The Legend of the Taproot People – A Play
The Legend of the Taproot People
We are explorers of the woods and waterways that we live and learn in. We are becoming protectors of the watershed that we call home. The Fauntleroy Watershed has become how we learn and understand life and the way it changes. We have studied the way the Watershed works, what it needs to survive and how to help sustain its life force. We have learned from the water, the sky, the animals and the words of Chief Sealth; He said, “My ancestors said to me, the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth. What befalls on earth befalls on all the sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
As members of the community that surrounded our schoolhouse, we began to study the Salish Sea so we would be able to understand our environment. As we began to learn, we spent the autumn season outside in the woods, the trails, the watershed, and the sea. We learned the names of the seaweed, the names and pods of the Orca Whales, the sight and sounds of our native birds, and the mighty struggle the Salmon take on their life long journey.
As we learned about our community and its environment, we read many legends and folktales. Even the great tales of this area did not feel like our own story. We wanted to create a legend in our own time. Legends that will help other people want to help sustain the land, the animals and the future as it is now.
So one day, something terrifying but amazing happened. As we were in the forest listening for the birds in the trees, a storm came out of nowhere. Sounds of booming and crashing echoed through the trees and a giant branch fell from nowhere. We were frightened and didn’t know what was happening to us and thus our legend begins.
The Legend of Fish Playing Drums
(The RIVER SONG)
On a warm the spring a single coho salmon spawned up a creek and found a safe place to ley her eggs in a creek in the Fauntleroy watershed. (A watershed is the place where many streams come together to release into the ocean.) After her eggs were laid in the gravel she sighed her last breath and her sparkling body returned to the earth and her spirit returned to the spirit world.
Her bright red eggs grew up to Alevins. (Alevins eat from a yoke sack that are connected to their body.) Without their mothers guidance the Alevins eventually lost their yoke sack and grew to bright and lively fry. (A fry is when salmon first start foraging for food). The salmon became brave and independent. They slowly traveled downstream towards the estuary. (An estuary is the mouth of the river where fresh water meets salt water.) Only seven of the hundreds of eggs laid made it to the estuary as Smolt. (Smolt is the last stage before becoming mature salmon.) Their special story began where the fresh water of the streams meets the salt water of the Puget Sound.
These 6 salmon swam through the estuary and to a dock where they met two fierce fishers with their lines in the water. All of the salmon successfully escaped the fishing lines except for one. This salmon was caught. The fisher people lifted their catch and gave thanks. This salmon was cooked and fed an entire family.
The remaining 5 salmon entered the big wide Puget Sound where there are vibrant seaweeds and proud cormorants. These 5 salmon soon met a hungry seal. The seal was splashing and jumping around. It chased the salmon and snatched it one. The salmon flipped and wiggled but could not escape the seal’s strong mouth. The seal spun around in circles and then gave thanks. This salmon was valuable nutrients for the seals winter.
The 4 remaining salmon kept swimming, passed freight liners and ferry boats and along the beaches. Appearing out of nowhere, a powerful bald eagle swooped down and caught a salmon with her sharp talons. She flapped her wings and gave thanks. The eagle took the salmon to her nest high up in a tall towering cedar trees and fed her baby eagles.
Only 3 salmon were left, they swam hard and strong searching for safety, food and rest. But this was not the end of their journey.
While swimming they spotted a pod of hungry Orca Whales. The Orcas were swimming fast, breaching out of the water and smashing their large bodies into the waves. (Orcas can swim up to 30 miles per hour.) Just as one Orca snapped its mouth down on one of the salmon, a distant drumming began. Rhythmic and low, the drumming came from far away. It was an ancient song of the salmon’s ancestors and every creature in the Puget Sound knows that it is time for the salmon to return. The Orcas honored this sacred time and let the salmon go.
The Ancestors drummed and guided the fish home. Dark clouds began to form and cover sky. Rain came pouring down, filling creeks. The Drumming became stronger and the salmon swam faster, past the bald eagles, past the seals and along the beaches. The Salmon followed the drumming through the estuary and up the Fauntleroy creek. Battling the current and up the salmon ladder that the humans built. Their ancestors were drummed. The Stellar’s Jays and the squirrels were cheering. The ferns were shaking and the trees were swaying. The Bard Owls were even hollering. Everyone knew that their success was connected to all things in this world. For if new salmon are not born many things in the world change and nature will become unbalanced.
The Drumming was clear and steady. A resounding sound of thunder grew in the sky and suddenly a giant branch fell to the ground and there was silence. All the animals and all plants became still. Only the sound of water dripping off the pine needles could be heard.
The Salmon knew they had returned to where they once were born. Where their sparkling mother had passed away and become a part of the web of life. Then suddenly the rain water and due that laid on each pine needle rose up and came together to form of a giant glistening spirit of a salmon.
The spirit spoke “You have completed your journey. One of you will join us in the spirit world and the other two will continue to live in the natural world, creating salmon for the Human, Seals, the Eagles and the Orcas to thrive on. Because of you the web of life goes on. Thank you.” The chosen salmon and the spirit came together and transformed into water, dissolving into the ground. The two remaining salmon found a safe place to lay their eggs in the gravel and continued their noble journey. And the story continues just as all things in this world do.
Chief Seattle speech: Ella, Hannah, Cam and Hazel
The River Song.
Writing Team: Ella, Cam, Hannah, Hazel, Lucas, Jasper, Royal and Coho
Costume Team: Lily, Asilee, Caiden, Raigan, Adrian, Liviya, Jaxon
Chief Seattle Speech: Hazel, Hannah, Ella and Cam
Mommy Salmon: Asilee
Salmon: Lucas, Ella, Cam, Royal, Raigan, Liviya
Fisher People: Hazel, Jaxon
Orcas: Coho, Caiden, Adrian
Spirit Salmon: Jasper
Narrators: Jaala and Michelle