Girl That Stayed With The Fish
This is the story of the girl that stayed with the fish. Some where there was a river that was clear. This is where this girl was staying with her parents. The king salmon came to this river. This girl came down to the river bank every morning and saw all these fish. She really wanted to go in it. So there on the bank, there were willows. She got hold of the willows and started down the bank but she slid in and she became one of the fish that was going up river to spawn.
When her parents woke up, she was gone. They did not know what happened to her. They looked for her in the woods and every where but she was not anywhere. So the parents began to wonder if some thing took her. The parents gave up hope of ever seeing her again.
This girl went up river where the king salmon spawn. She saw all the fish that had completed spawning. Some of them went back down river. She was one of them. She saw where she used to stay while on her way back to the ocean, and while in the ocean, she saw all kinds of fish, even the fish she never saw before. She saw many, many fish while she was out in the ocean.
It became fall, winter, and it got to be summer again. Time for the fish to go back to the stream. She kept swimming with the fish. Finally, the fish had a meeting to see which way they would go. And at the meeting, the fish talked about how the people along the river treated them. Some say they were treated badly. The people did not take care of them when they caught them like they did not even clean the poles where they dried their fish. These were the things they did not like. But there were other fish that said there were some villages to which they go to that treat them really good like cleaning the poles from last year’s catch, and getting them ready for use when they get to their village.
The meeting kept going on among the fish. Some agree that they will go to all the villages but some say they will only go when they are treated good. These meetings went on and on. It took place every year. Finally, it was the year that they would go back up the stream with the fish. “I will go with you back up the stream,” she told the other fish. “Back to where my home used to be, and to my parents.” She traveled with lots of fish. As she traveled with the fish, she came to where she came from her home, and as she swam by, she saw the place and came back out of the water. She became herself again, and walked back up the bank. Her parents did not expect to see her. They asked her, “Where have you been in the last four years?”
She replied, “One early morning while you were sleeping and I came down to the bank, I saw all those king salmon. I got hold of a willow to swing down to take a closer look. I fell in the river and became a king salmon. I went with them up to the stream where they spawn, and back to the ocean. I saw while in the ocean all kinds of fish. Even the ones that could eat fish but even those things that eat fish did not bother me. I don’t know why. This is how I came back.” she told her parents. And she also told them about how the fish had a meeting. How they liked to go only to some places.
This is the reason why the older people always get the poles ready before the fish come. They clean them and get other things ready. When there were a lot of fish, they would dig a hole in the ground and put them in there. They took them out after the river froze over. There used to be no moose over here long ago, so the people lived on caribou, fish, berries and also wild carrots.
(c) 1978 Personal Communications.