The Indians who live on the farthest point of the northwest
corner of Washington State used to tell stories, not about one
Changer, but about the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things. So did their
close relatives, who lived on Vancouver Island, across the Strait
of Juan de Fuca.
When the world was very young, there were no people on the earth.
There were no birds or animals, either. There was nothing but
grass and sand and creatures that were neither animals nor people
but had some of the traits of people and some of the traits of
Then the two brothers of the Sun and the Moon came to the earth.
Their names were Ho-ho-e-ap-bess, which means "The Two-Men-Who-
Changed-Things." They came to make the earth ready for a new race
of people, the Indians. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called all
the creatures to them. Some they changed to animals and birds.
Some they changed to trees and smaller plants.
Among them was a bad thief. He was always stealing food from
creatures who were fishermen and hunters. The Two-Men-Who-
Changed-Things transformed him into Seal. They shortened his arms
and tied his legs so that only his feet could move. Then they
threw Seal into the Ocean and said to him, "Now you will have to
catch your own fish if you are to have anything to eat."
One of the creatures was a great fisherman. He was always on the
rocks or was wading with his long fishing spear. He kept it ready
to thrust into some fish. He always wore a little cape, round and
white over his shoulders. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things
transformed him into Great Blue Heron. The cape became the white
feathers around the neck of Great Blue Heron. The long fishing
spear became his sharp pointed bill.
Another creature was both a fisherman and a thief. He had stolen
a necklace of shells. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed
him into Kingfisher. The necklace of shells was turned into a
ring of feathers around Kingfisher's neck. He is still a
fisherman. He watches the water, and when he sees a fish, he
dives headfirst with a splash into the water.
Two creatures had huge appetites. They devoured everything they
could find. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed one of
them into Raven. They transformed his wife into Crow. Both Raven
and Crow were given strong beaks so that they could tear their
food. Raven croaks "Cr-r-ruck!" and Crow answers with a loud
The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called Bluejay's son to them and
asked, "Which do you wish to be--a bird or a fish?"
"I don't want to be either," he answered.
"Then we will transform you into Mink. You will live on land. You
will eat the fish you can catch from the water or can pick up on
the shore. "
Then the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things remembered that the new
people would need wood for many things.
They called one of the creatures to them and said "The Indians
will want tough wood to make bows with. They will want tough wood
to make wedges with, so that they can split logs. You are tough
and strong. We will change you into the yew tree."
They called some little creatures to them. "The new people will
need many slender, straight shoots for arrows. You will be the
arrowwood. You will be white with many blossoms in early summer."
They called a big, fat creature to them. "The Indians will need
big trunks with soft wood so that they can make canoes. You will
be the cedar trees. The Indians will make many things from your
bark and from your roots."
The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things knew that the Indians would need
wood for fuel. So they called an old creature to them. "You are
old, and your heart is dry. You will make good kindling, for your
grease has turned hard and will make pitch. You will be the
spruce tree. When you grow old, you will always make dry wood
that will be good for fires."
To another creature they said, "You shall be the hemlock. Your
bark will be good for tanning hides. Your branches will be used
in the sweat lodges."
A creature with a cross temper they changed into a crab apple
tree, saying, "You shall always bear sour fruit."
Another creature they changed into the wild cherry tree, so that
the new people would have fruit and could use the cherry bark for
A thin, tough creature they changed into the alder tree, so that
the new people would have hard wood for their canoe paddles.
Thus the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things got the world ready for the
new people who were to come. They made the world as it was when the Indians lived in it.
Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Compiled by: Glenn Welker
Copyright @ 1993-2016
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