One Elwha man was a weakling. None of the younger people would play with him, so he went to look for a spirit. He went all over looking for a spirit. Up the canal and over to Hoko. All over the mountains and he didn’t get anything.
Up by the Little River, he was following the creek and pretty soon he heard something splashing ahead of him. He searched, sneaking over to look down at the creek. He was getting closer to the splashing and he finally could see that person bathing, with a great big limb which he was using for his brush, scraping his body.
The Indian watched it for awhile, wondering . . . that person was just white. He looked down the edge of the creek there and saw something, clothing or fur. He looked at it and he looked at the person and then he saw that the person wasn’t a human being. So he sneaked a little bit farther until he got above that pile of fur.
That person was busy bathing and didn’t notice this Indian up above there. That Indian jumped down and landed on
Bear Story sčkʷáy̕əč continued . . .
Illustration by Laurel Black
that pile. It was that thing’s clothes. It was a hide and when that Indian landed on that, the one that was bathing, he was shying away. He made signs with his fingers. He signed that he would give that Indian whatever he wanted. Then he took and bent one little finger and then he went to the second one, and finally the Indian said, “Okay.”
That person that was bathing took something, must have been soap or something. He took it and threw it.
So the Indian got off that thing’s clothes and walked back away. Then that thing started coming towards his clothes. When that person got to the pile, in the twinkling of an eye, he just kind of shook himself and he turned into a bear SČKʷÁY̕ƏČ. It was a bear SČKʷÁY̕ƏČ bathing in there, not a human being. That was the spirit the Indian received. He became the strongest man on the whole peninsula.