Story of the Salmon as shared by bear Medicinewalker

A young girl, who was daughter to the chief sat crying. She cried because no one could give her what she wanted, a great shining fish. Neither her father, nor the wisest elders of the clan could give her the great shining fish, none of them had ever even seen such a fish. As his daughter continued to cry they soon discovered that she was making herself very ill, and soon because of it, the chief ordered a great council fire to be gathered.

All of the tribal elders and medicine people sat around the fire as the most respected of them began to speak. “The child cries for a thing which she has seen in her dream walks. Many fish have we in our great waters, but none resemble the one of which she speaks. This fish may prove to be good medicine for our tribe that is being sent by our Creator. He looked at those gathered around the fire, “Perhaps one of you may know where such a great gleaming strong fish with such medicine may be found.”

Only one of them stood turning to address his Chief and the council,”The Raven, who lives among the cedars, is my good friend. She is very wise and knows many things that the wisest among us know not. Allow me to return with her to this Council Fire, in order for her to share her wisdoms.”
They all agreed to this and the chief gave his permission. Soon the warrior gathered his things and traveled to the cedars to find his wise friend. Raven seated on his shoulder began to speak, but only the ones of true medicine could follow her words. “What the girl is asking for is the giant fish, known as Salmon. In this full moon, they can be found far from here at the mouth of a mighty river, which flows into the other side of the lakes here.. Because those of your clan are considered friends, I will fly swift and far to gather one of these fish and return it to your village.”

Before the counsel could thank her, the Raven was high in the air flying far and fast until her keen eyes saw far beneath her, many Salmon swimming together at the mouth of the river. The Raven dived quick as a hawk and, by chance caught the little son of the Salmon Chief in his talons. Rising high in the air, with the fish held firmly in her claws, the Raven flew toward the distant village of her friends.
Salmon Scouts that were leaping high from the water in great flashing arcs, saw the direction that the Raven was flying. A school of Salmon, led by their chief soon began to swim rapidly in pursuit. As quickly as the fish swam, the fast-flying raven reached the village far ahead of them where Raven placed the great fish before the little daughter of the chief, she smiled, and cried no more.

Then the Raven told the clan that many Salmon would be sure to swim into the river to the village in pursuit, to try and rescue the young Salmon which he had caught. They all decided to have the people of the clan to weave a huge net. This they did quickly so that when the Salmon came, all of the fish were caught in it. To hold them prisoner, a long, strong leather thong was passed through their gills. One end of the thong was tied to a big rock and the other end was fastened to this great totem pole, which then grew as a tall cedar.

Ever since, it has been called the ‘Nhe-is-bik’, or tethering pole. On this pole – a totem pole – there was carved a mighty Thunderbird, an Indian Chief, a Raven and a Salmon, carved in that order from the top of the great cedar pole. Year after year, from that time, the Salmon have passed on that side of the river and continue to this day. They are held as sacred with the people and the story continues to be shared.

Mitakuye O’yasin
~ bear Medicinewalker

Imago written and performed by Joseph Strider, more information on this and more of Joe’s music available at