Valley of the Spirits [upper Skagit]












Magic, World-View





p. viii transcription (mostly IPA)













Chapter 9.0-1


9. (pp. 144-89) "The Spirit-World".

9.0 (pp. 144-7)




"The guardian spirits are of two types, s-qela`litut and dxw-da`>eb.

The former, ... "lay spirits," the latter, "shamanistic spirits."

The term s-qela`litut is itself clearly related to the term qelqela`litut, which means "dream" : qel ("hear"); al (a connector); >itut ("sleep"). ...

The term dxw-da`>eb may be derived from the form d< meaning "to call." ...


Lay spirits gave varied attributes such as ability at fishing, hunting, woodworking, or acquiring wealth ... .

Shamanistic spirits conferred only curing ... abilities."


"Much of the year most lay spirits spent with others of their kind in "s-qela`litut land," a world "outside" the human one. Here they lived eternal lives ... .

Shamanistic spirits were said to be always with their owners. ... When a shaman came into the room, the assumption was that his spirits came with him and lay about him".

"Mentioning a spirit by name is supposed to be tantamount to summoning him."


"Animals which were shamanistic only ... were

minnows, k>ik>ia`di;

kingfisher, c>i`xwc>ixw;

lizard, dedi`cxay>;

loon, s-wu`kwed;

owl, tekwtekwelu`s;

snake, bec>a`c;

whale, k>ak>aa`laxic; and

woodpecker, teqtqa`c^. ...


A complex of lay spirits which animate objects ... are sometimes all grouped together under the category s-gwedi`lic^ includes

a spirit by that name, as well as




tu`sted, and



Spirits with human or semihuman form include ...

>ilya`bac>us, a woman with two faces;

sta`lkalb, a female spirit each of whose hairs was named;

c>a`yq, a small hunched man;

tiyu`leba`xed, a man who lives under the water at The Dalles in the Skagit River ...;

hi`ide>, a man who lives under salt water;

sk>u`tab, a spirit that heals smallpox ...;

spi`ged, a woman who knows when someone dies ...;


s-kayu`>, a skeleton spirit;

tubs^a`dad, a man who flies around the world during the year ...;

c^a`gwalq>w, a man who split a rock to make a seat for himself opposite Rockport ...; and

ka`lalitabiqw, a giant who lives in swamps."

9.1 (pp. 147-8, 151-60, 162-9) "Lay Spirits".




"Bear, c^e`txwed, was a spirit which gave hunting power. ... . ... men who have this spirit tend to have large feet and deep voices as bearlike characteristics."


"In myth the bear and the ant (l>a`l>ac^eped) have a contest to see how long the alternating periods of daylight and night would be. ...


The bear ... wanted a year of summer and a year of winter ... . The ant won the contest".


[myth] "The older brother went half-way and came back. ... The younger brother kept on. When he found the mountain whistler, he heard it whistle. ... He stayed an received a power, staka`yu "timber wolf," ... he got down to the river and sat down on a big rock which flattened as he sat down. ... People coming up the river, saw something shining bright. ... He looked shining bright, like the sun. ... They say whenever they wanted game, they could just go and kill it outdoors. There used to be a lot of game around his house. The manís new name was c^a`gwalq>w, meaning "brought something down."


Another spirit helpful in hunting was ubdi`adad. ...


One of the most famous wealth spirits was tiyu`leba`x.ed. This spirit lived at the bottom of a deep place with swirling water in the Skagit River near s-ba`liqw, the present town of Concrete."


[myth] "A blind man lived at spa`dak [part of s-ba`liqw]. ...


Only his daughter who was an adult stayed with him. ... The girl aimed her fatherís bow for him.

{The daughters of Oarion were transformed into comets (AL:M 25); comets are Ďhairyí; cf. Carthaginian womenís hair for catapults.}


She was not strong enough to pull the bowstring. Her father shot when she aimed and killed the elk. She and her father had a lot of food then. Her father went to seek tiyu`leba`x.ed. He took a rock


which he had tied with cedar [cf. Skagit corpse "was then tightly bound with cedarbark mats." (p. 233)]

{Oarion was guided by Kedalion (/kedeos/ Ďin charge for burialí),


bark. He dropped ... down in the deep river. ...

"to march straight across the middle of the sea" (S:Ae 10.763).


The rock pulled him down ... above the house of tiyu`leba`x.ed. ...

{As for Cian, the "three fathers" ("E") of Ecne "pelted him with stones" (FChT). Cf. "threefather Orion" (N:D 13.96).}


The spirit cleaned his eyes so that he was no longer blind. ...

{Helios restored eyesight to the blinded Oarion.}


He now had the power to make game come to the door of his house and drop dead. ...


