Ladybug and the Flood:
A Cowichan Creation Story
Note: phonetic guide to Salish names is included, but regional pronunciation varies widely.
In ancient times, Syalutsa (Sigh.al.you.t.sah), the first man who fell from the sky, had a vision that it would rain for many months. This long period of rain would flood the entire Cowichan Valley. In preparation, Syalutsa spent many months building the largest canoe ever made by a man. Then he spent many months weaving cedar roots into the longest rope that he could create. Once finished, he tied one end of the cedar rope to the great canoe and he tied the other end to a large boulder atop Mount Prevost. You can still see this boulder there today. As his vision told him, it rained for many months. The flood waters rose higher and higher until the waters reached the top of Mount Prevost. The floodwater continued to rise beyond the mountaintop and with it went Syalutsa’s giant canoe. The large boulder along with his cedar rope became an anchor for his canoe. The flood water continued to raise Syalutsa’s canoe until the cedar rope which he tied to his anchoring boulder stretched and became taut. Syalutsa feared that he would soon face death. Just as he was sure that the great canoe would be overcome by the water, the rains suddenly stopped, and the sky turned a familiar golden-blue as the sun began to shine once more. Finally, the floodwater began to recede.
Now, before the great flood, Stutsun (Stut.sun), the younger brother of Syalutsa, was exploring the Cowichan Valley after he fell from the sky. During his exploration, the rains began and he encountered Smuyqwa (Sm.ooy.qu.uh), the ladybug. Little ladybug knew of this great rain which would eventually flood the entire Cowichan Valley. Little ladybug told Stutsun that she could save him and others from the flood by drinking all of the water on the earth. Upon hearing this, Stutsun laughed and wondered aloud how such a small being could drink such a giant body of water. Little ladybug was offended by Stutsun’s mockery of her, and told him not to criticize or make fun of her based on her tiny size. Upon seeing that ladybug was offended by his prejudice of her size, Stutsun remembered that his older brother, Syalutsa, had told him to respect and appreciate nature. So Stutsun listened to Smuyqwa. Little ladybug taught Stutsun a song to sing when the flood came, and promised that upon hearing this song, she would come to his rescue and drink all of the floodwater. So when the floodwaters did take over the Cowichan Valley, Stutsun sang Smuyqua’s song. Little ladybug fulfilled her promise, and drank and drained the floodwaters which took over the Cowichan Valley. After the flood water was gone, the Cowichan Valley looked very different. However, little ladybug had saved the future of the Cowichan people by rescuing Syalutsa and Stutsun from the great flood.