Myths & Legends



Pacific Coast: The Destruction of Ogre

Pacific Coast: The Destruction of Ogre

The Haida, sometimes spelled Hydah, are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their main territory is the archipelago of Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) in northern British Columbia, Canada but a group known as the Kaigani Haida live across the Dixon Entrance on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

In British Columbia, the term “Haida Nation” refers both to the people as a whole and their government, the Council of the Haida Nation. The Kaigani are part of the Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska government. The Haida language has sometimes been classified as one of the Na-Dene group.

An ogre (feminine ogress) is a legendary monster usually depicted as a large, hideous, manlike being that eats ordinary human beings, especially infants and children. Ogres frequently feature in mythology, folklore, and fiction throughout the world.

This version of the Haida Ogre fits the patterns of the scary monster to instill fear in children.
— Orly

The Ogre was at work cleaving a fallen tree, using wedges formed from the hardest, toughest wood the Indians know. It was the Kla-to-mupt, the western yew. With mighty blows of his stone hammer, he sunk a wedge deep in the log, rending it open, split to the centre of its giant heart.

The thunderous blows were heard by Eut-le-ten, who with fine courage followed up the sound, until he came in view of where the huge man worked with all his might.

Blow upon blow fell upon the wedge, deeper it sank into the log. The split grew wider. The sides of the great rent pressed hard upon the wedge, so hard that if the wedge were hit a glancing blow, it would fly out.

Thus it was, when the Ogre saw the wonder boy approach, and his great frame was filled with rage, because the boy betrayed no fear of him, that his dark face lit up as with a flame.

Taking his sledge of stone he struck a blow, as if upon the wedge, but let it drop; deep in the crack it fell far out of reach.

"Come here my boy," he called, "I crave your help, I have lost my hammer within this mighty tree, I cannot reach it, so, jump in and get it, for I want it back."

Eut-le-ten climbed upon the log, and dropt within the split as he was bid; the Ogre gave the wedge a sudden jog and out it sprang, and the sides came together like the jaws of some great trap.

"Ha! Ha!" the Ogre cried, "Oh! what a joke! with but a single stroke I have ground him small. E-ish-so-oolth that gentle little fey, will dine on mince-meat."

The ugly Ogre made his clumsy jest, little knowing of the fate his spouse had met, when suddenly he saw upon the ground before him, an awesome thing, a little pool of water from which there came a quite unearthly sound. Then from the pool, with fear and awe, the Ogre saw brave Eut-le-ten uprise. Nothing could lay low this boy of wondrous parts, who could resolve himself to mother earth, and from the primal pool of tears arise to save the helpless and destroy their foes.

"Most wondrous boy, I feared that when the wedge slipt out you died; instead, my heart is filled with joy to see you live when I had thought you killed. Tell me from whence you draw your mystic power, and I will seek the place this very day. When I have found it out, I will repay you in ways more certain than I can now command."

Thus spake the ogre, and Eut-le-ten replied, "'Tis easy done. This gift is yours as well as mine. Test it but once, and you will see that you have powers as great as I."

The giant's bulky frame was filled with pride. "You're right," he swore, "the thing that you can do, by all the Tyee salmon, so can I."

Once more the wedge was driven to the heart, until again the sides were spread a-gape. In climbed the giant,--he did not think the fit would be so tight.

"Are you all ready?" Eut-le-ten called out.

"Yes!" roared the giant, with a thunderous shout.

"Die then!" cried Eut-le-ten, as he took the hammer up, and struck upon the side the great yew wedge. Out sprung the wedge, the sides snapped together, crushing within the ogre's ponderous frame.

Ignoring his wild shouts they crunched to powder all his giant bones.

The ogre and his mate were thus destroyed, and never more have children been led astray by E-ish-so-oolth's dread and magic craft, to suffer death in ways too sad to tell.



Then to the lodge sped brave Eut-le-ten to that great lodge of giant cedar logs, the home of the dead witch E-ish-so-oolth. The house was dark, for only through the door and the great smoke hole in the roof, did the pale light find its dim way. It was gloomy, and for the full time it takes a man to wake from a deep sleep, Eut-le-ten saw nothing but just the darkness of a moonless night, then slowly as if the day was dawning, objects were seen within the hall. In the centre was a smouldering fire, and in the hot ashes, some heated stones with which to boil the water in the wooden box in which the food was cooked. There beside the wooden box he saw two little forms, prepared by that old witch to satisfy her cruel appetite, and that of her bad chehah man. Then Eut-le-ten was very sad indeed, to think that he had come too late to save the little girls from such an awful fate, and as he looked and moaned within himself believing that his sister lay there dead, he heard a sound which seemed to come from the further end of the dark lodge, and turning round he saw some children imprisoned in a wicker cage. Then he spoke and told them to be brave, that he had come to save them from the witch; but they were frightened at the very sound of his strange voice, and cried aloud with fear. Eut-le-ten whispered softly, and with grease from the great whale he rubbed their eyes free from the pitch with which E-ish-so-oolth had closed them. Afterward he told them that his name was Eut-le-ten, who had killed E-ish-so-oolth, and how he had crushed the ogre within the log.

The frightened children were much comforted and followed Eut-le-ten from out of the lodge away from the dark house of E-ish-so-oolth into the sunlit woods, along the trail which led for many miles to the small bay. Then there was much rejoicing in the homes of all the children saved by Eut-le-ten, and joy unspeakable in his own lodge, when he gently led to his sorrowing mother the little sister, safe from the clutches of E-ish-so-oolth.

Then all the tribe did honor to Eut-le-ten. He was found in the councils of the chiefs, and tribes with homes on distant shores heard the great news--the news of how this wonder boy had killed the ogre and his dreaded wife, E-ish-so-oolth.




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