Quileute legend may contain on occasion customary customs of day-to-day life and even comprise spiritual or mythic elements. In the beginning, the Quileute had no form of writing so every legend had to be communicated orally from generation to generation so as to preserve and record their history. There can be both a moral and psychological theme to the work, in addition to entertainment value, depending on the nature of the storyteller, the manner of the telling, the ages of the audience members, and the overall context of the performance . The reciting of legends seems to be a cultural worldwide, primary to both basic and complex societies.
Religious components can be noticed in the Quileute legend of their existence; it depicts how the first Quileute was formed from a wolf by a traveling shape shifter, the trickster. He also created all the animals in the world according to their needs.
Legend has it that with the beaver he grabbed a stone and secured it to the Beaver’s tail, saying, “Henceforth you must always wear it there. From now on you shall live in the river; and when an Indian comes near you, you will splash your tail in the water and dive under to escape.”
He created the deer , he encountered a deer, who was sharpening shells, and singing, “I am sharpening these for Kweeti.” He grabbed the shells, fastening them on Deer’s head for ears then told him “that now he was forever doomed to run away from the Indians, and then suddenly stop in his flight, look around, and run on again”.
He then moved on, and reached the Quileute River. At that time there were no Indians at that place. So he spit on his arm, rubbing the dirt into little balls, and tossed them into the river, and behold Indians appeared.
Legend has it at Quileute he transmutated wolves into Indians, and told them that a pauper might have but one wife, but that a chief or wealthy man could have from four to eight.
Some of the legends can be right-down distressful as in this Quileute legend.
“Raven Invites the Supernatural Beings”
At one time Raven threw a potlatch, and invited all the supernatural beings. They arrived and waited outside, while Raven made a good seat for his daughter within the house. The guests danced as they went into the house, singing, “Kwa’te, kwa’te, kwa’te!” A few had blankets attached around their waists, others under their arms. When they had all entered, they approached and speared Raven’s daughter. They shrouded her entire body and face with spears, and so she passed away.
* The potlatch is a festival or ceremony exercised among Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. At these assemblies a family or hereditary leader hosts guests in their family’s house and throws a banquet for their guests. The primary intent of the potlatch is the re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth.
All varieties of folktales including myths, legends, fairy tales, fables, have been created and passed on by word of mouth; some of them have been scripted and conserved but a few have been of traditional written origin. Several of the Quileute legends can be found on this website and others are still yet to be retold.
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