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Illustration by P.G de Hunter
CONTRIBUTION · 4th April 2012
Told by the Aluugigat

Long, long ago when Tamlahamid (aka Temlaham, Damelahamid, Temlaxam) stood on the banks of the Ksan, the animals of the forests, streams and mountains were very unhappy. The people of Tamlahamid were such good hunters. The animals began to think that soon none of them would be left.

Grizzly Bear called all the big animals to a meeting at his house.

"Brothers and Sisters," began Grizzly Bear, "we need a plan to save us from the people of Tamlahamid. They kill us in the valleys. They kill us in the forests. They chase us up the mountains and even to our dens. We are safe nowhere. I say we should ask the Great Spirit to make a season of cold and snow. That would make it hard for them to follow us."

Mountain Lion, Caribou, Moose, Elk, Black Bear, Wolverine and Mule Deer all agreed.

Only Wolf spoke out. "Your plan sounds good," said Wolf, "but I think we should call all the small animals, even the mice and insects. If we don't let them have their say, they might speak against our plan. Then everything might come to nothing."

On the next day, the large animals gathered on a wide plain. All the small animals came too, even the mice and insects. The large animals sat down, facing the small ones.

Grizzly Bear stood up. "Friends," he said. "You know we are all being hunted to death by the people of Tamlahamid. Unless we do something about it, not one of us will be left. So we need to make a plan. I think we should ask the Great Spirit to give us very cold, snowy winters, so that the people cannot chase us - and you - to our dens.

"I agree," said Mountain Lion.

Grizzly Bear turned to all the small animals. " Have you anything to say?" he said.

"What you all say is all very well," said Porcupine. "You have thick fur. You can keep warm on the coldest days. Look at my friend Beetle, here. What about Fly and Salamander? How are they going to keep warm? How are the other tiny beings going to find food and shelter in this hard winter you are going to ask for? I beg you not to ask for the greatest cold."

"Well," replied Grizzly Bear. "There's no need to take any notice of what friend Porcupine has said. We big animals have agreed, so that is that."

"Yes," said Moose. "Hear, hear!" "We don't care about the Porcupine anyway."

"Now look here," shouted Porcupine angrily. "Tell me this then. Where are you going to get your food from during this long cold winter? All the roots will be frozen. The leaves will be dead and the berries will be under the snow. Hunger is what you'll get. We little ones will be all right. We can live on bark. the smallest insects can find shelter and food under the ground."

Porcupine was really angry now. He stuck his thumb into his mouth and bit it off. "Confound it;" he cried. He spat his thumb out. He nodded and sat down, still glaring at the Grizzly Bear.

The big animals said nothing for some time.

With a sigh Grizzly Bear got up.

"You are quite right, " he said. "I say we make Porcupine our Halayt.

"This is what we shall ask for. In winter we shall have ice and snow. Spring shall be full of showers and green growth. Summer shall be a warm time, when the fish run up the rivers. In Autumn the leaves shall fall from the trees. Then rain shall fall and the rivers shall overflow. This will warn the animals to get ready for the winter. "

Most of the animals agreed with Porcupine's plan. One or two big animals did not.Porcupine was angry and hit them with his tail. He left his quills in their flesh. The rest of the animals went home.

And so it was. Winter came after the rain and falling leaves of Autumn. Each animal found a hidden place for himself. And if you want proof that this is so, you may see Porcupine walking through the forest in winter. He is out and about on his thumb-less paws. He is visiting other animals in their dens.

Editors Note: Credited to HARVESTING THE KSAN - GITKSAN AND TSIMSHIAN LEGENDS. Told by the Aluugigat. Retold by Robin Thistle. Illustrated by Patricia Hunter.

and so it was..
Comment by Pat#1 on 3rd April 2012
A very good story indeed.