Kou-Skelowh/We Are the People: A Trilogy of Okanagan Legends


88 pages
ISBN 0-919411-81-5
DDC j398.2'089'979





Illustrations by Barbara Marchand
Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


These Okanagan legends were originally published separately in 1984 with
black-and-white illustrations. Kou-Skelowh, which means “We are the
people,” is meant to convey some sense of the traditional First Nation
values that are incorporated into the actual production of the book. For
example, no author takes credit for the text because these legends
belong to the entire Okanagan nation.

One of the trilogy’s recurring themes is how an individual willingly
sacrifices for the good of many. In “How Food Was Given,” all the
flora and fauna in the world are told by the Great Spirit that a new
creature called People is coming to live in their world. One by one,
each living thing on Earth determines how it will alter its life to help
the new creature survive. In “How Turtle Set the Animals Free,” a
lowly reptile risks its freedom to defeat an evil Eagle who has enslaved
all the other animals on Earth. “How Names Were Given” is the story
of a coyote who tries to beat all the other animals to a great prize but
ends up outsmarting only himself.

Humor, irony, and intriguing details about Okanagan culture permeate
each story. Further humor is supplied by Barbara Marchand’s all-new
comical watercolor illustrations. Highly recommended.


“Kou-Skelowh/We Are the People: A Trilogy of Okanagan Legends,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20590.