Honne, the Spirit of the Chehalis


Honne, the Spirit of the Chehalis

The Indian Interpretation of the Origin of the People and Animals

Narrated by George Sanders
Collected and arranged by Katherine Van Winkle Palmer
Introduction by Jay Miller

242 pages
2 photographs, 18 illustrations, 1 glossary


December 2012


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Honne, the Spirit of the Chehalis embodies a narrative tour de force that interweaves episodes (that stand alone in ordinary tellings) into an integrated series of installments. This collection of Salish stories features the Changer’s efforts to successively transform a proto-being or spirit into the present form of a named species (deer, owl, shark, sea otter, and others). Additional stories describe how the Changer allowed Bear or Ant to apportion day and night; permitted Frog to schedule tides; and taught humans how to cook meat and clams, hunt with a bow, dry berries, cure sickness, settle communities, and prepare for the afterworld.


These tales are told by George Sanders, a master storyteller whose family included chiefs of the Nisqually Indian tribe, which lives south of what is now Tacoma, Washington. As part of the oral tradition, these stories were rarely heard by those outside the area until Katherine Van Winkle Palmer, daughter of the local doctor, collected them for posterity.

Jay Miller introduces this new edition with a close look at the linguistic complexity of the region, which testifies to the rich diversity of the Americas before epidemics and dislocations took their devastating toll. By weaving together these masterful installments, Honne, the Spirit of the Chehalis provides an evocative example of interwoven Salish oral literature at its best.

Author Bio

George Sanders (1880–1959) was a Chehalis (with Nisqually and Cowlitz) Indian who lived as a logger and farmer. Katherine Van Winkle Palmer (1895–1982) was a distinguished geologist and paleontologist who founded the Paleontological Research Institute. Jay Miller is a linguist and anthropologist and is a former associate director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History at the Newberry Library in Chicago. He is the author of several books for adults and children, including Lushootseed Culture and the Shamanic Odyssey (Nebraska, 1999).


"This collection of Chehalis folktales is a welcome addition to the body of material about the Indians of the Northwest which is being gradually accumulated."--Erna Gunther, Washington Historical Quarterly

Table of Contents

[no TOC]

Also of Interest