Myths & Legends



Coast Salish: Further Adventures of Eut-Le-Ten

Eut-Le-Ten is a supernatural being, a superhero of sorts. In the adventures that follow Eut-Le-Ten proves his prowess.

These legends of Eut-Le-Ten are found in Indian Legends of Vancouver Island (Canada), a fascinating collection of stories about the customs and habits of the West Coast Indians of Vancouver Island. Little is known of its editor Alfred Carmichael.
— Orly


Some time passed by, and Eut-le-ten conceived a plan to reach the land above the sky, which he believed, like all the Indian race, to be the roof of this our world, and hiding from our view the Illahie where the great chief--the Sagh-al-lie Tyee, Nas-nas-shup, the chief of all the chiefs abode. Nas-nas-shup had a daughter, far famed for her exceeding beauty, and the tales of her attractions were often related among the younger braves, and Eut-le-ten became enamoured of the thought of winning her, although the stories also told of dangers and death most terrible to him who strove to undergo the tests the old chief set for all who would desire his daughter's love.

Now Eut-le-ten was skillful with the bow, for many times he had brought down the deer as they were bounding through the forest glade, and with his arrow he had often pierced the silver salmon when they jumped from out the rushing waters of his native stream, and he had shot down from off the tallest tree, golden eagles or the great fish hawk.

Eut-le-ten called the men together, for he was highly favoured in his tribe, and counted as a chief because he killed the evil chehah, dread E-ish-so-oolth, and he directed them to make a multitude of arrows, straight and strong, and have them ready by a day he named to them. Forthwith they followed his instructions, and fashioned many arrows, long and straight and strong, and each one tipped with bone or flint, so sharp that it would pierce the thickest hide of the great elk which roamed in bands among the hills and in the open lands.

The arrows were completed in four suns, when Eut-le-ten went out upon the beach taking with him his strongest bow of yew, and shot an arrow straight above his head, high into the vault of heaven, far out of sight. Again he shot, and again, until at last an arrow line was formed from the earth beneath to heaven above, for his first shaft had fixed itself into the roof of this old world of ours, and the second arrow aimed with such great skill, had caught the end of it. The third, the fourth, and each succeeding one had attached itself, until a rope of shafts was made, for Eut-le-ten to climb into the world above--the Illahie, where Nas-nas-shup, the Sagh-al-lie Tyee, the chief of chiefs, and his fair daughter dwelt.

Then Eut-le-ten took leave of all the tribe and climbed the rope of arrows to the sky, beyond the peoples' sight, until at last he reached the portals of the land above.



First, Eut-le-ten saw two blind and ancient squaws preparing simple food for their repast, and when it was all ready they began to help each other to the food, not hearing Eut-le-ten who quietly watched until impelled by thoughts of mischief or of jest, took the food away from them.

Soon each old squaw accused the other of taking all the food and giving none, and angrily they talked and quarrelled much, each upbraiding the other for a misdeed of which neither was guilty, while Eut-le-ten stood by enjoying their discomfiture. Presently he spoke however, and at the sound of his young voice they stopped their noise, and ceased to wrangle more about the food. Instead they asked him to tell from whence he came, and who he was, and what had brought him there.

"I am a being from the lower world, and I have come to ask from Nas-nas-shup, the love of one, of whose great charms long tales are told among the young men of the world below." Thus Eut-le-ten answered the questions put by the old squaws, and when they heard his words, they were alarmed, and warned him to desist from his bold quest which was full of peril, as many men had found before, for none had yet returned who dared essay to win the daughter of Nas-nas-shup. Eut-le-ten would not be turned away from his resolve by any craven fear of perils or of dire calamity. Had he not killed the witch E-ish-so-oolth, and also her much dreaded chehah man? But before he left to go upon his quest, he asked the aged squaws what he could do to make amends for playing tricks at their expense.

"Oh stranger, give us sight, that we may see," they said, "for we have long been blind."

Eut-le-ten then bored a little hole into each eye of both the ancient squaws, and when they saw the pure white light of day after their long darkness, they were overjoyed, and thanking Eut-le-ten, they told to him the secrets of the house of Nas-nas-shup. They gave him charms to overcome the fire, in which he would be made to stand alone, and last, a stone of wondrous power to break the spikes which were set round the resting place of her he sought to win.



Before the house of Nas-nas-shup there was a lake in which there lived great demon frogs, which croaked loud warnings when any dared approach. Inside the outer door a codfish lay, of size enormous, ready to devour the bold intruder who might gain entrance there, and if the stranger safely passed the cod, his body would be entered by two snakes which waiting, sought to kill the fearless one. All these were safely passed by Eut-le-ten, who changed himself, when danger pressed too close, to that small primal pool of tears from which he sprang.

Within the house he saw chief Nas-nas-shup clothed in his robe of prime sea otter skins. He also saw the spikes which surrounded the sacred place where lay the daughter of the chief.

The spikes were hidden in the ground, just where a stranger would be asked to rest awhile, but Eut-le-ten remembered what the old squaws said to him, and taking the stone charm he broke them down. The chief was astonished to see the power of Eut-le-ten, and forthwith asked of him from whence he came and what his errand was.

Then Eut-le-ten declared himself and said, "I come from that great world beneath the sky where many people live who do not know the land where dwells the Tyee Nas-nas-shup. I come to see the wonders of his lodge, and learn the many secrets hid from man, so that returning to my home below, I may be able so to teach the tribes, that many things of which they do not dream, may be revealed, and made as plain as day. But there is one of whom great tales are told among the young men of the world below, it is of her that I would speak to thee. Thy daughter, chief, I come to ask of thee, to be the mother of my little ones."



Then Nas-nas-shup gathered many sticks of wood and built a fire so blazing hot that none could bear the heat, and turned to Eut-le-ten, "Stand in the fire that I may see if you are brave and strong enough to be worthy of her, my daughter."

So Eut-le-ten stood within the fire, and with the charms provided him by the old squaws, reduced the heat, and came thereout alive and none the worse.

Now Nas-nas-shup proposed that they should seek some firewood upon the steep hill-side close by. Eut-le-ten consented, and next morning they went to gather firewood. While thus engaged Nas-nas-shup rolled a giant log down the steep hill toward Eut-le-ten, who never moved or sought to escape. The log rolled over him, but once again he turned into the pool of tears and sprang to life when danger passed away. Thereat the chief became convinced that he was more than mortal man, and gave his leave.

Thus Eut-le-ten was wed, and lived sometime within the higher realms, until one day he thought to visit those he left below. Then down the rope of arrow shafts he climbed, until he found himself upon the earth among his people, and to them he told wonderful things of the world above.



The sun and moon emerge from out the house of Nas-nas-shup. The giant codfish guarding the entrance to the house, attempts to catch them passing. He often fails, but there are times when he succeeds, then there is darkness--an eclipse of the sun or moon the white men say, but that is false, it is the cod. The many stars which sparkle in the skies are Indians, who dwell above the earth. Such things and many more were told by him, and Eut-le-ten was counted as a chief more learned than any that had ever been.




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