Sweatpants - The Strong People



As told by Sam Ulmer

One day there was a big gathering at Elwha. They ate salmon, clams, wild berries, and lots of good things from nature.

Then they had a contest to see who was the strongest. They decided to see who could lift a big log to the top of a big house that they were building. All of the other tribes tried to lift the log. Each tribe chose their strongest men. None of them could lift the big log.

It was time for the mighty Klallams. They remembered that logs float in water. So they rolled the big log into the water.

Then their strongest young men walked out into the water until it was up to their shoulders. Then they let the log float onto their shoulders and walked out of the water carrying the log on their shoulders.

When they reached the longhouse, everyone shouted, “šaʔšúm, šaʔšúm, šaʔšúm!” On the third time they all lifted it up to the top. All the other tribes thought that the mighty Klallams must be very strong to put the log up so high, and smart to use the water to first get the log onto their shoulders.

They all shouted, “Nəxʷsƛ̕áy̕əm! Nəxʷsƛ̕áy̕əm!” which means, “Strong People! Strong People!”
That is how our tribe received its name.