The construction of Whattlekainum
Whattlekainum- Where did we get our name?
This story was related by a hereditary chief of the Cowichan First Nation. He had heard it from the people of the village of Kikait when Simon Fraser was exploring the Fraser river region in the early 1800’s . Kikait was located across from New Westminster on the what is now referred to as the Fraser River. This appears in the words of Staquisit from the story “Simon Fraser, Chief of the ‘Sky People’” Indian Legends of Canada, by E.E. Clark.
“I was there when Simon Fraser came. All the people were so frightened that they called out and ran around, not knowing what to do. Some picked up their bows and spears. Others just stood still and looked. Whattlekainum, one of our sub-chiefs, tried to talk to them, but they had strange tongues. The chief of the Sky- people then made signs, and we understood that he was on his way to the sea, but he would come back again.
The next day, the Sky-people came back to Kikait, and they all came ashore. Before they came to us, the water had made some of the good in their canoe wet; so the Sky-Chief had them taken out and spread out to dry. When our young men saw the great treasures, they became excited. There were daggers made of metal, like those of the Songhees. There were ropes there too, not made of cedar bark or skin, and…oh, lots of things we would like to have. Some of the young men watched. In the morning, when the Sky-people made ready to depart, some things were missing. The white Chief became angry. Some of his men searched among his people and found the articles the young men had stolen. They took the things from the young men and kicked them. That was bad. It makes a warrior ashamed. When the visitors left, the young men got ready to follow and kill them that night when they stopped.
When Chief Whattlekainum heard their plan, he said, ‘No, do not try to hurt the Sky-people. There are as many of them as there are stars. If you try to kill them, more will come and they will kill us all. No, you must not do what you plan.’
Some of the old men said the word of Whattlakainum was good. But because the young men who had been kicked looked black, Chief said,’ I know you feel ashamed because you were kicked. I feel sorry for you, so I will remove the shame. I will make you presents.’
And Whattlekainum gave away all his own belongings to the young men to keep them from killing Simon Fraser.”