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Kwatee


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America

Or Kivati. The changer or trickster god of the Indian tribes resident in the Puget Sound region of Washington. It was Kwatee, ‘the-man-who-changed-things’, and his mythical assistants who transformed the ancient world into the world which we know today. Originally the colossal animal people, like Spider, Ant, Beaver, Fox, and Coyote, owned the land and there were no human beings. But Kwatee, the Quinault Indians say, ‘went up and down the country changing things … as he was getting the world ready for the new people who were to come’.

When the giant animal people tried to stop his activities, Kwatee made ordinary animals out of them. One would-be assassin became the deer, another the beaver. Then Kwatee rubbed his hands over his own body until he made little balls of dirt and sweat. These he changed into people, the first Indians. On his wanderings he created other people from dogs and showed them how to use stones as mallets and cutting tools. More heroic was the killing of the monster living in Lake Quinault. When the cavernous throat of this beast opened to swallow Kwatee's brother and his canoe, the changer god tossed hot rocks into the lake. The water boiled and the monster rose to the surface, dead. Slitting the monster's stomach he released his brother, who had changed into the father of hermit crabs.

Old and tired at last, Kwatee reviewed his work of transformation and perceived that he had made all the changes he could make to help mankind. He sat on a rock, watching the sun disappear over the western rim of the ocean, and after the sunset he pulled a blanket over his face, thereby turning himself into stone.

Subjects: Religion.


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