The Origin of the Eagle Clan
The Origin of the Eagle Clan
The Chief of a great village was becoming aged. His nephew was to become his successor. This young man was well respected throughout the village, not only because he was to be the next Chief, but also because he possessed great skill as a hunter and fisherman. One day he set out in his canoe to catch some halibut for that evening’s meal. While he was far out to sea a sudden storm rose up, and he was tossed about by the wind and current for many days. Eventually, he was beached high and dry on a small island; no other land was in sight. He was barely able to drag himself up to the shelter of a few trees. Once there he fell asleep, for he had been many days without food and was very weak. As he slept, the tide came up and washed the canoe away, leaving him no way of escape.
He was found there by a young woman. She was the daughter of a great Chief and she said, “Come with me to my father’s house.” They had not gone far when they came upon a large village. The young man noticed a great many Eagles flying around. This was the Eagles’ village, and the girl was the daughter of the Chief of all Eagles. After she restored the boy to good health, she presented him to her father, saying, “Father, I have found a nice husband.” The great Chief was pleased to have such a nice son-in-law, and adorned him with a garment made of feathers. When the Eagle garment was placed on the boy, he at once became a different being. He could fly far up into the sky, and travel long distances.
Each day after that he would go out to sea to capture salmon swimming close to the surface, and every day he would come back with something. One day when he saw a seal in the water he swooped down, and after a struggle, was able to return with it to the island. Not long after that he did the same with a sea lion. This was the first time that a lone eagle had ever accomplished such feats.
While he was away on these hunting trips, his wife would transform into an eagle and sit atop a tall tree waiting for his return. He did not realize that she was the source of his supernatural powers. One morning when he looked out, he saw a whale, and decided to try to capture it. He grasped the whale with his talons and he was powerful enough that he lifted it from the sea and flew to shore with it. His father-in-law was so pleased with this that he gave a great feast in his honor. He invited all his fellow supernatural beings to it. When all had feasted, the Eagle Chief said in parting, “You all know my son-in-law now. When you see him in your parts, safeguard him!” Thus, they all knew that this young man had become great among the Eagles.
One day, the young Eagle prince felt lonesome for his home village, and wished to once again be with his own people. His wife saw his sadness and said, “Cheer your heart! You will have your wish.” So they set out to find his home village. After flying a very long while, the young man saw familiar mountain peaks ahead and knew they would arrive at his uncle’s village before night.
They landed near the village just before dark. They removed their Eagle garments and entered the village. Many recognized the young man who they had mourned as dead. Some were afraid that this was a ghost, and ran away at his approach. The Eagle prince and his wife went directly to the Chief’s house and related all that had happened. He was welcomed back, and resumed his former place in his uncle’s household. Every day he would put on his Eagle garment and fly to distant places, returning with food and gifts, until his uncle’s house was filled to capacity with wealth. In the course of time, the Eagle prince became the head Chief of the village, and shared his wealth with all the people.
As long as he remained Chief, he continued to provide salmon, halibut, seals, sea lions, and whales for his village. He always made sure the Eagle was given the honor it was due, and he also gave a special place of honor for his wife, who saved his life, and whose supernatural power helped him to become wealthier each year.
He lived a very long time, and remained a great Chief until he died.