How Payus (Snake) saved the waykanash (salmon)

     Sometimes, it is good to look back at our history to understand what is happening today.  Our oral histories carry warnings on how we should treat one another and the resources. Following this oral tradition was the only law our ancestors followed.  Here is one that seemed relevant today:

     In legendary times, when the animals walked and spoke like human beings, all of the animals were having the time of their lives.  They lived like kings and queens.  They lived in excess and became wasteful.  They became greedy and spiteful of one another.  Around the area of Cooks Landing, a village of animals began taking so much salmon, they couldn't eat all of it.  Eventually, as time went on, the salmon became very sad and sick.  The salmon all began dying and the animals didn't know what to do.  Their kingdom began to fall apart.  Things got worse and they began to starve.  They tried all different things to bring the salmon back, but they lacked the power.  They were left with no choice but to ask the old man snake medicine man (twati) for help.  He was known to be very powerful, and at times, very dangerous.  They were desperate because no one liked him.  He walked with a cane (tukash) he was so old and lived alone along the slopes of the hills nearby.  They asked snake to please help and bring the salmon to life so that they could once again live as they did before.  The snake took his tukash and began to sing over it, but that didn't work.  He then proceeded to cross over the snake five times but that didn't work. The snake was left with no other choice.  He jumped inside the salmon and brought it back to life.  The animals were ecstatic and cheered loudly.  The creator then told the animals "See what you have done? See how you have lived with all this greed?  You took too much salmon, too many foods.  You were wasteful and still you remained jealous of one another.  Now the snake has sacrificed his life to save your lives even though he treated him badly and did not like him.  One day, soon, there will be human beings.  It is now your responsibility to teach these human beings to never be wasteful and you will be at their will.  You will no longer speak, you will no longer do all these things that you have done."  The animals were terrified and understood their fate from what they had done.  

     This is a legend about being greedy and wasteful of the resources.  If we take too much and act ungrateful for what we have been gifted, they will no longer return.  When you break open the spine of the salmon, you can see snake's spine inside.  This is why we don't eat snake's because the snake twati looked after the salmon.  

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