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The Story of the Flood [archive]

This article has been archived from the Chehalis Tribal Newsletter for educational purposes. The legend is only available in .PDF format which is hard for some of our users to read, so we have reproduced it here in plain text. The original version can still be accessed here (you will have to scroll down a few pages to get to it.) Contents are the property of the Chehalis Tribe. Please visit our Article Archive Index for further information. If you are the author of this article and would like to make changes to it, or if you are the author of another article you would like us to add to our archives, please contact us.

The Story of the Flood

A long time ago, the animals and birds lived as people. Thrush wanted to marry a certain young girl, but her parents did not approve of him. The young girl, however, wished to marry him. The girl persisted and finally her parents gave their consent. Thrush and the young girl were married.

Thrush always had a dirty face; he never washed before he ate. His mother-in-law asked him “Why don’t you wash your face?” Thrush did not answer. The next morning she asked again “Why don’t you wash your face? It’s getting dirty.” Thrush once again did not reply. She asked him the same question for 5 days in a row.

Finally on the 5th day, Thrush said “If I wash my face, something will happen.” Nevertheless, his wife’s parents still insisted. Then they gave him an ultimatum. “If you don’t wash your face, we’ll take our daughter away from you.” So Thrush finally gave in, “All right then, I’ll wash my face”.

He went to the river to wash his face and sang, “Father-inlaw, Mother-in-law, Keep moving back from the river.”

He washed his face. The dirt rolled off, leaving his face streaked all over. Then it began to rain. It rained all day.

Thrush told his in-laws, “Move back from the river. I washed my face as you asked.”

The river continued to rise. It rained many days and nights. Soon there were no places for the people to stand but in the water. The water rose and covered everything. There was no place for them to go. Many drifted away and were never seen again.

Thrush, his wife and his in-laws landed their canoe on this side of the land, in Upper Chehalis country. There was only the top of one tall fir tree sticking out of the water. And that is where the People tied their canoe.

They got together and planned what they should do next. They agreed that someone needed to dive in the water and see how deep it was. Muskrat dove into the water and came up with some dirt. He dove down into the water 5 times. Each time he brought up some dirt. From the dirt, he made a little mountain. He told the People to land there, that they would be safe. He told the People “This is the mountain that I have made for you so that you can be safe”. The People called that mountain Tiger Lily Mountain. It is known today as Black Mountain.

After the water receded and the earth dried up, the earth was found to be covered with dried whales (fossils). At Gate, not far from Mima Prairie, the earth still remains in the shape of the waves. It extends like this for 4 or 5 miles.

After the water subsided, the earth was just like new and the People could begin all over again. It was said “There shall never again be a person who will cause a flood when he washes his face.” Thrush turned into a bird and flew away.

Additional Reading

  Indian flood myths
 Native legends
  Chehalis language
 Northwest Coast tribes
 Washington State Indians
 Salish tribes

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