At Rocky Reach Dam during the 2005 Salmon Days celebration we showed the 160 Wenatchee Valley third-graders the Indian Way by arranging their seats in a circle to show that no one is above another.
I told them this talk is about the Peshastin Pinnacles but that I was going to talk mostly about Salmon going up the Columbia River.
One day Grandfather or Creator-God, which is How-we-yen-chuten in the Wenatchee language, discovered that the Indians upstream were starving because the Salmon weren’t reaching them.
How many of you like Salmon? Good. That means you’re smart because it is good brain food.
As was Grandfather’s custom, He delegated Coyote to do the investigation. Although Coyote was a maverick, He liked him because he thought outside the box.
So Coyote visited the Warm Springs, Yakima, Umatilla, and Nez Perce tribes and found that they caught only what they could use and shared with one another. That’s a key word Say S..H..A..R..E. Good. Remember it.
Finally Coyote came to where the Wenatchee River meets the Columbia. There were no fish going upstream from there. To find out why he sat on top of a cliff and watched the Wenatchee Indians. Everyone was catching and sharing except four sisters who were mavericks.
The sisters built a large holding pond and caught all the Salmon heading upstream. Most of the Salmon went to waste. They caught them so they could say “I have many Salmon and I am rich.” Some people today collect money, big cars, and expensive houses for the same reason.
Since Coyote was known as a trickster he changed into a cute little baby that the sisters couldn’t resist. They adopted him and kept him in a baby board. While they slept the baby changed back into Coyote and let the Salmon out of the holding pond.
For a long time they didn’t notice but then the youngest sister — How many of you are the youngest? Well you are smart like the sister who stayed awake and watched Coyote do his thing. She told her sisters what happened and they waited until Coyote became a baby and killed him.
Is that the end of the story? No, you’re right it isn’t.
Coyote’s brother, Fox, had the special power to bring Coyote back to life by stepping over him three times. Fox always knew when Coyote was in trouble so he came and said, “Not again Coyote. I’m always saving you!”
Coyote yawned and said, “That was sure a good nap!”
Fox said, “You weren’t sleeping, you were killed”.
While they were arguing the sisters came and started chasing Coyote up and down the rock cliffs. But they couldn’t catch him because he ran all the time and they just sat around watching their fish. So they took turns and ran in relays. They were still running when winter came early with help from Grandfather. The sisters were wringing wet with sweat so when the temperature dropped they were frozen in place.
That place is called the Peshastin Pinnacles. The Four Sister monument reminds us of what? Say the magic word.
That’s right “SHARE”!
Now every time you go by the Peshastin Pinnacles think of how you can share with others.
The complete story is in “Coyote Finishes the People” published in 2012.
Wendell George writes Go-la’-ka Wa-wal-sh (Raven Speaks). His email address is email@example.com. His books are at local stores, the tribal museum and Amazon.