KeKaiax (Wildman) Makes Salmon Jump Ashore¹

KeKaiax stomped across the sandy, shell-strewn shores of the beach. In the clear bay water, he witnessed some salmon flipping in and out of the bay. His stomach rumbled like thunder. His eyes brightened as an idea came to him. He called out, “If I were a spring salmon I would go toward the sound of rumbling thunder.” The salmon flipped closer to the shore. His stomach grumbled louder. He called out, “If I were a spring salmon, I would go even closer to the sound of rumbling thunder.” The salmon flipped through the air, onto shore and into KeKaiax’s large, hairy hands.

KeKaiax placed the fat salmon over the fire, his stomach still rumbling. As he waited for the salmon to cook, his eyelids grew heavy, and he fell asleep by the warm fire. Kʷə́yŋsən ²   soared over the clear bay, looking for salmon, but they’d been scared away when KeKaiax took their brother. Hungry, he sniffed the air. The smell of dripping salmon oil and wood smoke lured him to the beach. There, he saw KeKaiax fast asleep by a roasting salmon. Kʷə́yŋsən flew to shore and carefully tugged the salmon off the stick above the fire. He quietly gobbled up the entire fish. When he was done, he rubbed the grease from his claws over KeKaiax’s hairy hands and placed delicate salmon bones between the wild man’s teeth, then soundlessly flew away with a full belly.

When KeKaiax woke, he could taste the salmon already. He eagerly sat up to take the salmon from the fire, realizing it had already been removed. He grunted and picked a thin bone from his tooth. His fingers tasted of salmon oil.  I must have eaten the salmon in my sleep , KeKaix thought, though his stomach rumbled like thunder, still. Kʷə́yŋsən laughed from above.

¹ Gunther, Erna.  Klallam Folk Tales . 140-141, 161. Based on Mrs. Robbie Davis, Sagen Boas and Joe Samson tellings.

²  Eagle