How much of the local Skwxwú7mesh legend of the two-headed serpent do you know?
Every legend has a core story. Every family may tell it a bit differently. This is the story I was told.
Many moons ago, during mystical times, there roamed a giant two-headed serpent.
One day, the Chief of the local village went to his son and said, “Son. You must go kill the giant serpent that is terrifying our lands.”
The Chief’s son said: “I just got married today. I don’t want to go. Why can’t someone else go?”
Chief replied: “I have asked you, son. This is the duty to your people. Do not come back until your mission is complete.”
We never question elders or parents and always do what is asked of us.
The Chief’s son packed, told his new wife, “I have to leave. I will be back.”
She whined but stayed behind.
The Chief’s son traveled, all over the Squamish territory, tracking and searching for the home of the two-headed serpent.
Days went by, weeks went by, months went by.
The Chief’s son began to feel it was hopeless.
One night, as the Chief’s son, slept, the two-headed serpent visited him in his dream.
“I know you are here to kill me. I am here to tell you how,” the two-headed serpent said in the dream.
The Chief’s son woke up and knew how to kill the serpent and how to take the power that the serpent holds.
The Chief’s son caught up to the two-head serpent. He got the first spear in the back of one head. Running as fast as he could, he got his second spear in the back of the second head. As he did, he saw the power rising out of the head. The Chief’s son had grabbed the power and absorbed it.
The two-headed serpent was dead. His mission was over and he could return to his village.
Two years had passed. When he returned, he found his wife with another man.
The Chief’s son was so furious, he unknowingly reached in and released the serpent power, with a painful cry. Everyone in the village died from the release of the serpent power. He was in such a rage, he had no control of the power he had. That is the end of the legend.
This legend helps mothers and teachers know where their pupil is at.
When a mother or teacher tells this story. They ask for feedback.
Some listeners will be upset that everyone was killed. Some will think the serpent won in the end. Some will think, ‘Why did his father ask on his wedding day?’
No answer is wrong.
The legend reminds us that everyone holds a two-headed serpent inside them. One good, one bad. Which one do you release?
Chelachatanat is a Squamish Nation writer and Squamish resident.