Skookum stories are found among the Natives of the Pacific Northwest. The legends existed prior to a single name for the creature. They differed in their details both regionally and between families in the same community. Similar stories of Skookums are found on every continent except Antarctica. An Ecologist argues that most cultures have human-like giants in their folk history: “We have this need for some larger-than-life creature.”
My family had no shortage of Skookum stories growing up. My Grandmother, Shirley Amos, would often tell this story as my neck hairs stood on end, hanging on to her every word.
As a youngster, I would roam through the woods near my home, with my bow draped across my shoulders, my ears perked and my nose to the path, on edge, looking for Skookum. My Uncle, Gary Amos, had a similar but different story he would tell of the Skookums and the call it would make… once again, my neck hairs would stand on end as I hung on to every word.
This need for some ‘larger-than-life creature’ has always fascinated me. I grew up a jehovah’s witness and was fed the ideology and imagery of a ‘larger-than-life’ God from the time of birth. A god of fire and brimstone, but it all seemed so mythical and scary to me. Something that kept me in line because of fear. I would hear these stories of Skookums (ironically told by strict jehovah witnesses), and for some reason, that felt more like God to me. It was a tug a war of spiritual information when I was a child. My Grandmother would tell these Ghost stories and Stories of the Land, but in the same breath, tell us that they were wrong and did not have jehovah’s guidance. This always confused me. How could we have forsaken this land and it’s rituals for some imported mono-theistic ideology, yet I felt a guilt for thinking such thoughts. Then something happened to me on May 18th, 1980 that would change my life forever.
Loowit, May 18th 1980
I was six years old and bewildered by what I saw and felt that day. I could hear so clearly the call of my Ancestors and the Call of the Land. This was God, this was the true power of God. On this day, I became an Animist. But what was I to do with this new and powerful Spiritual knowledge. Where was the Ceremony? I spent the next 20 years frantically searching for my ‘Ceremony’ in every portal that would open. I became the Volcano, I became the calm and I became my own Skookum. I had to listen for the Ceremony, I had to learn to accept that the Ceremony was right underneath my feet and I had to learn to accept the Skookum inside of me.
These stories I would hear growing up, seem at times, like a code. A code for living that would end up having profound teachings to me. I had to stop and listen long enough to hear what my Ancestors were telling me. I had to stop and listen to what the winds were telling me. I found God here.
All My Relations.