Yahk Provincial Park

Photo from CampScout.com

Today I though I’d share another Native American tale, although this one has nothing to do with harvest or corn. It’s instead about two very smart girls, “The Lytton Girls Who Were Stolen by Giants.” The story is from the Salishan People, who lived on the plateau between the Coast Range and the Rocky Mountains in the northwest US and southwest Canada.

Two girls, whose family were camped with other on the hills near Lytton, were playing far away from camp, even though their father had warned them multiple times that giants lived in the area. As expected, two giants saw the girls playing, grabbed them, and carried them off to their house on an island in the middle of a river far away. The giants were nice to the girls and fed them.

The girls lived with the giants for four years, until one summer when the giants took them to a place where a lot of huckleberries grew. The giants knew the girls loved huckleberries. The giants left them there and went hunting, the older sister recognized that the spot was not far from their people’s home, so they ran away.

When the giants returned and saw the girls were gone, they followed the girls’ tracks. When the girls saw them catching up, they climbed to the top of a spruce tree and tied themsleves to the tree, so even though the giants looked up in the tree and shook, they did not find the girls. finally the giants left and the girls could continue their journy.

The giants were still searching for the girls, however, and came across their tracks again. This time, the girls hid in a hollow log and closed the openings with bransches they tied together, so the giants could not see into the log, and the log was too heavy to pick up and shake. Eventually, the giants gave up and left.

The girls ran on, living on berries and grouse,  and made it to their people’s hunting camp in the mountains wearing worout moccasins and torn clothing. They told the people all about the giants and even knew their names.

Once again, intelligence beats brute strength and the smaller, weaker wins against the bigger and stronger. I love stories like that. The end, when the girls tell the giants’ names is important too. Like in Rumpelstiltskin, knowing something’s name suggests having power over it.

I read this story in Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World edited by Kathleen Ragan, one of my favorite books. I have to thank my daughter for letting me borrow it.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.