Coast Salish Stories: Loon Story

By Celestine Aleck (Sahiltiniye) of Snuneymuxw First Nation

I had heard this story through Mel Good back in the day when I used to carve. I had learned that a carving would sell faster if you told a story, so I became a fast-talker! (Not really, but I did learn this story).

Long ago, there was a blind man in the village who had a bad dream of wolves coming to attack everyone. He would wake up and go and tell the people that the wolves were going to come and attack and that they needed to leave. The people didn’t believe him, or think he even knew what a wolf looked like, because he was born blind, so how would he know? They thought he was just going crazy and told him to go home. But night after night he would have the same dream and it felt so much more real each time. He would try to tell the people but again, no one would listen.

Then one day, his dream came true, and the wolves did come into the village and attack. The blind man tried to get away, and as he neared the river, he heard a voice call out to him. The voice asked if he wanted to go across the river, and the blind man said yes, but he couldn’t see. It was a loon that was calling out to him, and the loon could tell that he was blind. The loon kept calling out to him so that he knew which way to go towards. The loon waited until the blind man got close, and told the blind man to put his arms around his neck and body and he would swim him across the river. The blind man held on and as they swam across.

The loon said: “Would you like your sight back? I can help you.”

The blind man, of course, replied that he would.

The loon said: “I will go under the water four times and on the fourth time you will have your sight back.”

So the loon dunks under the water a first time, and all the blind man could see was bright white. The second time he dunked, he could see blurry shapes. On the third dunk the blurry shapes were becoming more clear. On the fourth dunk, he could see so clearly.

The loon then swam the man to the other side of the river where it was safe from the wolves. He was so thankful for the loon that he took off his dentalium necklace and threw it onto the loon and it landed around his neck. This is how the loon got its beautiful necklace.