Kwulasulwut: Stories from the Coast Salish


64 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919441-04-1






Reviewed by Jean Johnston

Jean Johnston was a freelance writer in Mitchell, Ontario.


Author Ellen White dedicates her book to her grandmother, Mary Rice, “who never tired of telling us stories.” Presumably, these Coast Salish stories are some of Mary Rice’s. Ellen White, whose Salish name is Kwulasulwut, meaning “Many Stars,” lives in Nanaimo, B.C., where she teaches native studies and the Coast Salish language.

Author White has translated these five children’s stories with consummate skill, retaining their simplicity, charm, and lyrical quality. The narrative flow is admirable. Although the stories all have a message, the “moral” creeps in unnoticed. The most interesting, probably, is that of “Stolen Sun,” depicting a period, found in all primitive folklore, when the sun disappeared.

Illustrations are by a Nootkan artist, Vincent Smith. They are simple black-and-white line drawings and they complement the text. One story tells of a race of people who have only tiny holes for their mouths and are forced to suck up maggot soup for their only food. Halitun, the Magic Hunter, dopes them with balsam root, cuts open their mouths, then disappears without waiting for them to awake. We can’t help asking, what became of those people? All told, this book is an excellent addition to the children’s library, and a book which the adults will enjoy reading aloud.


White, Ellen, “Kwulasulwut: Stories from the Coast Salish,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,