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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

The Loon

The Indians in the Pacific Northwest traveled mainly by water, because the forest was so thick it was difficult to travel by land. This story tells how they were able to find their way back to shore.

One day, a little girl went deep into the forest. She walked until she found a family of loons. She stopped and played with the loons. In fact, she stayed for several days, becoming good friends with the loons. They taught her many things. But, soon, she knew it was time to return to her family, so she said good bye and returned to her village.

In time, this little girl grew to be a Mother and then Grandmother. One day she was out in a canoe with her two Grandchildren. All of the sudden the fog rolled in. They couldn't see the shore. They heard a splashing off in the distance. The children thought it was a sea monster. But, the Grandmother new it was something far worse. It was hunters from a tribe farther north. If they captured them, they would take them as slaves. The children would never see their family or village again.

The Grandmother told the children to get down in the canoe and be quiet. The other canoe passed by them with out seeing them. The children were still hiding in the bottom of the canoe. But, how would they find their way back to the village? How would they avoid the hunters in the other canoe? The Grandmother started to sing. This was a strange song. The Grandmother sung often, and the children new all of her songs. They thought. The children looked up. Where their Grandmother had been sitting, there was a giant loon. It spread its wings and flew out of the canoe. It circled the canoe and then flew off. The children watched it fly off into the fog. Soon, the loon returned and circled again. When it left, this time, the children followed it. It lead them safely back to their village. For you see, only the loon has eyes that can see though the fog.

When the Grandmother was a girl, playing with the loons, they thought her a song. If she ever sang that song, she would change into a loon FOREVER. So when the Indians were canoing in the fog, they always listen for Grandmother loon to guide them back to shore.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.