His wife cried so much that her tears made deep grooves down her cheeks."

{For her husband O`d, Freyja wept tears of gold (according to the Edda). A colloidal suspension of gold is RED. A RED juice is that of pomegranate : Ďpomegranate-treeí is /Side/, the name (A:B 1.25) of the wife of Oarion.}


"A second wealth spirit, >ilya`bac>us, ... was a female spirit with two faces, one on each side of her head. ... the Upper Skagit called this spirit spi`ged, because she can see things from the back of her head.

{"In Junoís temples, the goddess was personified at her Gate (Janua Coeli, "Gate of Heaven") with two faces looking in both directions" ("CJ").}


A third wealth spirit, hi`ida, ... lived only in salt water, and ... had a house beneath the waves."


"Wealth was also conveyed by "two lady spirits," ta`di slale`dey> (literally, "more than one woman"). ...

[myth] Two women were rolling hail as soon as the sun rose. ... They rolled the hail from sunrise to sunset, from east to west. The rainbow is in the west where the hail is supposed to land."


"A fifth wealth spirit q>e`xwked had a song which his owner sang while traveling in canoes on salt water. The spirit ... "made objects come to the owner.""


"Upper Skagit had a type of spirit called si`ud. ... This spirit had the form of a woman with long hair which completely covered her face and body. She protected the house ... . ...

si`ud, she is a real old lady. Her hair hangs straight down. She protects the home. Whoever lives in the house and has this power has to be just so. Whenever she gets mad wherever she lives, she mixes them [the offenders] up in her hair. The one she gets mad at, she hides in her hair."


"The spirit ska`yb is another famous supernatural being ... in a Stillaguamish village" : the spiritís owner (in Saanicb, BC) "stuck his feather in the rock .. . Then he set the rock on the edge of the basket and made it around the edge of the basket. ... He had a rope stretched across the house. He sent his basket across on a tight rope. The basket ran across the house on the rope."


"There was a giant spirit called kala`litabiqw who wore moss on his head. He was described as walking along, knocking over trees with his


walking stick. He could cross the Cascade Mountains in one step. It was he who carved out the trough of Puget Sound and placed the islands in the Sound. He lived in swampy places, where a person seeking him would go and fast. If a young person sought him and did not fast, kala`litabiqw ... drove him insane. This spirit appeared as fire moving up a tree. In order to obtain him, the seeker had to ... rush to the tree, and put his arms around it before the spirit could reach the top and leave the tree. Although the fire appeared to burn the tree, the wood would actually be unharmed."


"A spirit t>ku`ba, meaning "snow all around," was associated with the main peak of Mount Baker. This spirit is said to have supplied the berries which grew on the slopes of the mountain."

"Clouds were represented by the spirit s-q>a`l>q>a`l>eb. ...

Rain, sk>a`lbsk>alb, was also a spirit".


"Cedar had a spirit, xpa`yac."


"there was a spirit xu`>wa, specific for prophecy."


"an important group of spirits ... was s-gwedi`lic^, which enlivened objects. At least four different types of objects were listed ... as variants of s-gwedi`lic^ ... . These are as follows :

s-xpaya`xubiqw, boards of cedar;

t>eqt>eqa`cabiuqw, an object of maple boughs covered with


cedar bark in the shape of a twisted doughnut ...;

c^>a`ju>, painted ducks of cedar; and

k>wa`sted, goat hair."

"the kind of s-gwedi`lic^ called c^>a`ju> was ... that people who owned him could bring ducks down out of the air and ... his symbol {decoy} was a wooden duck." {Was k>wa`sted the spirit inhabiting a decoy for attracting mountain-goats (pronghorns)?}

"s-gwedi`lic^ is a powerful thing. He is all head and no body. He knows what people are thinking about. ... Some fellows dream about s-gwedi`lic^ and make it. If you just dream it, it is no good. If you find it living [as living trees] ... to help you, then it is powerful. {Would this imply that the dream is about where to find a specific tree whence may be carved a sacred wooden object (such dreams being well-known in Siberia)?} In ... woodworking, ... s-gwedi`lic^ is helpful in learning this craft."

[myth] "when first the world was made, s-gwedi`lic^ was the oldest of four brothers who first came this way. His two younger brothers were Knife and Fire. He also had a baby brother. ..


