The Rash Youth and the Salmon

Although the salmon’s body is broken and decays at the end of the spawning season, the salmon only seems to die. Its soul goes back to its home in the ocean and returns every spawning season.


Once there was a young man at Shelton Creek who said, “What is this story the old men tell us about the salmon never dying? I shall make a trial and see whether the salmon really lives again.” The name of the salmon of which he spoke was toa’let.

One day, when the salmon were running strong, the young man speared a salmon and cast it upon the shore. The young man had with him some cord woven of cedar bark (slagwats). He fastened this about the salmon in three places; about the gills, before the middle fin and about the tail. The salmon died. Soon it decayed and passed from sight.

Again it was the season of the salmon run. The salmon were running thickly; they filled the stream from bank to bank. The young man and all the other people of the village were gathered on the bank to watch them.

At once a king salmon, bound with three cords of cedar bark, came to the surface and approached the shore. As he had done before, the young man speared the salmon and cast it upon the shore.

Immediately the young man fell in a faint and expired. The people called a doctor, who worked over the young man. The doctor learned from his spirit helper, and told the people, that the salmon had taken the soul of the young man and borne it to a distant ocean to take the place of his own.

That is why the bow and arrow are hung up and not used during the time of the king salmon run which recurs each alternate year. If those weapons were carried out, a stray arrow might strike and injure the king salmon.

The Origin of the Squaxins | Mason Lake and the Crying Loon