Do you know the Squamish legends of the Stawamus Chief?
I was born and raised at the base of the St’á7mes Siyám Smánit. Living underneath it, we are in the shade for the majority of the day and it can be very windy and chilly at times.
For me, and many Squamish people, besides a mecca for climbing and hiking, the Stawamus Chief is a messenger.
When a rock falls from the Chief, for example, depending on the peak, it warns us, of who will come to pass — die.
The first peak; a child will soon pass on.
The second peak; an adult will soon pass on.
The third peak; an elder will soon
Now that you know, it will be hard not to pay attention.
There are also some ‘don’ts’ we follow when it comes to the Chief.
*Do not point at the Stawamus Chief. It brings bad luck upon you.
Our teaching tells us when you point, you are pointing one finger and you have three fingers pointing back at yourself.
*Do not climb on the “Witch.” The witch’s name is Kálklilh, which translates to “giant cannibal woman.” Legend has it, during the mystical times, giants were real and they took up residence here in Skwxwúmesh territory.
Kálklilh had roamed the lands after sunset and before sunrise. Everyone was told to stay indoors after sunset, or Kálklilh would take you. A group that was caught, was able to cut a hole out of the bottom of the basket and escape. Everyone ran home and they were able
to tell the medicine men where Kálklilh was living.
A handful of medicine men got together and used their power within and cast the witch into the granite of the Stawamus Chief, where she could do no more harm to the Squamish people and surrounding tribes.
The big white spot on the third peak is Kálklilh. She is her actual size. She was captured and appears as she was the moment she was caught.
Everyone sees her in the rock, but not many people know that it is actually her. She is not a stereotype of “witch.” She is surprised and caught in the moment of looking over her shoulder. Kálklilh carries her basket while wearing long clothes.
Everyone who has learned these local legends may tell them somewhat differently. This is my understanding of them.