Legends of the Cowlitz Indian tribe merge with the history of Mount St. Helens.
The tragic triangle, or " love story of Loowit "
Depending on the version of the Cowlitz , Tah-one-lat-clah , "the mountain of fire", was inhabited by an old woman named Loowit . Long before the Europeans arrived , native tribes could cross the Columbia river on dry ground ... when these tribes became greedy and warlike , the Great Coyote took steps that eventually led to the destruction of the bridges. He shut down all domestic fires ... only maintained by Loowit fire continued to burn. His neighbors came in number seeking ways to rekindle their fire. The Great Spirit then asked Loowit what she wanted as a reward for his peaceful sharing. She shyly suggested its rejuvenation and beautification ... so it was done !
Accomplished his transformation , she inadvertently rekindled the fires of war , attracting the attention of two chefs, Pahtoe , ruling the north side of the Columbia river and Wyeast, leader of the Multnomah people south of the river. They fought for the favors of Loowit , destroying villages and forests. The Great Spirit separated the rivals by collapsing the "Bridge of the Gods" in the Columbia (created by the "Bonneville Slide" , a landslide consecutive an earthquake of M9)
According to legend of Cowlitz , the Great Spirit changed the protagonists of this love triangle into mountain : Wyeast became Mount Hood, Pahtoe became Mount adams , while the beautiful Loowit was personified by St. Helens.
(Note that this legend is a little different from that of the tribe Klickitats )
The Cowlitz tribe :
This small tribe living north of the Columbia river in houses made of wooden planks. At the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition , the Cowlitz were already in decline, which accelerated during the 19th century. An epidemic destroys a large part of the population , leaving only 500 Cowlitz . The population is slowly recovering and now has 1,400 heads living on their ancestral lands.
It is likely that their language has gone out , or mixed in with the neighbors. They were known for making baskets, decorated with geometric designs, made with bear grass , roots and cedar bark and horse hair, for picking fruits and berries. These baskets often repaired , passed from generation to generation .
The Cowlitz were recognized by the Federal Government only in 2000 , and are held to establish tribal lands in the state of Washington. A large Powwow is held every year to keep alive the tribal traditions.
On the left, the tragic triangle formed by three volcanoes - right , legends of the Cowlitz Indian tribe by Roy I. Wilson - click on the image to enlarge.
The poem "Loowit ":
Fabienne Ginner wrote a little poem entitled "Loowit" . In acrostic, found his other name , St Helens
- Native Culture - Mt St Helens Native American Tribe Folklore - link