The oldest, s-gwedi`lic^, gave everything a name on the Skagit ... . After s-gwedi`lic^ had finished his job, he said, "Iím going to be here now, right in Skagit Falls ... Iím going to be power now." Brother Knife ... crossed the Cascades. ... Knife said, "Iím going to be right here; my job is done." ... Fire was the leader now. ... They taught ... Indians ... to grab red hot rocks and play with them. Their hands never burned because they had power. ... Fire was going to stay there. Next to Naches was the place where Fire stopped. Now just the Baby was left. ... The Indians ... started powwowing singing their song] they canít stop. The Indians burned pitch and threw it in the singerís face. This was the only way to wake them [bring them out of the spirit possession]. ... Where the youngest one stopped was the wi`s^eb [Wishram] tribe."


"c^>aju> ... were obtained during the guardian spirit quest by diving to the bottom of Big Lake where they lay on the bottom of the lake. ...

[myth about c^>aju>] "The young man woke up, made a paddle, and then went to sleep again. ... He lifted the paddle over his head and ducks [representatives of the spirit] came down. They took him way down low in the lake to their country. The little Indian stunk. ... When he returned ... He asked his mother, sk>u`tab, smallpox, for food." [on sk>u`tab, vide p. 169]


"You can hear s-gwedi`lic^ ... coming thousands of miles off. You can just hear your own. It sings as it comes. The s-gwedi`lic^ tells you things are going to happen before they do."


When "they find this vine maple s-gwedi`lic^ in the woods, these trees are alive [self-shaking]. This young fellow found it; he grabbed hold. This thing shook him, shook him until he went to sleep. He was sleeping when he heard this song. The song told him what to do with the s-gwedi`lic^. ...


This spirit was one of the most versatile. ... One of its most spectacular achievements was the finding of lost objects and persons."


"A similar type of spirit, ski`x.uls, livened two sticks. These were so designed that each had a head (s-x.e`yus) which was painted and a belly (>es-k>tu`>). ... If a man shook one of these sticks when the spirit was motivating it, the house would nearly shake."


"A fourth type, tu`sted, animated fir poles with a bag tied at one end."


"One kind of spirit, s-kayu`>, was ... in the form of a skeleton ... . ... Each "skeleton" spirit" was that of a specific dead person. ... One shaman who obtained this spirit sought


it by fasting and living alone in a graveyard. ... The identity of ... this spirit was made known by the behavior of the victim, who imitated characteristics of the owner of the spirit."


"Two spirits ... tubs^a`dad and s-x.i`dx.idtib ... were always described as coming from Canada ... . These spirits were obtained ... by being around the persons who had them or by "being worked on" by those who had them. The spirit tubs^a`dad ... During the year ... traveled by flying around the world. ... When the owner first fell sick with the return of this spirit, he would act like a "wild person." His strength increased until he could do feats he normally could not do. ...


When an owner first sand his tubs^a`dad song, he was sometimes held in a cedar bark harness ... for purposes of restraint. As he established control, he was allowed more freedom. ... Before the tubs^a`dad dancer began, an announcer went around the house warning the guests to move back from the [dancing-]floor. He did this because of the possibility that the tubs^a`dad might bite someone".


"The spirit s-x.i`dx.idtib was associated with dogs, although the name of the spirit was not the term for dog as was the spirit qweba`y> ... . ... .


... the two tore the dog limb from limb and devoured the dog ... . ... It the initiates had not been given this dog to eat, they would never have "waked up," that is they would remain always with the spirit of s-x.i`dx.idtib in them. The members of the society sang the s-x.i`dx.idtib song deep in their throats, growling as they did so."


[aequivalents to s-x.i`dx.idtib in other tribes] "they had s-x.i`dx.idtib "accorss from Seattle," ... at a Suquamish village.

... they had this spirit at Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. ... .

... the s-x.i`dx.idtib sounds like the x.enx.enitel>, meaning letrally "growling at each other," a secret society present among the Klallam, Songish, and ... may also be the same as the xunxanital described by Stern for the Lummi (1934:86)."


"A lay guardian spirit, sk>u`tab, the appeared. This spirit was in the form of a woman whose face was scarred with pustules. Standing outside this world in s-qla`litut land, she ... could cure smallpox".

AL:M = Antoninus Liberalis : Metamorphoses.

S:Ae = Servius : "On the Aeneid of Vergilius".

"E" = "Ecne"

FChT = The Fate of the Children of Turenn.

N:D = Nonnos : Dionusiaka.

A:B = Apollodoros : Bibliotheke.

"CJ" = "Calendar, Januarius"

Stern 1934 = B. J. Stern : The Lummi Indians ... . COLUMBIA U CONTRIBUTIONS TO ANTHROPOLOGY, vol. 17. NY.


AMERICAN ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY MONOGRAPH 56 = June McCormick Collins : Valley of the Spirits : the Upper Skagit Indians of Western Washington. U of WA Pr, Seattle, 1974.